Skip to main content

The Navy Department Library

Related Content

The Navy Department Library gratefully acknowledges the assistance and encouragement of the Center for Naval Analyses in preparing this online edition for the Naval Historical Center web site.

  • Relief Efforts--Humanitarian Aid-Rescue
Document Type
  • Historical Summary
  • Publication
Wars & Conflicts
File Formats
Location of Archival Materials

A Sampling of U.S. Naval Humanitarian Operations

Adam B. Siegel

4401 Ford Avenue · Post Office Box 16268 · Alexandria, Virginia 22302-0268


This Information Manual provides a sampling of U.S. Naval humanitarian operations over the past four decades. It was prepared as an adjunct to CNA's work on the history of U.S. Navy and Marine Corps crisis-response activity. This manual should not be viewed as a comprehensive documentation but instead as a highlighting of a few examples of U.S. Navy and Marine Corps humanitarian activity.

[The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Naval Historical Center]


Introduction 1
Disaster Relief 2
Rescues at Sea 10
Refugee Assistance 17
Emergency Medical Assistance 19
Nation-Building Activities 20
Other 21
Glossary 23
Bibliography 25
Publication Notes 26


This Information Manual provides a sampling of U.S. Naval humanitarian operations and highlights the range of activities that naval forces can be involved in. This list was produced as an adjunct to the CNA work on U.S. Navy and Marine Corps crisis-response activity that was undertaken at the request of the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Plans, Policy, and Operations (OP-06). The methodological definition used in that work to determine "crisis-response actions" specifically excludes humanitarian operations, because the intent of that study is to examine operations that are considered to have at least a latent potential to lead to international conflict.1 This information manual supplements that work and partially fills a gap in the documentation of the roles and missions of the Navy and Marine Corps over the past 45 years.

U.S. Naval forces perform a wide range of humanitarian operations on an almost daily basis. These activities include rescues at sea, transport of emergency personnel and relief supplies, community service (both in the United States and abroad), emergency relief operations, medical services, and so on.

This information manual separates the various operations into six groupings of activities. These are: disaster relief (earthquakes, firefighting, and so on); rescues at sea; refugee assistance; emergency medical assistance; nation-building activities (such as food aid or construction assistance); and, other actions. This categorization does not reflect official Navy or Marine Corps doctrine, but it does give a logical order to the examples used.

The intent of this manual is not to downplay the other activities of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps nor to imply that the Department of the Navy is the only (or even major) U.S. government organization that undertakes humanitarian missions. Rather, the list was prepared to document the type of actions that Naval forces undertake in this arena. The examples should not be viewed as a comprehensive listing but instead as a sampling of the range of humanitarian missions U.S. Navy and Marine Corps forces have performed over the past 45 years.

The sampling was not done in a systematic manner and is representative primarily of the source material used. (Due to changes in the source material, there is a gap from the early 1980s to the late 1980s for which no humanitarian activities are reported in this manual. This should not be taken as an indication that there was no such humanitarian activity during these years.) Although the range of activities discussed in this manual seems representative of U.S. Navy and Marine Corps humanitarian operations, it is unlikely that the balance between types of activity and branches of the Naval forces participating in such operations is accurately reflected in the sampling.

1 See CNA Research Memorandum 90-246, The Use of Naval Forces in the Post-War Era: U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps Crisis Response Activity, 1946-1990: An Interim Report, by Adam B. Siegel, forthcoming.


Disaster Relief

Naval forces are frequently called on to respond to disasters--both natural and man-made. The activities listed below range from relief actions following floods, earthquakes, and storms to ships' crews and Marines aiding efforts to fight forest fires, to the deployment of Navy ships to assist oil clean-up efforts following the Exxon Valdez oil spill.

Kansas City, USA, July 1951

From 12 through 20 July 1951, personnel from the Ninth Naval District assisted flood relief work in the Kansas City area.

Greece, 14-19 August 1953

The Amphibious Task Unit of the Sixth Fleet, with BLT 2/6 (Reinf.) embarked, assisted in relief operations following earthquakes in the Ionian Islands.

Haiti, October 1954

From 13 to 19 October 1954, USS Saipan operated off the southern coast of Haiti, extending relief and humanitarian aid to victims of Hurricane Hazel. Helicopters from the carrier dropped food, medicine, clothing, and other supplies to the stricken Haitians.

Greece, April 1955

Following a severe earthquake, USS Albany (CA) and William Wood (DD) provided disaster relief to the citizens of Volos, Greece, from 19 through 21 April 1955.

Mexico, October 1955

CVL-48 Saipan, with Helicopter Training Unit 1 aboard, was tasked to Tampico, Mexico, disaster relief operations for 3-10 October 1955. During these operations, the helicopters rescued 5,439 persons marooned on rooftops, trees and other retreats, and delivered 183,017 pounds of food and medical supplies. Helicopters from MAG-26, VMRs 153 and 252, and specialists from the 2d MAW also aided in the rescue work.

Spain, September 1957

Starting on 16 October 1957, USS Lake Champlain (CVS-39) with Marine Helicopter Squadron 262 embarked, aided in locating, feeding, and rescuing victims of a severe flood in the area of Valencia, Spain. Additional ships involved included USS Washtenaw County (LST) and Thuban (AKA).

Ceylon, January 1958

Navy and Marine Corps (20 from HMR-162) helicopters operating off LPH Princeton engaged in rescue work from 2 to 7 January 1958 following major flooding. Two destroyers (Eversole and Shelton) from the 7th Fleet and the tender Duxbury Bay from the Middle East Force aided the relief operations.

Marshall Islands, January 1958

On 9 January 1958, Pacific Fleet air units began delivery of emergency supplies to inhabitants of several islands in the Marshalls, which had been severely damaged by Typhoon Ophelia.

Washington, D.C., February 1958

Severe cold weather during the week of 17 February 1958 froze the Potomac River and stopped the movement of fuel barges. With the aid of a U.S. Coast Guard buoy tender to break the ice, USNS Mission Bouna Ventura delivered 60,000 barrels of fuel oil from Norfolk, Virginia, to Alexandria, Virginia. At the time of arrival of the tanker, only about four hours' fuel supply remained in the General Services Administration storage tanks.


Japan, December 1958

Nine ships of an ASW group, including CVS Yorktown, were diverted from operations at sea to aid the people of Koniya, Japan, who had been left homeless by a fire that swept through the town and destroyed most of its dwellings. Within 24 hours of the disaster, the group delivered food, medicines, clothing, blankets, and tents to the needy Men from the group assisted on the scene until Japanese relief agencies could cope with the situation.

Morocco, December 1958

On 25 December 1958, Navy aircraft from the Naval Air Station, Port Lyautey, rescued 134 persons from a flooded area in Morocco.

New Zealand, March 1959

On 20 March 1959, USS Staten Island (AGB) departed Wellington, New Zealand, with emergency supplies for the storm-devastated New Zealand territorial island Niue, which is south of Samoa. Staten Island delivered six tons of food and clothing.

Uruguay, April 1959

Helicopters (HU-2s) from the ice breaker Edisto aided in rescue operations in the Montevideo, Uruguay, area after flooding. During ten days of operations (16-26 April 1959), the HU-2s carried 277 flood victims to safety.

Taiwan, August 1959

During a major flood in central Taiwan, LPH-6 Thetis Bay provided assistance from 14 to 20 August 1959. Helicopters from Marine Helicopter Squadron 261 flew 897 mercy missions from the ship, airlifting 1.6 million pounds of relief supplies and 855 refugees.

