Practice makes perfect for Air Station Kodiak rescue crews

A U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew lowers a line to the deck of NOAA Ship Rainier during a joint agency training mission near Kodiak Island, Alaska, July 11, 2014. The training was conducted to familiarize the crew of NOAA Ship Rainier with basket and rescue swimmer hoists and provided the Jayhawk crew a different training platform. Photo courtesy of NOAA.

A U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew lowers a line to the deck of NOAA Ship Rainier during a joint agency training mission near Kodiak Island, Alaska, July 11, 2014. The training was conducted to familiarize the crew of NOAA Ship Rainier with basket and rescue swimmer hoists and provided the Jayhawk crew a different training platform. Photo courtesy of NOAA.

The Coast Guard’s motto Semper Paratus means “always ready” and to be always ready, means to be proficient in craft, leadership and initiative. Members of Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak pride themselves on maintaining their proficiency in all aspects of their jobs. They do this by scheduling routine training and taking advantage of training opportunities with the Coast Guard’s federal, state, local and tribal partners in Alaska.

Recently, Air Station Kodiak MH-60 Jayhawk and MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crews practiced hoisting a rescue swimmer and basket on and off the deck of the NOAA Ship Rainier.

“This training provided some much needed diversity in our hoisting operations,” said Coast Guard Lt. Jimmy Burruss, a Dolphin helicopter pilot at Air Station Kodiak. “It helped us strengthen our interagency relationship with NOAA and introduced helicopter operations to the crew of the Rainier.”

NOAA Lt. Russell Quintero, operations officer aboard Rainier, explained that for many of the crew aboard Rainier, this was the first opportunity to experience a hoisting evolution from a helicopter.

“The hoisting training was particularly well received because not only was it fun, exciting and impressive to witness, but everyone here knows that it is extremely important to our safety,” added Quintero. “If someone gets seriously hurt, there’s a good chance we will be relying on the support of pilots like those we trained with or helicopter crews from nearby Coast Guard cutters to come to our aid.”

A U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak rescue swimmer gives a brief to the crew of NOAA Ship Rainier during a training evolution near Kodiak, Island, July 11, 2014. The rescue swimmer gave instructions to the crew of Rainier on conducting emergency hoists while underway. Photo courtesy of NOAA.

A U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak rescue swimmer gives a brief to the crew of NOAA Ship Rainier during a training evolution near Kodiak, Island, July 11, 2014. The rescue swimmer gave instructions to the crew of Rainier on conducting emergency hoists while underway. Photo courtesy of NOAA.

Burruss believes the interagency training was beneficial and expressed interest in conducting similar training in the future.

“I have no doubt we will pursue any training opportunities with NOAA vessels in the future,” said Burrus. “Having our pilots and flight mechanics train in a controlled, safe environment with the disciplined, well-trained crew of the NOAA Ship Rainier is invaluable.”

For several of the pilots and flight mechanics aboard the helicopters, this was a rare opportunity for them to hoist to the bow of a large vessel which is something the crews might do in adverse weather or during nighttime conditions.

“It was impossible not to be impressed,” said Quintero. “It is clear that anyone in distress within range of Air Station Kodiak or nearby cutters is in good hands.”

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