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USS Deyo Responds to Distress Call

By Lt. Cmdr Cappy Surette, USS Harry S. Truman Public Affairs

May 30, 2001, USS DEYO, At Sea (NNS) - The Norfolk-based destroyer USS Deyo (DD 989) responded recently to a distress call from MV Caroline, a 40-foot German sailboat 480 miles southwest of the Azores.

Deyo was returning to its homeport of Norfolk, Va., along with the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) Battle Group when it received the distress call over the bridge-to-bridge radio.

The boat had lost its mast during heavy weather in the Atlantic Ocean and was low on fuel.

Lieutenant Gene Bailey, Deyo's operations officer, heard the mayday and passed the call to the ship's commanding officer, Cmdr. Stephen Hampton, who ordered his ship to conduct a search for the vessel.

"Once within hailing distance, we sorted out what Caroline needed and ensured the crew was safe," said Hampton. "Seaworthiness and fuel were the big issues -- they would not have made landfall without the extra fuel my guys provided. Helping mariners on the high seas is part of what we do, and Deyo's team was happy to help these gents out of a tough spot."

Another Norfolk-based destroyer, USS Stump (DD 978), launched its helicopter to monitor the situation from the air as Deyo's crew moved in to render assistance.

"The whole destroyer squadron team helped out," said Hampton.

Lieutenant Commander Rob O'Neil, Deyo's executive officer, led a boarding team to inspect the sailing vessel to determine if it was seaworthy and determine if it was capable of completing its journey across the Atlantic.

"Although the mast and sails were gone, the vessel was in excellent condition and was handling the eight to 10-foot seas well," said O'Neil.

Lieutenant j.g. Jim Reeves, Deyo's Electronics Material Officer, provided the boat with a new VHF whip antenna while Boatswain's Mate(BM) 2nd Class(SW) Tyrone Smith and BMCS(SW) Tony Difolco and shuttled five gallon cans of diesel fuel from Deyo to the sailing vessel. "It was a great Team Deyo effort!" said O'Neil.

There were a total of four German sailors on the vessel, two owners and two passengers. The vessel Caroline departed Bermuda 10 days earlier, bound for the Azores. All four personnel were healthy, however the two passengers asked if they could come aboard Deyo. The two owners were very tired from saving the boat the night before, but, would not give up their vessel and continued on their voyage after Deyo provided them with fuel and the new antenna.

"The less experienced passengers were embarked on Deyo - they had enough sailing," said O'Neil. "After a hot shower, some fresh clothes, and a spaghetti and pizza dinner, our guests are comfortably resting and looking forward to arriving in Newport, R.I., with us and catching a flight home to Germany."

"We were fortunate to be in the right place at the right time to be able to lend a helping hand," said Rear Adm. Jim McArthur, commander of the Harry S. Truman Battle Group. "It is our responsibility as mariners to assist those in distress on the high seas, and it is satisfying to be able to extend a helping hand and make a difference."

Deyo deployed as part of the USS Harry S. Truman Battle Group and returned to its homeport of Norfolk, Va., May 24.

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