India, September 1959

From 21 through 26 September 1959, USS John S. McCain (DL) made a goodwill visit to Calcutta, India. McCain delivered medical supplies for flood victims in West Bengal.

Japan, September 1959

Following a devastating typhoon, units of the U.S. Seventh Fleet (including the aircraft carrier Kearsarge) distributed over 200,000 pounds of food and medicine, administered over 17,000 typhoid and antibiotic shots to prevent the spread of disease, and evacuated victims in Nagoya, Japan. Relief operations were conducted from 29 September through 6 October 1959.

France, December 1959

From 3 through 6 December 1959, CVA Essex, CAG Boston, DD Vogelsang, DD Mullinnix and DD Myles C. Fox aided relief efforts in the San Raphael area of France after a dam burst.

Morocco, February-March 1960

U.S. Naval aircraft shuttled supplies and equipment to Agadir, Morocco, from Port Lyautey after severe earthquakes devastated the city. In these flights, from 29 February through 6 March 1960, the aircraft also evacuated the injured. USS Newport News (CA) provided emergency supplies, a helicopter, and communication facilities at the scene of the disaster, and 147 Navy and Marine personnel aided in rescuing survivors trapped in the debris.

Brazil, April 1960

From 2 through 13 April 1960, USS Glacier (AGB) conducted flood-relief operations near Fortaleza, Brazil. Glacier was diverted from transit from Antarctica to the United States.


Chile, June 1960

From 26 June through 15 July 1960, USS Catamount (LSD) and an embarked boat group conducted flood-relief operations in the area of Valparaiso, Chile.

Nevada and California, USA, August 1960

Almost 700 Navy personnel from the Naval Auxiliary Air Station, Fallon, Nevada, and from the San Francisco area, helped rangers fight large forest fires in the Tahoe National Forest.

Florida, September 1960

From 4 through 12 September 1960, USS Bushnell (ASR) and Penguin (ASR) conducted relief operations in the Marathon, Florida, area following Hurricane Donna.

Haiti, November-December 1960

Flooding of Lake Miragoane washed out a bridge linking a portion of southwest Haiti with the remainder of the country. Marine Assault Construction Battalion personnel constructed a new bridge and 6.5 miles of improved road in 29 days.

Texas, September 1961

On 12 September 1961, the Navy organized a seven-ship Task Force 135 to proceed to the Texas coast to conduct relief operations in the wake of Hurricane Carla. The ships included CVA-38 Shangri-La, CVS-36 Antietam, two destroyers, an attack transport, and two fleet tugs.

Belize, November 1961

On 4 November 1961, a five-ship U.S. Navy relief force departed for Belize, British Honduras, to engage in relief operations following Hurricane Hattie. The lead ship was CVS-36 Antietam. Helicopters from Training Squadron 8 and Marine Helicopter Squadron 264 carried over 57 tons of food, water, and medical supplies, and transported medical and other relief personnel to areas hit by the hurricane.

Japan, August 1962

Units of the U.S. Seventh Fleet, including one attack aircraft carrier, provided medical assistance, food, and evacuation services to survivors of a volcano eruption on Miyako Island, Japan.

Guam, November 1962

Following damage caused on 11 November 1962 by Typhoon Karen, USNS Fulton (TAP) furnished electrical power to the stricken island of Guam from 13 to 21 November. The ship's sick bay was used as a hospital--five babies were born on board during this period.

Morocco, January 1963

From 7 through 13 January 1953, helicopters from NAS Port Lyautey, NS Rota, and USS Springfield flew rescue and relief missions in the flooded areas of Beth and Sebou Rivers in Morocco. Over 45,000 pounds of food, medicines, and emergency supplies were flown in, and some 320 marooned persons were lifted to safety.

Haiti, October 1963

U.S. Navy and Marine Corps units spent nearly two weeks conducting relief operations for the people of Haiti hard hit by Hurricane Flora. Cuba refused a U.S. offer of aid. About 250 tons of relief supplies were airlifted to Haiti by helicopter; another 125 tons were delivered by landing craft in an across-the-beach operation. Ships participating were CVS-39 Lake Champlain, APD-60 Liddle, AKA-61 Muliphen, and LPH-6 Thetis Bay. Navy and Marine Corps cargo aircraft delivered supplies from East Coast stations.


Alaska, March 1964

On 28 March 1964, within five hours after a devastating earthquake in Alaska, the seaplane tender Salisbury Sound was under way from NAS Whidbey Island to render assistance. P-3A Orions and C-54 Skymasters, moving up from Moffett Field, were also en route with emergency supplies within hours of the earthquake. For 14 days, Salisbury Sound provided power and heat to the severely damaged Naval Station at Kodiak while its crew served in many capacities to help people ashore.

Costa Rica, May 1964

At the request of the Costa Rican government, a team of 33 Navy Seabees and 271 tons of heavy construction equipment were transported to Costa Rica by air to carry out emergency flood-control measures in the area of Mt. Irazu.

Hispaniola, August 1964

On 29 August 1964, LPH-4 Boxer and two LSDs arrived off the coast of Hispaniola to give medical aid and helicopter evacuation services to people in areas of Haiti and the Dominican Republic badly damaged by Hurricane Cleo.

Vietnam, November 1964

During major flooding of Quang Tri, Quang Ngai, and Binh Dinh provinces, amphibious units of Task Force 76 provided relief. For example, USMC helicopters (HMM-162) from LPH Princeton delivered 1,300 tons of relief supplies.

Mexico, October 1966

A joint task force of Marine, Navy, Army, and Air Force personnel airlifted food and supplies to Tampico to victims of Hurricane Inez. Over 102,000 pounds of relief supplies were flown in, 80 flood victims were evacuated, and several hundred victims were treated by Navy doctors.

Mississippi, USA, August 1969

U.S. Navy Seabees and helicopters from Training Squadron Eight (HT-8) evacuated more than 820 persons from Pass Christian, Mississippi, on 20 August 1969 after their town was devastated by Hurricane Camille. More than 1,700 Seabees participated in road clearing and salvage projects all along the stricken Gulf Coast. The Construction Battalion Center (which had been hard hit by the hurricane on 17 August, with 46 buildings demolished and 13 Seabees injured) in Gulfport, Mississippi, was the central point of relief efforts, housing some 500 Georgia Power Company employees and highway repairmen during the cleanup operations. The Seabee center loaned some 45 generators to various hospitals, nursing homes, and other vital locations. The submarine tender USS Bushnell (AS-15) provided emergency aid to the residents of Pilottown, Louisiana. The ship's medical officer and corpsmen went ashore to provide medical care, while other crewmen delivered fresh water and food.

Tunisia, October 1969

Following flooding in Tunisia in October 1969, helicopters off AFS-5 White Plains flew a number of relief missions. Six of the pilots, from Helicopter Support Squadron, Detachment 86, were awarded Tunisia's "Order of the Republic, Degree of Chevalier" on 17 February 1970.

Peru, June 1970

On 9 June 1970, following a major earthquake in Peru, USS Guam left Panama for Peru. On 12 June, 11 days of relief flights by 16 helicopters of HMM-365 operating off Guam began. During the over 800 flights, the helicopters transported medical teams into remote areas, brought back victims for


medical care, and delivered more than 55 tons of emergency relief items.

California, USA, September 1970

Amidst a series of brush fires in San Diego County, several hundred U.S. Navy and Marine Corps personnel were committed in "Tempest Rapid" to support local firefighting efforts.

Philippines, September 1970

Following Typhoon Georgia, USMC water purification equipment was flown to the Philippines from Japan.

