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Sri Lanka Navy assists USS Hopper with MEDEVAC

03 October 2016

From Task Force 70 Public Affairs

The guided-missile destroyer was assisted by the Sri Lanka Navy in an emergency medical evacuation Sept. 30 to help a Sailor in need of medical attention.

PHILIPPINE SEA - The guided-missile destroyer USS Hopper (DDG 70) was assisted by the Sri Lanka Navy in an emergency medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) Sept. 30 to help a Sailor in need of medical attention.

At approximately 9 p.m., Sept. 29, Hopper notified Commander, Destroyer Squadron (CDS) 15 that a Sailor on board required MEDEVAC.

Hopper, over 165 miles from shore, didn’t have an embarked helicopter aboard nor were they in close range to available U.S. air assets. Officials then called the Sri Lankan Navy to assist.

Within hours of the initial report, Sri Lankan Defense Secretary Karunasena Hettiarachchi approved Hopper to enter Sri Lankan territorial waters to conduct the medical evacuation via small boat. The medical team provided continuous care for the patient while Hopper made the best speed to get closer to Sri Lanka.

At approximately 7:30 a.m., two Sri Lankan Navy Dvoras, fast patrol boats, met Hopper three miles off the Sri Lankan coast to receive the patient in need of assistance. The Sailor was transferred to the dvoras and taken to the mainland where the patient is currently being treated by medical personnel at Asiri Central Hospital in Colombo.

"A heroic effort occurred across many commands and governments, and it happened within 10 hours to save a Sailor’s life," said Cmdr. J.D. Gainey, commanding officer of Hopper. "This controlled urgency with precise execution was possible based on trust and interoperability which has been established through previous exercises and exchanges with our partner. My thoughts and prayers are with our Sailor, and I want to extend a sincere thank you to the Sri Lankans for the quick and professional response to aide a fellow mariner upon the seas."

Hopper is a multi-mission ship with anti-air warfare, anti-submarine warfare and anti-surface warfare surface combatants capabilities; designed to operate independently or with a surface action group or strike group. Homeported in Pearl Harbor, Hopper is currently underway in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region on an independent deployment, headed toward the 5th Fleet area of responsibility (AOR).

The U.S. Navy maintains a presence in the 7th and 5th Fleet AORs to help preserve peace and security and to further their partnerships with friends and allies. This forward presence contributes to freedom of navigation and lawful use of the sea, as well as furthers operational training and enables an exchange of culture, skills, and tactical knowledge.

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