USS Vandegrift Returns to San Diego Following Rescue at Sea
SAN DIEGO - The Oliver Hazard Perry-class guided missile frigate USS Vandegrift (FFG 48) arrived at Naval Base San Diego April 9 following the rescue of a family with a sick infant on a disabled sailboat approximately 1,300 miles south of San Diego.
The rescue at sea was a joint-interagency rescue effort involving Navy, Coast Guard and California Air National Guard personnel that started April 3 after the Coast Guard received a distress call from the sailing vessel, Rebel Heart, requesting assistance for a sick one-year old child.
"As a Navy warship we prepare for all types of contingencies and several different missions. I will say that my crew was able to turn on a dime to complete the exercise that we were doing and then get ready for a real life rescue mission," said Lt. Cmdr. Daryl Robbin, executive officer of Vandegrift.
Following the distress call, the U.S. Coast Guard requested assistance from the California Air National Guard's 129th Rescue Wing, stationed at Moffet Field, Calif. and the Navy. The 129th Rescue Wing launched an Air Force MC-130P Combat Shadow aircraft and four pararescuemen who arrived on scene and rendered medical assistance. U.S. 3rd Fleet directed Vandegrift, which was conducting routine operations off the coast off San Diego, to render assistance to the distressed vessel.
"It was a little bit tough since we are rolling into a deployment soon, everyone knew it was a real situation and we came together for that," said Lt.j.g Chris Cheezem, boat officer during the rescue. "It was great job satisfaction to have been put through drills inspections and then to be able to use it in a real world rescue mission."
Vandegrift arrived on scene April 6 and brought the family and four pararescuemen aboard using the ship's 7-meter rigid hull inflatable boat (RHIB).
"We would like to express how grateful we are to the men and women of the Coast Guard, California Air National Guard and Navy who rescued our family, especially the pararescuemen and crew of USS Vandegrift," said Eric and Charlotte Kaufman, family rescued from sailing vessel Rebel Heart.
Prior to mooring at Naval Base San Diego, the ship made a previously scheduled stop at Naval Air Station North Island to load ordnance. The family disembarked at that time to proceed to their family physician.
"The Vandegrift was in the right place at the right time and we were happy to help," said Cmdr. Luis Alva, commanding officer of Vandegrift.
Joint, interagency and international relationships strengthen 3rd Fleet's ability to respond to crises and protect the collective maritime interest of the U.S. and its allies and partners.