Philippines, October 1970

Following Hurricane Joan in October 1970, relief operations were conducted off USS Okinawa (LPH-3), USS Anchorage (LSD-36), and USS Duluth (LPD-6). CH-46 helicopters from HMM-164 flew 70 relief sorties and delivered over 65 tons of supplies in five days of operations. USN and USMC medical teams treated over 1,000 patients following the hurricane.

Vietnam, October 1970

Following the ravages of Typhoon Kate and flood waters that inundated some 140 square miles of Vietnam south of Da Nang, the helicopter forces of 1st Marine Aircraft Whig performed rescue and relief operations for over 9,000 South Vietnamese. Initial rescue operations began on 29 October 1970 when MAG-16 evacuated some 900 people on the first day during floods deemed the worst since 1964.

Pennsylvania, USA, June 1972

On 23 June 1972, helicopters from HS-2, HS-15, HS-74, and HS-75 came to the aid of flood-stricken residents in the Wilkes-Barre, Scranton, and Pittstown areas of Pennsylvania. Besides the extensive rescue and evacuation work conducted by these squadrons, they also were involved in transporting medical supplies and personnel, equipment, food, and clothing to the flood victims.

Philippines, July 1972

Following Typhoon Rita in July 1972, U.S. military forces provided a wide range of aid to the 500,000 victims. For example, HMM-165 evacuated over 2,000 Filipinos threatened by flooding, included 150 women and children rescued from a flooded island in the Ango River who were brought aboard USS Tripoli. USMC helicopters flew in 350 tons of relief supplies, in addition to flying in disaster relief teams and evacuating victims. Tripoli was on scene from 22 July until New Orleans relieved her on 5 August.

Tunisia, March 1973

In response to an urgent request for flood relief from the American Embassy in Tunisia on 28 March, one aircraft carrier (Forrestal) was in position to provide helicopter assistance by first light 29 March (about 13 hours after the request). The helicopter operations were also supported by one destroyer (DDG) and two LPDs. U.S. helicopters flew about 40 sorties, rescuing or relocating 729 persons, moving 27 tons of cargo, lifting 17 doctors to evacuation centers, lifting an emergency appendectomy to the CVA, and evacuating the entire sheep herd (227 sheep) from one flooded village. In addition, the carrier's bakery provided 1,200 loaves of bread for distribution, and crew members contributed money to buy supplies for homeless children. During the relief mission, U.S. personnel temporarily based at Tunis airport coordinated the rescue efforts flown by helicopters, not only of U.S. forces, but from Tunisia, Italy, France, and Libya as well.

Tunisia, December 1973

From 14 through 17 December 1973, helicopters from USS Iwo Jima conducted refugee rescue, equipment


deliveries, and other flood-associated missions in Tunisia.

Philippines, August 1974

Following major flooding in the Philippines, helicopters from HMM-164 (off LPH-10 Tripoli and AFS-7 San Jose), as well as USN helicopters, flew 244 sorties over six days of operations (18-24 August 1974). USAF support included flying supplies from Manila to Clark Air Force Base. Both rescue missions and food-delivery flights were flown.

Mauritius, February 1975

On 9 February 1975, AOE-2 Camden began disaster relief operations at Mauritius following Cyclone Cervaise. CVAN-65 Enterprise, CGN-9 Long Beach, and AFS-1 Mars joined the relief operations the next day. Carrier personnel spent more than 10,000 man-hours rendering such assistance as restoring water, power, and telephone systems; clearing roads and debris; and providing helicopter, medical, food, and potable water support to the stricken area. Enterprise departed on the 16th.

Washington State, December 1975

Helicopters from Whidbey Island Naval Air Station conducted SAR operations in the northwestern areas of Washington State flooded by recent rains. Over four days, some 113 people were rescued after being stranded by the flood waters.

Guatemala, February 1976

In late February 1976, three ships from Amphibious Squadron Four (LST-1190 Boulder, LST-1193 Fairfax County, and LSD-34 Hermitage) transported U.S. Army Engineers from Morehead City, North Carolina, to Guatemala for road and construction work following devastating earthquakes. The engineers were transported back to the United States by ships from Amphibious Squadron Two in late April.

Italy, May 1976

Following a 6 May 1976 earthquake in the Tagliamento River valley northeast of Venice, more than ten tons of relief supplies were flown in from the Naples Navy community by USN C-130 Hercules aircraft.

Guam and Philippines, May 1976

Following massive damage caused by Typhoon Pamela on 20 May 1976, U.S. Navy ships (including AD-14 Dixie, LST-1193 Peoria, and TAKR-9 Meteor) assisted in recovery work in Guam. MSC ships transported disaster relief supplies from Subic Bay to Guam. Over 1,000 Seventh Fleet personnel assisted in relief efforts in the civilian community. On 21 May, Typhoon Olga moved across central Luzon and caused massive flooding. U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force personnel conducted disaster relief operations with helicopters delivering emergency supplies to isolated communities. Over 1,900 people were evacuated, and more than 370,000 pounds of disaster relief supplies and 9,340 gallons of fuel were provided by Navy and Air Force helicopters. Helicopters from HS-4 aboard Ranger, from HC-3 on Camden, Mars, and White Plains; and from NAS Cubi Point assisted in the Philippine disaster-relief effort.

Venezuela, July 1976

The Military Sealift Command ship USNS Sealift Arctic (TAO-175) spent 30 days shuttling fresh water to Curacao to relieve a severe water shortage due to drought and an accident to Curacao Island's water distillation plant.

Azores, January 1980

On 2 January 1980, a detachment of P-3B Orions of VP-10, deployed at Rota, Spain, flew photo reconnaissance


missions to locate areas damaged in the earthquake that had struck the Azores the day before, killing some 50 persons and injuring another 500.

Algeria, October 1980

On 12 October 1980, ships of the Amphibious Forces, Sixth Fleet, including USS Guadalcanal, began assisting the victims of a massive earthquake that had devastated the Algerian city of Al Asnam. The ships took up positions 20-25 miles offshore to render helicopter support in the disaster relief efforts.

Italy, November 1980

On 25 November 1980, RH-53D Sea Stallions from VR-24, together with units of the U.S. Army and Air Force, began disaster-relief assistance to victims of the devastating earthquake at Avellino, Italy. The earthquake, on 23 November, killed over 3,000 persons and left many more homeless. The Commander, Fleet Air, Mediterranean, headquartered at Naples, was director of the U.S. military support efforts.

Louisiana, USA, May 1983

At the request of the Governor of Louisiana, on 29 May 1983 the Marine Corps provided assault amphibian vehicles (AAVs) to assist in flood-control efforts as the rising Mississippi River threatened the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola.

Sardinia, July 1983

Several hundred sailors from SSN-637 Sturgeon, SSN-679 Silversides, and AS-18 Orion fought fires and assisted local rescue efforts on Sardinia.

Exxon Valdez Oil Spill, Prince William Sound, April-August 1989

Following the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Prince William Sound, two U.S. Navy amphibious ships (LPD-10 Juneau and LSD-43 Fort McHenry) supported oil clean-up efforts. The ships operated as floating hotels for members of the cleanup crew and acted as the command centers for the clean-up effort.

Hurricane Hugo, September-October 1989

Following Hurricane Hugo (21 September 1989), Marines from Camp Lejeune, with Navy medical corpsmen, assisted in the Charleston, South Carolina, area through 10 October. At the height of operations, over 850 Marines and sailors were involved, with 8 CH-53s, 2 KC-130s, and other equipment used.

