When a 35-foot boat ran aground Friday in shallow waters on the northern side of Niihau and its operators placed a distress call, they probably weren't expecting a 1,092-foot aircraft carrier to come to the rescue.
The USS Carl Vinson was operating 7 miles from the vessel as part of Rim of the Pacific exercises when bridge watch-standers heard the call and the big ship offered assistance, the Navy said.
Two MH-60 Sea Hawk helicopters assigned to the "Black Knights" of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 4 airlifted the five mariners at about 8:30 a.m. The helicopters transported four people to a Coast Guard facility on Kauai, while a fifth person was flown to a medical facility for evaluation, the Navy said.
"We were ready," Capt. Matt Paradise, commanding officer of the Carl Vinson, said in a news release. "When nearby mariners needed assistance, we stepped up immediately and helped. That is what we are trained to and I'm proud of our team."
The Carl Vinson has more than 5,000 crew members and 70 aircraft.
A Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew and a 45-foot response boat deployed to assess the scene. The stranded vessel was partly submerged with no debris or fuel spill visible at the time, the Coast Guard said.
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