NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (NNS) -- The efforts of several USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) (Ike) Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat (RHIB) crewmen saved the lives of 11 people who were caught in rough weather in four different private boats on the James River July 7.
Ike's RHIB regularly conducts security patrols on the James River near Northrop Grumman Newport News shipyard, where Ike is being overhauled, guarding the ship against civilian boat traffic. During the storm, the RHIB had been called pierside due to the rough weather but was called back out when two small craft entered the ship's exclusion zone.
"When we heard that the RHIB was being called in because of the weather, ET1 [Electronics Technician 1st Class] Darringer and I rushed down to the pier to assist with the mooring," said Boatswain's Mate Seaman Alex Menashe of Deck Department, one of the lead rescuers. "Then we heard that two unidentified boats had entered our exclusion zone, so we got permission from the FPAO [force protection action officer] to take the largest RHIB we have out to intercept. It turns out that they were civilian boats that were dead in the water and had drifted towards the ship."
Menashe, Darringer and the rest of the RHIB crew then provided assistance to the two boats, which were carrying three people on one boat and two people on another.
"We threw lines toward the boats and towed them back to the caisson that separates the dry dock from the river," said Menashe. "We then evacuated the crew and called the shipyard medical people to provide medical attention."
The RHIB went pierside again, only to be called back out to assist two other boats that were in distress.
"There were two other boats, with four people in one and two people in another, so we went back out to help," said Menashe. "These people were very scared, and they should have been, because a couple of the boats probably would have sunk. But I had no doubt at any time that me and my boat crew would be able to handle this situation and come out on top."
Menashe said that the efforts shown by the crew reflected positively on Ike.
"I think this says a lot about not only the type of people we have here, but the level of training received to operate this equipment," he said. "The people who stand watches on the RHIB are definitely a special breed. It takes vigilance, selflessness, teamwork and a little bit of courage, and they displayed them all last week."
For related news, visit the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn69.