Navy Gives Endangered Species a Lift


SAN DIEGO  -- Navy Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) 30, teamed up with SeaWorld to move an injured eastern Pacific green sea turtle from Oregon to San Diego for medical treatment and long-term rehabilitation, Aug. 21.

An aircrew from the squadron, also known as the "Providers," carried a SeaWorld rescue team 780 miles north to Eugene, Ore., where they met Oregon Coast Aquarium veterinarians and carefully loaded the 160-pound turtle and it's 123-pound wooden crate shelter, onto a C-2 Greyhound.

After a 3-hour journey, the turtle that was found comatose on the shore of Oregon in June, was successfully delivered to Naval Air Station North Island and then transferred to SeaWorld, where he will undergo life sustaining procedures.

The mission, to safely shuttle the injured sea creature, was conducted during one of the squadron's routine trainings.

Cmdr. Joel Becker, commanding officer of VRC-30, piloted the lift and said it was a "win-win" mission."It's the type of training needed to get the crew ready to perform well under difficult conditions, and at the same time we are able to help SeaWorld," said Becker.

During the transport, the C2 had to fly low to keep a cool temperature to accommodate the sick turtle. Becker compared the mission to carrying a dive accident victim who has to be flown at low altitudes for similar reasons.

"We have to consider altitude, cabin pressure, weather, topography and safety all the time-especially in critical situations where we have to get someone from a ship," he said.

The same skills used to transport critically injured patients and essential parts around the fleet, helped to preserve the life of the mature male turtle called Koa, which means brave, bold and fearless.

"Without the Navy coming to help, there would have been no other way to get Koa to San Diego for continuing care. Now, he has a really good chance to improve, live a long life and have many children down the line," said Laura Todd, Supervisor of Fish and Wildlife Services.

Navy C-2 Greyhounds, which were first flown in 1964, are generally used to transport people and equipment from shore bases to aircraft carriers. Commonly referred to as Carrier Onboard Delivery (COD) aircraft, they are able to ferry up to 10,000 pounds of cargo and passengers.

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