A US Coast Guard rescue helicopter attempting to perform a medical evacuation from a cruise ship on Saturday, April 29th, nearly crashed into the ocean when weather conditions worsened. Happily, it was saved due to "superb piloting," the USCG said.
The USCG received a call Saturday morning for a medevac from a Carnival Cruise Line ship located ~300 mi (~480 km) off Fort Morgan (Alabama USA).
A 76-year-old passenger aboard the CCL's Carnival Dream ship was experiencing heart attack-like symptoms.
A pair of aircraft were launched to respond to the call, including a patrol aircraft, an HC-144 Ocean Sentry, and a recovery helicopter, an MH-60 Jayhawk.
In a statement, the Coast Guard said that a "severe squall," a sudden and violent gust of wind, had caused the Jayhawk crew to move away from the vessel, adding:
"The helicopter then encountered a severe downwind, prompting the aircrew to recover the aircraft close to the water's surface."
The Ocean Sentry and the Jayhawk helicopter were able to return safely to the base.
Later, another Jayhawk helicopter crew returned and was able to complete the evacuation, transferring the cruise passenger to the hospital in stable condition.
In a statement, Blair said that during the rescue, the aircrew had experienced severe and rapidly deteriorating weather that had forced them to abort the mission.
"Through exceptional real-time risk management, crew resource management, and superb piloting, the aircrew was able to safely recover the aircraft and land at the air station without further incident."
For more Carnival Dream incidents and accidents see the ship's CruiseMinus page.