STRAIT OF MALACCA, At Sea - Sailors from the John C. Stennis Strike Group rescued a Malaysian man, Oct. 6, in the South China Sea while transiting through the Strait of Singapore.
The man was spotted by sailors aboard Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) who immediately informed the ship’s bridge. At 9:08 a.m. the alarm for “man overboard” was sounded throughout the ship and within minutes a rescue team from the “Eightballers” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 8, launched a MH-60S Knighthawk helicopter from Stennis’ flight deck to pull the man out of the water.
Among the first to spot the man overboard was Seaman Abel Cardona, a native of San Sebastian, Puerto Rico, who was standing a lookout watch on the aircraft carrier’s fantail.
“I saw something moving between the waves,” said Cardona. “Then I saw a man in the water waving his hands screaming ‘help, help, help!’”
Cardona immediately threw a life ring into the water and then called the navigation bridge and reported the man overboard.
Naval Air Crewman 3rd Class Taylor Child, the Search and Rescue swimmer aboard the helicopter, pulled the drowning man to safety at approximately 9:54 a.m.
“The whole thing was very surreal,” said Child. “I never saw the man until I was lowered down in the water near him. After we lifted him aboard, our crew chief assessed the man for injuries. He basically said he was from Indonesia and he was very thirsty, so we gave him some water and flew him to safety.”
The man was airlifted to the nearby dry cargo and ammunition ship USNS Carl M. Brashear (T-AKE 7) where he was provided medical treatment prior to being transferred to the Singaporean Coast Guard.
Stennis is currently deployed in U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility with Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 21 and the guided-missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay (CG 53).