U.S. Navy ships provided relief support throughout the affected areas in the Caribbean. Over ten ships were involved, including: LSD Whidbey Island, LST Spartanburg County, and ARS Preserver at Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico; CGN 25 Bainbridge and LSD-38 Pensacola at St. Croix; and, LPD-4 Austin at Culebra. Other ships participating in relief efforts included DDG-46 Preble, AE-28 Santa Barbara, FFG-16 Clifton Sprague, DD-18 Semmes, FFG-29 Stephen W. Groves, TAO-143 Neosho, DDG-43 Dahlgren, FF-1096 Valdez, and LSD-44 Gunston Hall.

California, USA, October 1989

Following the 17 October 1989 earthquake in the San Francisco area, a variety of Naval forces provided relief services, with a total of 24 U.S. Navy and Military Sealift Command ships rendering assistance. LHA-5 Peleliu provided shelter for 300 victims and provided helicopter support. FF-1060 Lang provided steam for power generation, FF-1054 Gray provided electric power, CGN-39 Texas provided communications support. Helicopter detachments supporting relief efforts flew from AOR-3 Kansas City and AE-32 Flint, and Marines from the LST-1185 Schenectady aided local relief efforts.


CG-21 Gridley provided fresh water and other services to Treasure Island, because supplies were interrupted by broken pipes. Helicopters from Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron One Five (HM 15) provided heavy-lift capability in the disaster area.

Samoa, March 1990

In March 1990, a detachment of 30 Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 133 deployed from Guam to Samoa for 30 days to repair damage done by Hurricane Ofa in February.

Antigua, April 1990

Seven months following Hurricane Hugo, on 26 April 1990, FFG-24 Jack Williams loaded 12 tons of medical supplies donated by citizens of Charleston for delivery to Antigua on April 30.

Philippines, July 1990

On 16 July 1990, an earthquake measuring 7.7 on the Richter scale occurred in central Luzon. U.S. Navy and Marine Corps assistance included a Navy Medical Contingency team and a Marine Combat Service Support Team (CSST) transported to Cabanatuan City (about 75 miles north of Manila, close to the epicenter) on the day of the earthquake.


Rescues At Sea

Navy ships, not surprisingly, are often in position to aid other ships at sea. Rescuing crewmembers from sunken ships, helping the crews of merchant vessels put out engine-room fires, towing stricken vessels into port, providing medical care to sick mariners, and aiding Coast Guard forces find lost boats are just a few of the ways in which Navy forces perform humanitarian missions at sea. The following are some examples over the past 40 years.

East China Sea, April 1953

On 15 April 1953, AO-105 Mispillion rescued crewmen from the Chinese Nationalist steamer Menten, which burned and sank off Kaohsiung, Taiwan. Of 52 men aboard, only 14 survivors were recovered.

Eastern Atlantic, September 1957

Transports of the Military Sea Transportation Service and P-2V aircraft from North African Naval Air Stations conducted search and rescue efforts for survivors from the German sailing ship Pamir. USNS Upshur delivered the few teen-age cadet survivors to Casablanca.

Western Pacific, January-February 1960

USS John S. Mccain (DL) rescued the 41-man crew of the Japanese freighter Shinwa Maru near Okinawa on 24 January 1960. On 1 February, USS Taussig (DD) took the disabled Chinese ship, Yunghsin, under tow near Taiwan. On 2 February, USS Haverford (DDR) returned three Indonesians to Ternate, Indonesia. They had been rescued in December 1960 after spending 74 days adrift at sea and were hospitalized for seven weeks at the U.S. Naval Hospital, Guam. Also on 2 February, USS Tioga County (LST) rescued nine Chinese fishermen from a sinking boat near Luzon, Philippine Islands.

Pacific Ocean, March 1960

On 7 March 1960, USS Kearsarge (CVS) rescued four Soviet Army men drifting in a disabled landing craft 1,000 miles northwest of Midway Island. The men were delivered to the Soviet Consulate in San Francisco.

Western Pacific, June 1960

On 10 June 1960, seven helicopters of HS-4 from the USS Yorktown rescued 53 merchant seamen from the British freighter Shun Lee, which was breaking up on Pratas Reef, 500 miles northwest of Manila. Under storm conditions in the wake of Typhoon Mary, the helicopters took 25 men from the wreck and 28 more from Pratas Island inside the reef.

Western Atlantic, December 1960

On 22 December 1960, helicopters of HS-3 and HU-2 from USS Valley Forge rescued 27 men from the oiler SS Pine Ridge as she was breaking up in heavy seas 100 miles off Cape Hatteras.

Caribbean, February 1961

On 15 February 1961, USS Bluebird (MSC) rescued 11 crewmen of the burning and sinking motor ship, SS Joanne, off Georgetown, Cayman Islands.

Red Sea, March 1961

USS Sperry (DD) answered a distress call from the Danish merchantman Hans Boye in the Red Sea on 7 March 1961. Sperry provided fresh water and repairs, allowing the Danish ship to get underway.

Taiwan, April 1961

In Kaohsiung Harbor, Taiwan, a firefighting party from USS Pritchett (DD) aided in extinguishing an


engine-room fire aboard the burning Chinese tanker Kwang Lung on 5 April 1961. Kwang Lung was carrying over a million gallons of gasoline.

South China Sea, June 1961

On 4 June 1961, USS Pritchett (DD) took the disabled Chinese merchant vessel Taiyo under tow to Kaohsiung, Taiwan, after Taiyo signaled for help to an aircraft from Patrol Squadron 4.

Pacific Ocean, October 1961

On 8 October 1961, USS Tulare (AKA) and Princeton (LPH) rescued 84 seamen from the American merchant ship Muse and the Lebanese merchant ship Sheik. Both vessels were aground on Kita Daita Jima in the Pacific.

Western Pacific, December 1961

From 3 through 8 December 1961, USS Floyd B. Parks (DD) conducted a successful search for the flooded Japanese boat Nan Ka Maru and provided assistance to the crew until a Japanese tug arrived on the scene.

South China Sea, January 1962

On 28 January 1962, USS Cook (APD) rescued 25 crewmen from the stern section of the Panamanian tanker Stanvac Sumatra, which had broken in two in the South China Sea.

Philippine Sea, February 1962

On 5 February 1962, USS Stoddard and Surfbird (ADG) rescued 29 crewmen from the sinking Greek merchant vessel Yanix off Luzon, Philippine Islands.

Inland Sea, February 1962

On 24 February, crewmen from USS Woodpecker (MSC) and Widgeon (MSC) boarded the burning Japanese tanker Daiyu Maru in the Inland Sea and succeeded in extinguishing the fire.

New Jersey Coast, November 1964

On 26 November 1964, nine helicopters from HU-2 and four from NAS Lakehurst assisted the Coast Guard in the rescue of 17 men from the Norwegian tanker Stolt Dagali, cut in two by a collision with the Israeli liner Shalom off the New Jersey coast.

South China Sea, September 1966

On 16 September 1966, helicopters from USS Oriskany rescued the entire 44-man crew of the British merchant ship August Moon as she was breaking up in heavy seas on Pratas Reef 175 miles southeast of Hong Kong.

South China Sea, November 1967

On 4 November 1967, the British merchant vessel SS Habib Marikar went aground on a reef at Lincoln Island in the Tonkin Gulf, with 44 men aboard. Forty-three of the crew were rescued in heavy seas by landing craft from APA-215 Navarro. On 6 November, the Liberian freighter SS Royal Fortunes, en route from Saigon to Kaohsiung, Taiwan, with a crew of 37 aboard, ran aground on Pratas Reef in the Tonkin Gulf. After being pounded by 15-foot waves for 24 hours, the ship was in danger of breaking up, and the crew was removed by helicopter to CVA-43 Coral Sea.

