Personnel from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base helped save two seriously injured Mexican fishermen on a boat 1,300 miles out to sea from San Diego, the base said Tuesday.
The operation included Air Force pararescuers parachuting into the ocean to reach the boat carrying the two fishermen.
Personnel from the base’s 563rd Rescue Group flew July 10 to assist the fishermen from the Mazatun fishing vessel who were injured when the boat’s crane collapsed while the ship was in international waters southwest of San Diego.
Fishing nets obstructed the Mazatun’s propellers during the incident, making it impossible for the boat to return with the two men.
The two injured crew members were transferred to the Mazatun’s sister ship, the Tamara, which began making the three-day trip to a Mexican naval outpost on Socorro Island, about 840 miles away.
Due to the severity of the injuries and the ship’s isolated location, an emergency request was made for the U.S. Air Force rescue teams, the base said in a news release.
The 563d Rescue Group used several HC-130J Combat King II aircraft from the 79th Rescue Squadron to reach the Tamara as it sailed to Socorro Island, July 10.
Pararescuemen, also known as PJs, from the 48th Rescue Squadron parachuted from the HC-130J into the ocean, where they were able to board the Tamara and begin providing trauma care to the injured fishermen. They stabilized the patients and offered care for the rest of the voyage to Socorro Island.
The vessel reached Socorro harbor Friday evening, July 12. The PJs transferred the fishermen to the Mexican naval medical clinic on the island where they stayed overnight. The next day an air ambulance took them to Mazatlan, Mexico, for further treatment.
“This mission highlights rescue professionals’ ability to network within the 563d RQG, 355th Wing and a greater Tucson medical community to solve an incredibly difficult problem, and continue solving problems throughout the mission’s execution,” said Capt. Michael Erickson, 48th Rescue Squadron director of operations. “Air Force Rescue’s successful execution of the mission demonstrates one of the ways Davis-Monthan’s culture of readiness and problem solving skills can support the greater joint force and our mission partners.”