US Coast Guard crews honored by her Majesty’ services after saving Sean Seamour II crew

August 9, 2007 in L'histoire de Sean Seamour II, Sean Seamour II log of events

HER MAJESTY’S SERVICE HONORS AMERICA’S HEROS

By KRISTI LANGENBACHER  Correspondent
Sunday, August 05, 2007

A Coast Guard rescue three months ago led to an opportunity to promote international relations this week. Members from Air Station Elizabeth City were invited to tour two Royal Navy ships visiting Norfolk, Va. on Tuesday. The invitation was the result of a rescue which involved a British citizen three months ago.

An HH-60 helicopter and a C-130 airplane responded to a distress call from a sailboat 200 nautical miles off the coast of North Carolina on May 7. The crews rescued three men from the stormy waters that day. Members of both aircrews traveled to Norfolk on Tuesday.

The HH-60 helicopter crew of Petty Officer Drew Dazzo, Petty Officer Scott Higgins, Lt. j.g. Aaron Nelson and Lt. Cmdr. Nevada Smith attended the event. Lt.  Paul Beavis and Petty Officer Marcus Jones, members of the C-130 airplane crew, attended as well.

They traveled to Naval Station Norfolk to tour two ships from Her Majesty’s Service, or HMS. The aircrew members met the crews and toured the HMS Illustrious and the HMS Manchester. The tour was arranged after a survivor who was rescued by the Air Station Elizabeth City crews wrote a letter recognizing the crews for their rescue on May 7.

The crews rescued Canadian citizen Rudy Snel, American citizen Jean Pierre de Lutz, and Ben Tye, a British citizen. Snel’s son wrote a letter to Capt. Mike Andres, commanding officer of Air Station Elizabeth City, encouraging formal recognition of the rescue crews. He also sent copies of the letter to several government officials, including President George Bush, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and the British Consulate General’s office in Atlanta. The British Consulate then contacted the air crews.

“Because of the survivors, the British Consulate in Atlanta arranged a tour to thank us for what we did for the British National,” said Smith, aircraft commander of the HH-60 helicopter involved in the rescue. Smith said the tour was also an opportunity to raise public awareness about the Coast Guard, and to promote international relations. He described the British sailors as sociable, friendly and interesting. The aircrews handed out Coast Guard coins and books to the British sailors, and received DVDs about the Royal Navy.

“For us, we got to show the British sailors some Coast Guard people and let them know what we do,” Smith said. “And in return, we learned about the Royal Navy and met some really great people.”

The men toured the ships, including the search and rescue helicopter, command centers, avionics repair shop and bridge.

Dazzo,the rescue swimmer who pulled the men from the water on May 7, said the experience was an opportunity to see how another country’s military operates. “It was a learning experience because their operations are similar to our Navy, but how they go about doing them is a little bit different,” Dazzo said.

He called the rescue the most challenging rescue of his 10 years in the Coast Guard. “It’s probably the rescue I’ve prepared for my entire career,” Dazzo said. “With high winds, rough seas and very low visibility – it’s what you train for.”  The crews rescued the three men from their partially-inflated life raft after their sailboat capsized twice during Subtropical Storm Andrea.

Dazzo said writing a letter of recognition is one of the many things the survivors have done since the rescue. “The guys we rescued really want to see us in the limelight,” he said. “The exposure they’ve given us is really amazing.” One of the survivors also wrote a letter to Dazzo’s 13-year-old daughter letting her know how fragile life is and how much he appreciated Dazzo’s efforts. The same man also sent a balloon bouquet to Dazzo’s son on his second birthday.

“This guy has gone above and beyond,” Dazzo said. “We didn’t expect any of  this. Just a thank you when we dropped him off out of the helicopter was enough.”

Another highlight of the group’s tour of the Royal Navy ships was meeting up with members of the U.S. Marine Corps. The British ships were conducting joint training exercises with the U.S. Marines using the curved ramp on the Illustrious for launching Harrier Jump Jets. The jets use thrust-vectoring for vertical/short takeoff and landing from the curved ramp on the deck of the ship. “They told me they conducted 150 landings and take-offs in a 14-hour period,” Smith said. “That’s pretty amazing.” Dazzo called the flight operations that day impressive, and said the design of the ship was interesting as well.

“The bridge and the air operations were open, and together,” he said. “That way the ship crew and the aircrews can communicate more effectively.”

The HMS Illustrious is an Invincible-class light aircraft carrier home-ported in Portsmouth Harbour in England. The HMS Manchester is a Type 42 guided missile destroyer with a medium-range missile system.

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