South China Sea, July 1969

The destroyer USS Renshaw (DD-499) rescued five North Vietnamese fishermen when their 25-foot fishing boat began breaking up in heavy seas in international waters off the coast of South Vietnam. Renshaw was directed from plane guard duty with the attack carrier USS Ticonderoga (CVA-14) to the scene of the rescue by a tracker aircraft from Early Warning Squadron 111. The five fishermen were found floating in a raft dropped by a USAF CH3C helicopter.


Malta, September 1969

Several Sixth Fleet ships came to the rescue of a burning Maltese freighter, Kristine Pace, at her berth in Grand Harbor, Malta. Within eight minutes from the first call for help, an LCM-6 from LPA-249 Francis Marion was on the scene. Firefighting teams from LKA-103 Rankin, LSD-20 Donner, LSD-1 Ashland, LST-1175 York County, DD-777 Zellars, DD-859 Norris, and AD-28 Grand Canyon joined the fire-fighting efforts. After the topside fires were brought under control, ARS-41 Opportune tied up alongside the stricken ship. The fire was brought under control after burning for six hours.

Mediterranean, September 1969

On 23 September 1969, a UH-2B Sea Sprite helicopter from CLG-3 Galveston picked up 15 crewmen and passengers from the grounded Greek tanker Angel Gabriel, which was breaking up in a violent storm near St. Thomas Point, Marsascal, near Malta.

Western Atlantic, November 1969

On 5 November 1969, the Liberian tanker Keo broke in half about 30 miles east of Cape May, New Jersey. Two USCG cutters, two C-130 aircraft, DD-709 Hugh Purvis, DLG-33 Fox, and DD-879 Leary were dispatched to the scene where the 36 crewmen on the 632-foot tanker were at first reported safe on the after section of the ship. Before the rescuers arrived, the stern sank, and all 36 crewmen were lost.

Atlantic Ocean, January 1970

On 18 January 1970, following a fire aboard the Norwegian freighter Thordis Presthus, 20 crew members were rescued by DE-1030 Joseph K. Taussig and DE-1006 Dealey.

Caribbean, May 1970

On 2 May 1970, a VC-8 helicopter rescued 26 people from a Dutch Antillean Airlines DC-9 ditched in the Caribbean.

Pacific, September 1970

On 14 September 1970, AFS-3 Niagara Falls found and rescued the 42-foot sailboat Galilee that had been the object of an intense search for more than a month. When sighted, the boat was about 400 miles west/northwest of Honolulu. The three crew members had been without food since 27 July (the Galilee departed Tahiti on 17 June for Honolulu).

South China Sea, October 1970

The disabled cargo vessel SS Tung Yang, of Panamanian registry, was towed to port through heavy seas by the combined efforts of LST 1157 Terrill County, LST-1165 Washoe County and ARS 23 Deliver. The refrigerated cargo vessel was about 150 miles northeast of Da Nang, South Vietnam, when she reported a broken thrust shaft and damaged rudder in heavy seas.

Mediterranean, February 1971

On 5 February, four helicopters from CVA-59 Forrestal rescued two passengers and 18 crewmen from the foundering Greek-owned ore carrier Flamingo, 100 miles east of Sicily.

Mid-Atlantic, October 1973

The USNS Hayes (T-AGOR-16), a Military Sealift Command (MSC) oceanographic research ship, rescued 36 seamen from lifeboats in the mid-Atlantic following the sinking of the Greek freighter Erygenes. Five crewmen died in a fire on board the Greek ship, and one was missing.


Philippine Sea, February 1974

On 13 February 1974, TAK-241 Private Francis X. McCraw rescued six Philippine crew members of a lumber-carrying coastal trader that capsized. After a search for ten other crewmen, the ship carried the survivors to Subic Bay.

Mediterranean, February 1974

A helicopter from the U.S. Naval Station, Rota, Spain, lifted three burned crewmen from SS Augusta on 18 February 1974 following an explosion aboard the ship. The lift was made in rain squalls, winds of 20 knots, and 8-12 foot swells.

Atlantic, February 1974

On 20 February 1974, AOE-3 Seattle responded to a distress signal from the Greek tanker Damon in the Virginia Capes area. A helicopter transferred a damage-control party from Seattle to Damon; the flooding was slowed and a commercial tug took the Greek tanker in tow.

Pacific, February 1974

On 27 February 1974, SSBN-625 Henry Clay rescued three men from a 16-foot motor boat about 60 n.mi. southwest of Guam and brought them to the island.

Azores, March 1974

On 2 March 1974, two U.S. Navy aircraft unsuccessfully searched an area 1,230 miles southwest of the Azores for the missing balloonist Thomas L. Gatch.

Pacific, March 1974

On 17 March 1974, AOR-1 Wichita rendezvoused with the Soviet fishing vessel Paduga and med-evacuated a crew member with a serious head injury. On 18 March, the injured crew member was transferred by helicopter from Wichita to Midway Island and by Coast Guard aircraft from Midway to Hawaii for treatment.

Philippine Sea, September 1974

On 6 September 1974, CVA-61 Ranger, operating east of Subic Bay, responded to a medical emergency on board the tanker SS Permina Saludba. Four crewmen injured in an engine-room explosion were lifted by helicopter to the carrier and then to Manila.

Mediterranean, September 1974

On 8 September 1974, a TWA-707 en route from Tel Aviv to Rome crashed in the Ionian Sea after take off from Athens. CV-62 Independence and DLG-34 Biddle were diverted to the crash site to assist in the search for survivors/victims. There were 88 people aboard, of which 18 were U.S. citizens. Sixteen bodies and debris were recovered by U.S. units. Search and Rescue (SAR) efforts ended on 10 September.

Atlantic Ocean, September 1974

On 10 September 1974, CVA-59 Forrestal, returning from Mediterranean duty, diverted to provide medical assistance to the Liberian tanker Eliane, which suffered a boiler explosion. Two crewmen were taken to the carrier for transfer to Norfolk.

Caribbean, September 1974

On 12 September 1974, USNS TAO-50 Tallulah rescued 256 crew members from the fire-struck luxury liner SS Ambassador. Aircraft from NAS Key West, supported fire-fighting efforts of three USCG cutters.

English Channel, October 1974

On 16 October 1974, AOR-4 Savannah placed a rescue team on the German merchant vessel Eleonora H., which was on fire in the English Channel. The firefighting team put the fire out in five hours.


Pacific Ocean, December 1974

On 3 December 1974, SS-563 Tang, returning to San Diego from UNITAS XV, encountered a Salvadorean fishing ship off Central America that had been adrift for three days. Tang personnel repaired the engine, provided food, and stood by until the ship was under tow by a second Salvadorean fishing vessel.

South China Sea, January 1975

On 27 January 1975, DE-1058 Meyerkord rescued all 31 crewmen from the Panamanian-flag freighter Gulf Banker, which sank in the South China Sea.

Atlantic Ocean, February 1975

On 4 February 1975, DD-863 Steinaker, a U.S. Naval Reserve training destroyer, rescued three Americans from a fishing boat adrift eighty n.mi. east of Jacksonville and towed the 35-foot boat to port.

Ionian Sea, August 1975

On 8 September 1975, FF-1093 Capodanno rescued the 18 crew members from the Liberian merchant ship Brilliant and placed them ashore at Augusta Bay.

Philippine Sea, September 1975

On 12 September 1975, DE-1069 Bagley rescued six Filipino seamen from a sinking copra boat in the San Bernadino Straits and transferred them to a fishing boat before continuing its transit to Subic from Guam.

