PACIFIC OCEAN (Aug. 8, 2014) -
The dock landing ship USS Comstock (LSD 45) provided rescue assistance to six National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration researchers at Laysan Island, Aug. 8, ahead of the expected arrival of Hurricane Iselle.
The researchers were studying Millerbirds and Monk Seals on the remote island in the Pacific, some 900 miles Northwest of the Hawaiian Islands.
Two rigid hull inflatable boats (RHIBs) were dispatched to the island from Comstock to evacuate the researchers. The coordinated efforts took approximately two hours, with all personnel returning safely to Comstock.
"All departments on the ship are involved when you steam 300 nautical miles at nearly best speed to deploy two RHIBs,” said Cmdr. Scott Tasin, commanding officer of USS Comstock. “The team had to navigate around exposed reefs to reach the island. This was a total team effort, I am very proud of my crew today."
Once aboard the ship, the researchers were treated to showers and warm meals before being transported to nearby Midway Island, equipped with an airstrip where they can take shelter or perform another evacuation if needed.
"I am sad we had to leave the island early, but I am happy the Navy had ships nearby to help us when we needed it," said Genni Brookshire, a Monk Seal researcher for NOAA.
The mission was a combined effort between the three ships in the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and the embarked 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), where the ARG diverted nearly 300 miles from its course to reach the researchers.
"This is why people join the Navy," said Lt. Chris Gutierrez, Comstock’s lead boat officer for the rescue. "We are a global force for good, and that means helping people that are in need. I find it fulfilling and rewarding."
The Makin Island ARG is comprised of the flagship amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8), USS Comstock and amphibious transport dock ship USS San Diego (LPD 22).
The ARG is currently on a deployment with the 11th MEU to promote peace and freedom of the seas by providing deterrence, humanitarian aid and disaster response while supporting the Navy's Maritime Strategy in the U.S. 7th and 5th Fleet areas of responsibility.