Coast Guard Makes Challenging Airlift From Holland America Ship

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A 65-year-old male guest was successfully evacuated from Holland America Line’s Koningsdam on Thursday, April 25 as the ship was sailing approximately 175 nautical miles (201 miles / 324 kilometers) west of Tillamook, Oregon, while the ship was en route to Victoria, British Columbia. The guest had been injured several days earlier and required greater continuing medical care than was available on the ship.

Other passengers onboard Koningsdam reported that there had been announcements made seeking blood donors, though the nature of the guest’s injury was not disclosed.

The US Coast Guard 13th District Pacific Northwest sector responded to the call for an evacuation and dispatched an aircrew from Astoria, including two members from the Life Flight Network, to meet the ship and airlift the guest while an aircrew from Sacramento provided support.

The challenging operation was carried out safely, and the guest was transported to Oregon Health & Science University Hospital in Portland. Details on the guest’s condition have not been released in order to safeguard his privacy and that of his family members and traveling party.

Holland America Coast Guard Airlift
Holland America Coast Guard Airlift (Credit: US Coast Guard)

Outstanding video footage of the incident was captured by the rescue and evacuation team, giving a firsthand perspective of what these operations entail and how difficult maneuvering safely can be. At all times, however, the patient’s safety and that of the team remain a top priority.

“We were onboard and witnessed the professionalism and precision as both the Crew and Coast Guard coordinated this operation,” passenger Cindy Gilbert posted with another brief video of the incident.

Koningsdam was nearing the end of her 22-night sailing that departed from San Diego on Friday, April 5. The ship visited Cabo San Lucas and Mazatlan in Mexico before heading to Hawaii for several days, then turning north toward Canada. The call to Victoria on Friday, April 26 is the last on the current itinerary, and the ship will arrive in Vancouver as scheduled on Saturday, April 27.

This particular sailing was one of Holland America Line’s special eclipse cruises, with the ship positioned for optimal viewing of the total solar eclipse on April 8.

Despite the slight diversion for the medical evacuation, the ship did turn toward the coast to meet the USCG team as quickly as possible, and there was no delay in reaching Victoria. The ship’s arrival in Vancouver is also unaffected.

This sailing is Koningsdam‘s repositioning voyage to put the ship in position for the Alaska sailing season. The 99,863-gross-ton ship will remain homeported from Vancouver through September, offering 7-night Inside Passage cruises with visits to Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan, Glacier Bay, and other top Last Frontier destinations. The Pinnacle-class ship can welcome 2,650 guests aboard for each sailing.

Amazing At-Sea Rescues

Several notable at-sea rescues have been carried out in recent months, showcasing the dedication and skill of USCG rescue teams.

Just 10 days ago, a 35-year-old pregnant woman was successfully evacuated from Disney Cruise Line’s Disney Fantasy 180 miles northwest of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, another long-distance rescue that really demonstrates the range of USCG capabilities.

US Coast Guard Evacuation from Disney Ship
US Coast Guard Evacuation from Disney Ship

In May 2023, a hazardous rescue was safely accomplished when a 76-year-old man was airlifted from Carnival Dream on rough seas. Conditions for that incident were so treacherous that the aircrew had to abort the first rescue attempt and another crew returned when the weather eased.

While no cruise traveler expects a medical emergency during their oceangoing vacation, those that do find themselves in dire circumstances can rely on the expertise and dedication of cruise ship medical personnel and USCG rescue teams to ensure that safe evacuations are possible when necessary.

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