Palma, Spain, November 1975

On 8 November, over 100 sailors and Marines from LPH-12 Inchon and LPD-12 Shreveport fought a fire aboard a 6,000-ton Spanish merchant vessel at Palma.

Puerto Rico, February 1976

On 4 February 1976, DD-827 Robert A. Owens, a Naval Reserve Force destroyer homeported in Galveston, Texas, helped the British merchant ship Lapland extinguish an engine-room fire as both were moored in San Juan, Puerto Rico. A ten-man team fought the fire for three hours and was credited with saving the freighter.

Mediterranean, March 1976

On 22 March 1976, CG-12 Dahlgren rescued a Saudi Arabian tugboat and its British crew 80 miles south of Crete. The tug had suffered an engine-room explosion and fire. Working in heavy seas, Dahlgren took the tug in tow, brought the crew aboard, and provided medical assistance. On 25 March, the two ships arrived in Alexandria, Egypt.

Gulf of Mexico, April 1976

On 15 April 1976, an offshore drilling platform, Ocean Express, tipped over and sank in the wind-whipped Gulf of Mexico east of Corpus Christi as it was moving through 15-foot seas. CVT-16 Lexington steamed to the scene to coordinate rescue efforts with the Coast Guard. The training carrier pulled aboard a collapsed survival capsule and recovered the bodies of 13 crew members.

Red Sea, May 1976

On 3 May 1976, FF-1040 Garcia rendered assistance to the Greek merchant ship Kyra Eleni in the Red Sea that experienced a steering-gear casualty. A team boarded the ship and made necessary repairs.

Philippines, May 1976

On 24 May 1976, FF-1055 Hepburn provided aid to a grounded merchant vessel on Igsoso Point, Mindoro, until the Philippine Coast Guard took over.


Southern Californian Coast, June 1976

On 6 June 1976, CG-16 Leahy aided Coast Guard rescue efforts off southern California. The 120-foot research ship Acquisition was on fire and sinking, the 19 on board were evacuated, and the fires fought until the ship was abandoned and sank.

Indian Ocean, June 1976

On 6 June 1976, TAO-170 Sealift China Sea rescued 30 seamen from the Republic of China merchant vessel SS Victory Glee. On 9 June, the seamen were put ashore in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Indian Ocean, August 1976

On 26 August 1976, the Middle East Force (MEF) ship FF-1093 Capodanno was diverted from a voyage to Karachi to rendezvous off the Somali coast with three new Kenyan Navy patrol boats transiting from the United Kingdom. The boats were low on fuel and were having difficulties in bad weather. Capodanno fueled the boats and helped them reach Mombassa.

Baltic, October 1976

On 4 October 1976, DD-938 Jonas Ingram rescued seven survivors from a Finnish motor craft that had capsized and sunk two days earlier. The survivors were put ashore at Karlskrona, Sweden.

Mediterranean, January 1978

On 19 January 1978, the Sixth Fleet carrier CVN-68 Nimitz, CGN-37 South Carolina, DD-942 Bigelow rescued 43 crewmen from the burning Indian freighter Jagat Padmini. While conducting the rescue at sea, a helicopter from the Nimitz crashed at sea. All four crewmen were rescued.

Florida Straits, August 1979

SSN 693 Cincinnati rescued a seaman who fell off the Finnish merchant ship Finn Beaver in the Florida Straits on 13 August 1979.

Caribbean, March 1981

On 8 March 1981, a Navy P-3 maritime patrol aircraft and Coast Guard HC-130 aircraft rescued 11 survivors from the Israeli merchant ship Masada, which sank 96 miles southeast of Bermuda in a gale. CV-59 Forrestal, FF-1080 Paul, DD-945 Edson, and FF 1091 Miller assisted in the rescue.

South China Sea, March 1981

On 10 March 1981, CV-41 Midway rescued 17 civilians following the crash of their Gulf Oil Company helicopter in the South China Sea, 27 miles northeast of Singapore.

Arabian Sea, July 1981

On 16 July 1981, CGN 36 California rescued 39 crewmen from the burning merchant ship Irene Sincerity 180 miles southwest of Karachi, Pakistan. An S-3A Viking aircraft operating from CV-66 America spotted the burning vessel and directed California to her.

Philippines, September 1981

On 20 September 1981, the Philippine Navy frigate Datu Kalantiaw was forced aground by Typhoon Clara while at anchor near Clayan Island, 340 miles north of Manila. Eighteen of the crew survived, and 40 bodies were recovered. AE-29 Mount Hood, with a special medical team embarked, joined in rescue operations on 21 September. USN helicopters from Cubi Point also assisted in the rescue operations.


Hecate Straits, North-Eastern Pacific, June 1989

Following five weeks in support of the oil spill cleanup in Prince William Sound, LSD-43 Fort McHenry responded to a call to assist the sailboat Cinderella. McHenry took the sailboat, which was taking on water, under tow until a Canadian Coast Guard vessel arrived on the scene.

Central Pacific, July 1989

DD-965 Kinkaid and Coast Guard forces from Hawaii rescued a sailboat stranded on a reef 100 miles east of Midway Island.

Earle, New Jersey, USA, October 1989

On 3 October 1989, LSI-1193 Fairfax County assisted U.S. Coast Guard forces in firefighting and recovery efforts on board the civilian fishing vessel Christy Lynn. The fire was extinguished, and the vessel was "dewatered" with the assistance of a Fairfax County rescue and assistance detail.

North Pacific, October 1989

From 3 through 5 October 1989, four U.S. Navy frigates (Wadsworth, Duncan, Puller, and Tisdale) provided rescue and assistance support to the Korean merchant vessel Pan Dynasty south of Attu Island. Over 20 crewmen were evacuated from the vessel. These ships were withdrawn from a North Pacific exercise to perform this search and rescue mission.

North Arabian Sea, January 1990

On 20 January 1990, CGN-9 Long Beach aided a disabled Indian boat adrift 180 miles east of Muscat, Oman. Long Beach crewmembers repaired the boat's engines and supplied the crew with provisions and medical care.

South China Sea, January 1990

On 25 January 1990, four Seventh Fleet ships rescued 14 Chinese seamen after the merchant vessel Huazhu sank 40 miles north of the Philippine island of Luzon. CG-57 Lake Champlain, FF-1065 Stein, FF-1064 Lockwood, and TAO-106 Navasota responded to Huazhu's distress call when she began taking on water.

Western Atlantic, January 1990

While on a training flight on 25 January 1990, a helicopter from LPH-7 Guadalcanal rescued three fishermen when their boat sank three miles off Cape Henry, Virginia.

Eastern Pacific, February 1990

On 15 February 1990, CV-64 Constellation rescued two people from the crippled sailboat Moby Dick. A SH-3 Sea King helicopter from Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Seven Five (HS-75) performed the rescue 480 miles south of San Diego.

Persian Gulf, April 1990

While operating near the Strait of Hormuz, FF-1076 Fanning provided emergency medical assistance to a sailor aboard the Liberian tanker Indiana. An SH-2 Seasprite helicopter from HSL-35 embarked on Fanning transported the sailor to a hospital in Fujairah, Oman.

Caribbean, July 1990

On 8 July 1990, CG-27 Josephus Daniels rescued four pleasure boaters after a fire engulfed their boat. The Daniels was conducting operations off the coast of Puerto Rico as part of the joint U.S.-South American UNITAS 31 exercise.


Refugee Assistance

The Navy is often called on to aid stricken refugees. This can range from providing transportation services to medical care to rescuing desperate refugees from unseaworthy boats. Over the past decade, the most prominent Navy activity of this type has been the relatively frequent rescue of Vietnamese refugees in the South China Sea. The following are a few examples of Navy assistance to refugees over the past four and one-half decades.

