Forward-Deployed Kodiak USCG Dolphin Crew Conducts Three Bering Sea Hoists this Week


As the week nears its end, the United States Coast Guard reports that the forward-deployed MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Air Station Kodiak carried out three hoists this week in the Bering Sea near Cold Bay.

On Monday evening, Watchstanders in Juneau received notification from Alaska Maritime Physicians that they were relaying communications from the F/V Vaerdal who reported that they had a crewmember suffering chest pains. 

After being briefed, the USCG duty flight surgeon recommended the launch of a helicopter crew. In response, a MH-65 Dolphin forward deployed from Kodiak to the Cutter Midgett launched and flew to the location of the Vaerdal 70 miles north of Cold Bay.

Once hoisted, the stricken crewmember was taken to Cold Bay where the chopper was met by local emergency medical services.

“This case demonstrates the importance of having helicopters deployed onboard cutters patrolling Alaskan waters,” said Chief Warrant Officer Joseph Ayd, command duty officer for the case. “Affecting timely response to medevacs and search and rescue is why we deploy a major cutter to the Bering Sea.”

The chopper remained on the tarmac overnight after turning the subject over. 

On Tuesday morning, Juneau Watchstanders received another notification, this one from Discovery Health Force Partners, reporting that a 24-year-old crewmember aboard the Ocean Peace was exhibiting acute signs of appendicitis.

The Ocean Peace was directed to make way towards Cold Bay from its position 115 miles to the north in order to close distance. The MH-65 Dolphin launched from Cold Bay and rendezvoused with the Cutter Midgett for refueling before departing to the Ocean Peace

Once there, the patient was hoisted aboard and flown to the Cutter Midgett where the chopper refueled once again before departing to Cold Bay where the patient was taken by an aircrew contracted by Discovery health to Anchorage.

“This is the second case in two days that the crew aboard Cutter John Midgett and the helicopter crew with them responded in the Bering Sea,” said Lt. Cmdr. Orion Bloom, command center chief for Tuesday’s medevac. “Cutters with helicopters in the Bering Sea are essential due to the vast distances they travel to complete a mission.”

The following night, Juneau Watchstanders again received a call from Health Force Partners notifying the Coast Guard that a 28-year-old woman aboard the F/V Golden Alaska was suffering symptoms of respiratory infection 36 miles north of Cold Bay.

The duty flight surgeon recommended a medevac and the Air Station Kodiak MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew launched from Dutch Harbor and flew to Cold Bay for refueling there before flying to the vessel. The woman was hoisted and flown to Cold Bay during the early morning hours of Thursday where she was transferred to a contracted aircrew that flew her to Anchorage for higher level care.

“Forward-deployed helicopter crews like this crew deployed with Cutter John Midgett, provide invaluable service to the fishing fleet in the Bering Sea,” said Chief Warrant Officer Joseph Ayd, search and rescue mission coordinator for the case. “This same helicopter crew has conducted three medevacs since Monday. During this case they administered needed oxygen to this woman during transport.”