On board the guided-missile destroyer Daniel Inouye, US Navy Ensign Gabriella St. Angelo uses a laser rangefinder to measure the distance to the fishing vessel Sea Diamond, Oct. 18, 2022, off Hawaii. US Navy photo by Lt. John Gossett.
When the US Coast Guard asked all vessels to aid a fishing boat drifting off Hawaii, one of the most powerful warships in the world answered the call.
"It is our duty to provide help to our fellow mariners whenever and wherever they need it, and Inouye's crew responded admirably and professionally to make sure we could return the Sea Diamond and her crew to safe harbor,” said US Navy Cmdr. Dave Haile, the commanding officer of the guided-missile destroyer Daniel Inouye, in a prepared statement released shortly after the Oct. 18 rescue.
Sea Diamond, a US-flagged, 71-foot commercial fishing boat, was sailing to Honolulu when its propeller shaft broke. A mayday message to Coast Guard watchstanders triggered a Marine Assistance Request Broadcast, urging any vessels at sea to reach the trawler.
With a week’s worth of food and water in the galley, Sea Diamond’s crew could've held out for help, but they didn’t have to wait. The Arleigh Burke-class Inouye rendezvoused with the helpless vessel in roughly two hours.
The US Navy's guided-missile destroyer Daniel Inouye tows the commercial fishing vessel Sea Diamond, Oct. 18, 2022, off Hawaii. US Navy photo by Lt. Braden Nelligan.
“With the Pacific being as big as it is and the challenges that come with big open water, we kind of work together with our DOD partners quite frequently to accomplish missions like this,” US Coast Guard Public Affairs Specialist 2nd Class Ryan Fisher told Coffee or Die Magazine.
A team of sailors in a rigid-hulled inflatable boat boarded Sea Diamond to investigate why it couldn’t make way. Once they realized the vessel had lost a vital external shaft, they returned to the destroyer.
Commanders decided to tow the boat to shore. For the next dozen hours, Inouye pulled Sea Diamond at roughly 6 knots. Five nautical miles outside Honolulu Harbor, Inouye’s crew turned the fishing boat over to a commercial tug, which brought Sea Diamond to Oahu’s famous Pier 38.
That’s about a 10-minute drive east of Iouye’s berth at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.
But Inouye’s crew had no intention of returning to their homeport. They continued their “Trip Around the Islands” program, a goodwill cruise designed to strengthen the Navy’s ties to the state’s citizens.
Noelle is a former staff writer for Coffee or Die through a fellowship from Military Veterans in Journalism. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and interned with the US Army Cadet Command. Noelle also worked as a civilian journalist covering several units, including the 75th Ranger Regiment on Fort Benning, before she joined the military as a public affairs specialist.
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