Coast Guard Medevacs Stricken Captain to St. Thomas

The captain of th container ship M/V/ Maersk Batam was medevaced to St. Thomas Monday. (Photo by Gerold Taube, Marinetraffic.com, supplied by U.S. Coast Guard)
The captain of the container ship M/V Maersk Batam was medically evacuated to St. Thomas Monday. (Photo by Gerold Taube, Marinetraffic.com, supplied by U.S. Coast Guard)

The captain of the 734-foot container ship M/V Maersk Batam was medically evacuated about 100 nautical miles from his ship south of Puerto Rico to St. Thomas Monday night after suffering a life-threatening stroke, the U.S. Coast Guard reported.

The captain of the M/V Maersk Batam, 57, is a citizen of the United Kingdom, who experienced life-threatening symptoms of a possible stroke during the ship’s transit from Santa Marta, Colombia to their next scheduled port call in Southampton, England. The victim’s name was not released by the Coast Guard.

According to the report, watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector San Juan received the medevac request at 9:55 a.m. Monday from the M/V Maersk Batam, as the ship was transiting 175 nautical miles southwest of Mona Island, Puerto Rico. The Coast Guard launched a MH-65D helicopter crew from Air Station Borinquen to conduct the medevac and diverted the Coast Guard Cutter Thetis to shorten the distance with the M/V Maersk Batam and serve as an emergency platform for the rescue helicopter if required. Watchstanders coordinated with Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Virgin Islands authorities throughout the medevac. They also inquired and received from the M/V Maersk Batam that the patient’s condition was unrelated and that he was not experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.

Once on scene, the helicopter deployed the aircraft rescue swimmer to M/V Maersk Batam to assess the patient’s condition. The aircrew used a rescue litter to hoist the ship’s captain aboard the aircraft. Following the hoist, the patient was transported the Cyril E. King Airport on St. Thomas, where he was received by awaiting emergency medical services personnel and taken to Schneider Regional Medical Center.

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U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Thetis was on hand to lend assistance. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)
U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Thetis was on hand to lend assistance. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

“Last night I was really proud of our service, there were multiple units thinking creatively, willing to go the extra mile to get a fellow mariner to the appropriate medical care,” said Lt. Cmdr. Charles Whitesel, Air Station Borinquen MH-65 Dolphin aircraft commander for the medevac. “The crew was amazing, each member performed exceptionally well during a challenging case, traversing over 200 miles, through scattered rain showers with virtually no illumination to safely deliver the person to the nearest available hospital.”

Thetis is a Coast Guard Atlantic Area 270-foot medium endurance cutter homeported in Key West, Florida.

“We commend the Government of the U.S. Virgin Islands for their swift response in coming to the aide of this mariner and providing the higher level of care he required,” said Capt. Eric P. King, Sector San Juan commander. “The tireless and selfless efforts of our Coast guardsmen every day, as in cases like this, speak volumes to our service’s motto of Semper Paratus. They proudly stand the watch in support our nation and the maritime community to facilitate safe maritime commerce during these difficult times.”

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