Three new multi-role helicopters NH NATO Helicopter-90 NTH Naval Transport Helicopter helped with a large sea rescue in the North Sea for the first time on 24 October, together with their predecessor model Sea King Mk41. In addition, naval aviators have been equipped with a reconnaissance aircraft DO 228LM searched the sea space for missing persons.
At about five o’clock in the morning on Tuesday, the freighters “Polesie” and “Verity” collided southwest of the island of Heligoland in darkness and heavy weather with waves of up to three meters. The smaller, British-flagged “Verity” sank in the process.
First on site involved in the collision were a sea rescue cruiser of the German Society for the Rescue of Shipwrecked Persons (DGzRS German Society for the Rescue of Shipwrecked Persons) from Heligoland and a helicopter of the type NH NATO Helicopter-90 NTH Naval Transport Helicopter Sea Lion of the Navy. At half past Alarmed at six o’clock in the morning, the helicopter had taken off from the naval air base in Nordholz.
Soon more came Sea Lion and Sea King in addition. In the course of the day, a total of three NHNATO Helicopter-90 NTH Naval Transport Helicopter and two Sea King Mk41 in use in an alternating process; At times, three naval helicopters flew simultaneously over the accident site or the search area. The two types of multi-purpose helicopters have been in parallel operation for the rescue service since July of this year SAR (Search and Rescue) across the Baltic and North Seas.
“We were there at a quarter past six,” reports NHNATO Helicopter-90 pilot frigate captain Jan H. “With the help of our night vision goggles, we quickly found one of the castaways and wrestled him on board with the net. He was really lucky.” The marine helicopter then immediately brought the hypothermic sailor ashore for medical care.
The three NHNATO helicopter-90 were in use for around 18 hours of flight time. This is its first major rescue mission since the helicopter type entered service with the Navy. The two Sea Kings were also in the air for almost 10 hours. Meanwhile, the helicopters also refueled at the standby station in Heligoland.
“The Navy keeps at least one helicopter on alert on the North and Baltic Seas for emergency sea operations twenty- four- seven to provide support in the event of a sea rescue,” explains the commander of the Naval Aviation Command, Captain Broder Nielsen. The SAR from Naval Aviation Squadron 5 constantly practiced the search and rescue of shipwrecked people at sea, always together with civilian sea rescue organizations.
The accident command in Cuxhaven was in overall charge of the operation, while the DGzRS German Society for the Rescue of Shipwrecked People. The See rescue control center in Bremen coordinated the measures of all those involved. On October 24th, this included several ships from the DGzRS in addition to the naval aviation German Society for the Rescue of Shipwrecked People themselves and from authorities as well as a federal police helicopter. There was also a cruise ship that was traveling near the site of the collision.