Night-time rescue in Arctic waters

The US Coastguard have put out the following press release, with video link at the bottom:


U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Devin L. Townsend, of Belleville, Mich., was awarded the Admiral Chester R. Bender Award for Heroism on May 2, 2008, for his participation in the rescue of four fishermen on Feb. 9, 2007.

Stationed in Kodiak, Alaska, Townsend was a key part of the HH-65 Dolphin crew that responded to the call from fishing vessel Illusion off Unalaska Island, Alaska at 1:00 a.m.

Despite a low cloud ceiling, near zero illumination, and winds up to 35 knots, the helicopter crew was able to navigate to the scene of the distressed vessel.

Despite surpassing weight limitations on the HH-65 Dolphin’s engines, the crew managed to retrieve all four fishermen from the arctic waters, and navigate safely back to Dutch Harbor where an ambulance was waiting to treat the survivors.

The entire mission was flown at the performance limits of the crew and helicopter without the assistance of a cover aircraft.

The aviators demonstrated selflessness during the rescue as they forfeited their own survival suits to protect the exposed mariners, risked damage to their aircraft by pushing the limits of the helicopter’s engines.

Townsend expertly maneuvered the helicopter while his crew rescued the distressed fishermen.

His expert control of the aircraft ensured the underpowered HH-65 Dolphin engines were not overstressed as the gross weight exceeded the prescribed hoisting limits by more than 400 pounds.

Townsend graduated from Belleville High School in 1992, and Eastern Michigan University with a BS Computer Aided Design in 1996.

His parents, Alan J. Townsend and Mary C. Pincek, reside in Mich.

The Admiral Chester R. Bender Award, named after the fourteenth Commandant of the Coast Guard, recognizes Coast Guard members for heroic efforts.

Video of the 2007 Coast Guard Foundation Admiral Chester R. Bender Award for Heroism is available here.