Middle East, Dec 1948-Jan 1949

AD-20 Hamal deployed from the United Kingdom for 37 days to deliver relief supplies (blankets) to Beirut and Port Said. Hamal departed London 10 December 1948 and arrived in Beirut on the 21st, where 60,000 blankets were unloaded. Hamal then went to Port Said, where the remaining 70,000 blankets were delivered. She departed Port Said on 26 December and returned to the United Kingdom on 14 January 1949.

Hungary, December 1956

Operation Safe Haven was conducted from 18 December 1956 through 14 February 1957. Ships of the Navy's Military Sea Transportation Service (USNS Eltinge, Haan, Marine Carp, and Walker--all TAPs) transported 8,944 refugees from the Hungarian revolution from Bremerhaven, Germany, to New York.

South China Sea, May 1979

On 5 May 1979, FF 1073 Robert E. Peary rescued 440 Vietnamese refugees from their disabled craft 400 miles south of Thailand.

South China Sea, 1980

On 30 January 1980, AE-26 Kilauea rescued 67 Vietnamese refugees in the South China Sea. On 22 April 1980, CG-18 Worden rescued 44 Vietnamese refugees in the South China Sea. On 25 April, USNS Sealift Antarctic rescued 59 Vietnamese refugees about 300 miles northeast of Saigon. A P-3 aircraft from Patrol Squadron Four directed the ship to the rescue. On 1 May, CGN-9 Long Beach rescued 107 Vietnamese refugees about 250 miles southeast of Saigon. On 10 June, a USN P-3 located a refugee boat in the South China Sea and directed the American merchant ship SS Point Margo to rescue the 28 refugees. On 1 July, TAOT-176 Sealift Antarctic rescued 176 Vietnamese refugees and 9 Indonesians from a disabled Indonesian craft in the South China Sea. On 15 July, DDG-16 Joseph Strauss rescued 44 Vietnamese refugees. DD-972 rescued 84 refugees 300 miles northeast of Singapore on 4 August. On 11 August, the SS Transcolorado, an MSC-chartered ship, rescued 67 Vietnamese refugees, 240 miles southeast of Saigon.

On 21 August, CGN-35 Truxtun rescued 42 Vietnamese refugees 210 miles southeast of Saigon, and DD-976 Merrill rescued 62 200 miles southeast of Saigon. The next day, TAO 107 Passumpsic, guided by P-3 aircraft from Patrol Squadrons 26 and 1, rescued 28 refugees. On 3 September, DD-966 Hewitt rescued 12 refugees. On 1 October, DDG-21 Cochrane rescued 104 refugees about 620 miles east of Saigon, ATS-3 Brunswick rescued 27 two days later about 300 miles southeast of Saigon, and, on 6 October, LCC-19 Blue Ridge, rescued 91 refugees. On 27 October, TAOT-175 Sealift Arctic rescued 300 refugees 240 miles southeast of Saigon. On 29 October, DDG-33 Parsons rescued 110 more 330 miles south of Saigon. On 8 November, FF-1067 Francis Hammond rescued 85 refugees 200 miles southeast of the Vietnamese coast.

Cuban Refugees, May 1980

On 30 April 1980, President Carter ordered the Navy to divert ships scheduled for a Caribbean naval exercise


to assist in rescuing Cuban refugees who were in distress aboard overcrowded private vessels. On 1 May, the Department of Defense announced that Atlantic Fleet ships would be diverted from Exercise Solid Shield 80 to assist the U.S. Coast Guard in the Florida Straits. Navy ships assigned to the operations included: LHA-2 Saipan, LST-1190 Boulder, LPD-15 Ponce, LSI-1188 Saginaw, LPD-12 Shreveport, MSO-448 Illusive, MSO-490 Leader, MSO-443 Fidelity, MSO-441 Exultant, MSO-431 Dominant, MSO-433 Engage. On 9 May, a landing craft from LHA-2 Saipan took 140 Cuban refugees aboard. On 3 June, President Carter authorized the involuntary call-up of USCG reservists to take over the regular duties of Coast Guard personnel assigned to aid with the Cuban refugee operations.

On 12 June, the operation began to wind down. Over 125,000 refugees came to the United States from Cuba. Over 2,000 Coast Guard personnel were involved, and the 7th Coast Guard District in Miami was augmented during the operation by 17 additional cutters, 5 boats, and 16 aircraft. In addition, USN P-3 maritime patrol aircraft and 11 Navy ships assisted the Coast Guard. On 15 May, President Carter ordered an end to the sealift of Cuban refugees. On 8 September, four Navy ships and three patrol boats were ordered to assist the Coast Guard in a patrol to blockade Cuban refugee boats.

Vietnamese Refugees, South China Sea, July 1983

During one week in July (20-27), CG-31 Sterett rescued 262 Vietnamese refugees, DDG-994 Callagan 284, and P-3 patrol aircraft vectored merchant ships to 80 more.

South China Sea, Summer 1989

On 16 May 1989, DD-973 John Young rescued 46 Vietnamese refugees in the South China sea, 200 miles west of the Philippine island of Luzon. From June 1988 to this rescue, Pacific Fleet ships had rescued 354 refugees. On 26 June, CG-24 Reeves and DD-991 Fife rescued 92 refugees about 320 miles southwest of the Philippines. From 1983 to this rescue, Navy forces had assisted 1,380 refugees. In August 1989, CV-61 Ranger rescued 39 refugees amid heavy seas and monsoon rains about 60 miles from Cubi Point, Republic of the Philippines. On September 6, CG-52 Bunker Hill rescued 49 refugees about 200 miles northeast of Singapore; the next day the Vietnamese were transferred to TAE-26 Kilauea for transport to Singapore.

Atlantic, September 1989

On 6 September 1989, MSO-440 Exploit recovered five Cubans from a small homemade raft about 30 miles east of Miami.

South China Sea, May 1990

On 17 May 1990, FF-1053 Roark rescued 42 refugees from an unseaworthy craft. The Navy Salvage Ship ATS 2 Beaufort, based in Sasebo, Japan, rescued 24 Vietnamese refugees on 26 May 1990 in the South China Sea. The refugees had been attacked by Vietnamese pirates and were without provisions. Two days later, on 28 May, 77 refugees were rescued from another vessel that was determined to be unseaworthy.

South China Sea, July 1990

On 25 July 1990, AO-177 Cimarron rescued 25 refugees adrift at sea southwest of Subic Bay, Philippines.


Emergency Medical Assistance

Navy and Marine Corps units are sometimes called on to provide emergency medical assistance. Often this assistance involves transport from or to relatively remote locations. The following are a few examples of such emergency assistance.

New Zealand, April 1961

On 10 April 1961, a C-130BL Hercules of VX-6 landed at Christchurch, New Zealand, and completed the emergency evacuation from Byrd Station, Antarctica, of a Soviet exchange scientist who was suffering from an acute abdominal condition. The round trip flight out of Christchurch was the first to pierce the winter isolation of the Antarctic continent

Peru, March 1964

On 13 March 1964, two Marine helicopter crews of VMO-1 rescued 11 sick, injured, and wounded members of a road engineering party that had survived attacks by hostile Indians in the dense jungle of the Amazon basin near Iquitos, Peru. The helicopters were transferred ashore in the Canal Zone from USS Guadalcanal and were airlifted to Iquitos by a U.S. Air Force C-130.

