MH-60S Knighthawk First At-Sea Rescue
An MH-60S from HC-6 conducting flight deck landing qualifications on USS Winston Churchill (DDG-81) completed first hoist rescue at sea after attending a distress call for a fishing boat
Sikorsky, October 02, 2002 - STRATFORD, Connecticut By Linda Pinto - The newest Sikorsky helicopter type for the U.S. Navy succeeded in its first hoist rescue at sea last week, according to officials at the Stratford-based manufacturer.
The captain of a 35-foot Bertram sport fishing boat was hoisted aboard a MH-60S Knighthawk helicopter after the destroyers USS Winston Churchill and USS Cole intercepted his mayday call that his boat was taking on water and suffering intermittent power losses off North Carolina, Sikorsky spokesman William Tuttle said Tuesday.
The Churchill was conducting flight deck landing qualifications with a MH-60S helicopter from the Norfolk-based Helicopter Support Squadron Six (HC-6) Sept. 24 at 6:50 p.m., when the distress call came in from the vessel Reeleaser.
The Cole was only 18 miles from Reeleaser's reported position. It began a dash at 30 knots toward the boat's reported position, while Churchill dispatched the MH-60S.
The helicopter, piloted by Lt. Cmdr. Barbara Gordon and Lt. Dave Adams, was vectored to the Reeleaser's location by the Cole and arrived at the sinking vessel at about 7:20 p.m.
The Reeleaser's captain, identified as Richard Bartlette, 36, of Yorktown, Va., abandoned his vessel and was picked up by a rescue swimmer from Gordon's aircraft. Bartlette could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
Bartlette was hoisted aboard and flown to the Churchill, where he was reported in good condition. He was able to contact his family from the ship to let them know he was safe, Sikorsky officials said.
Since 2000, Sikorsky produced about two dozen Knighthawks, Tuttle said. The craft is a derivative of the Sikorsky workhorse, the Black Hawk and the Seahawk, which also is used by the Navy.
The Knighthawks' main mission is logistic, Tuttle said, "Transferring material and people from ship to ship."
However, he added, it was just a matter of time before the company knew the craft would be called in for a rescue.
The MH-60S is currently flying in three operational squadrons, HC-5 in Guam, HC-3 in San Diego, Calif., and HC-6 in Norfolk, Va. HC-5 aircraft have flown search-and-rescue missions in recent months.
Bartlette, the first MH-60S Knighthawk hoist rescue, was flown ashore the following day, a footnote to helicopter search- and-rescue history, Tuttle said.