Antarctic, January 1979

On 4 January 1979, a Navy ski-equipped LC-130 aircraft flew injured Russian survivors of a plane crash from their Antarctic Research Station to New Zealand. The Russian station is 1,800 miles from the American base at McMurdo Sound.

Seychelles, February 1989

A P-3 aircraft from Patrol Wing One was ordered to the Seychelles in February 1989 in response to a Soviet request for assistance. A Soviet scientist from the SRS AA Nesmeyanov was suffering from a severe case of the bends. The P-3 transported U.S. Navy diving and medical experts to the scene.


Nation-Building Activities

U.S. Navy and Marine Corps units often engage in what could be called "nation-building" or, perhaps, goodwill activities. These operations range from the provision of medical care to the use of Navy platforms to deliver aid to the nearly constant but little recorded instances of port visit civic action activities (such as repairing schools). This section includes just a few examples of these common activities.

Ethiopia, April-May 1961

A U.S. Navy preventive-medicine unit traveled throughout Ethiopia to assist the government in fighting a yellow-fever epidemic.

Iran, November 1963

DD-758 Strong, in company with the Iranian naval ship Babr, conducted a seven-day joint civic medical action mission along the southern coast of Iran. U.S. and Iranian doctors treated 2,335 patients at the ports of Chahbar, Jask, and Bandar Abbas.

Caribbean, October-December 1973

The USS Sanctuary (AH-17) conducted a 75-day "Navy Handclasp" cruise to Colombia and Haiti. During the cruise, Navy doctors treated thousands of Colombian and Haitian patients.

United Arab Emirates, February 1990

Sailors from DDG-45 Dewey worked ten days straight to renovate a school for handicapped children during a port visit to Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Romania, May-June 1990

AFS Concord carried 72 pallets of humanitarian assistance items bound for Romania to Rota under the auspices of Operation Handclasp. The humanitarian aid was offloaded at Rota and transported via Sixth Fleet assets to Romania.

Morocco, July 1990

During exercise African Hammer, 46 Seabees from NMCB 3 renovated the elementary school in Sidi Slimane, about 60 miles from Rabat. Repairs included constructing a septic system, installing lights and ceiling fans, and making structural repairs to the school. Earlier in the year, the same unit had rebuilt railroad lines in central Tunisia after flooding devastated the main railway system.



The following are a number of other examples of humanitarian activities by U.S. Naval forces around the world that do not fall neatly into one of the previous categories. Again, these are just indicative of Navy and Marine Corps humanitarian activities, and the list should not be taken as comprehensive in either the number or scope of actions.

Vietnam, January 1973

Task Force 78 was formed to conduct minesweeping operations in North Vietnamese waters under the code name Operation Endsweep. It consisted of surface minesweeping elements and Air Mobile Mine Countermeasures Command. The latter was made up of HM-12, HMH-463, and HMM-165. Ships of the force included USS New Orleans, USS Tripoli, and USS Inchon, Minesweeping operations continued through July 1973. Four aircraft carriers (Enterprise, Oriskany, Ranger, and Coral Sea) supported Endsweep.

Suez Canal, April 1974-October 1975

On 24 April 1974, U.S. Navy forces began minesweeping operations in the Suez Canal Zone. (The first U.S. planners for this operation had arrived in Cairo on 22 March.) On 23 July 1975, the Department of Defense announced the end of U.S. military participation in Suez Canal clearing operations. ARS-41 Opportune was the last ship of Task Force 65 to sail from the Suez area. In August-October 1975, the U.S. Navy assisted Egyptian efforts to clear the Damietta minefield in the Mediterranean north of the Suez Canal.

Honolulu, February 1976

On 6 February 1976, ATF-110 Quapaw and ARS-23 Deliver refloated SS Austin, a merchant tanker grounded near Sand Island off Honolulu that presented a pollution threat to the shoreline of Oahu.

Toulon, France, June 1989

On June 27 1989, two shore patrol officers from AD-44 Shenandoah rescued several local residents from a burning apartment building, including two elderly women and a blind man.

Eastern Pacific, February 1990

On 20 February 1990, sailors from FFG-46 Rentz freed a humpback whale entangled in fouled fishing nets off the Pacific Coast of Baja California, Mexico.



AAV Amphibious Assault Vehicle AD Destroyer Tender ADG Degaussing Ship AE Ammunition Ship AFS Combat Stores Ship AGB Icebreaker AH Hospital Ship AKA Attack Cargo Ship AOE Fast Combat Support Ship AOR Replenishment Fleet Tanker APD High-Speed Transport ARS Salvage Ship AS Submarine Tender ASR Submarine Rescue Vessel ASW Antisubmarine Warfare ATF Fleet Ocean Tug ATS Salvage and Rescue Ship ATU Amphibious Task Unit BLT Battalion Landing Team CA Heavy Cruiser CAG Heavy Guided-Missile Cruiser CG Guided-Missile Cruiser CGN Guided-Missile Cruiser (nuclear) CLG Light Guided-Missile Cruiser CSST Combat Service Support Team CVA Aircraft Carrier, Attack CVAN Nuclear-Powered Attack Aircraft Carrier CVL Small Aircraft Carrier CVS Antisubmarine Warfare Support Aircraft Carrier CVT Training Aircraft Carrier DD Destroyer DDG Guided-Missile Destroyer DDR Radar Picket Escort Ship DE Destroyer Escort DL Destroyer Leader (Frigate) DLG Guided-Missile Destroyer Leader (Frigate) FF Frigate FFG Guided-Missile Frigate HC Helicopter Combat Support Squadron HM Helicopter Mine-Countermeasures Squadron HMH Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron HMM Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron HMR Marine Helicopter Squadron HS Helicopter Antisubmarine Warfare Squadron HT Helicopter Training Squadron HTU Helicopter Training Unit LHA Amphibious Assault Ship LPD Amphibious Transport Dock


LPH Amphibious Assault Ship (helicopter) LSD Dock Landing Ship LST Tank Landing Ship MAG Marine Air Group MAW Marine Air Wing MEF Middle East Force MSC Military Sealift Command MSO Minesweeper, Ocean NAS Naval Air Station NMCB Naval Mobile Construction Battalion NS Naval Station SAR Sea-Air Rescue SS Submarine SSBN Nuclear-Powered Ballistic Missile Submarine SSN Nuclear-Powered Attack Submarine TAE Ammunition Ship (MSC) TAO Fleet Oiler (MSC) TAOT Transport Oiler (MSC) TAP Transport (MSC) USNS United States Naval Ship VC Fleet Composite Squadron VMO Marine Observation Squadron VMR Marine Transport Squadron VP Patrol Squadron VR Fleet Tactical Support Squadron or Air Transport Squadron VX Air Development Squadron.



CHINFO (Navy Chief of Information) Navy News Service weekly messages, 1989-1990.

Cooney, David M., LCdr, USN. A Chronology of the U.S. Navy. New York: Franklin Watts Inc., 1965.

Gilmore, Barbara A.. Chronology of U.S. Naval Events. Washington, D.C.: Operational Archives, Naval Historical Center, Building 57, Washington Navy Yard, Washington, D.C., 1974-1980.

United States Naval Aviation, 1910-1980. NAVAIR 00-80P-1, prepared at the direction of the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (Air Warfare) and the Commander, Naval Air Systems Command, 1981.

U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, Annual Chronology of Naval Events in the May "Naval Review" issues for 1962-1990.


Publication Notes


Copyright CNA Corporation/Scanned October 2003

Work conducted under contract N00014-91-C-0002.

This Information Memorandum represents the best opinion of CNA at the time of issue. It does not necessarily represent the opinion of the Department of the Navy.


Published: Mon Oct 30 16:54:28 EDT 2017