ROGERS CITY, MI – A helicopter crew from the U.S. Coast Guard's Air Station Traverse City flew a search and rescue mission Saturday night after receiving word there was a boat in distress in Lake Huron, with four people on board.

Winds were clocking in at 35 mph and waves were reaching about 15 feet when the crew aboard the MH-60T Jayhawk helicopter located the boat near Rogers City, about 40 miles north of Alpena. They reached the vessel amid thunderstorms, about two hours after the initial distress call.

“After deploying our rescue swimmer and nearly an hour of hovering over the vessel, we successfully hoisted 4 individuals and transported them to Cheybogan, MI for transfer to ambulatory services. We are always “Semper Paratus” here at the Air Station, but please be safe out on the water!,” the Coast Guard said today in a description of the incident posted to Facebook.

A video of the rescue released by the Coast Guard shows how tricky the operation was, with high waves rocking the boat. A rescue swimmer dropped down into the back of the boat, where that person helped all four people aboard get into a rescue basket so they could be pulled up into the helicopter, one by one.

At one point, a crew member aboard the chopper can be heard warning the rescue swimmer about the rough water: “You got a couple heavier waves coming your way,” the crew member said, advising the rescue swimmer and those still on board to hold onto something to keep their balance.

A Coast Guard video of the rescue can be seen here.

Air Station Traverse City has had a small fleet of the Jayhawks since the summer of 2017. They replaced the earlier group of MH-65 Dolphins the crew had been flying.

The local Coast Guard crews were excited about the change in aircraft. The MH-60T Jayhawk is an all-weather helicopter, similar to the Navy MH-60S Seahawk and the Army UH-60 Blackhawk.

The Jayhawks can fly twice as long as the older models before needing to refuel – a great capability to have when search-and-rescue efforts over the Great Lakes can last for hours.

The Jayhawks are bigger, too. The Coast Guard can evacuate up to 15 people at a time if needed, which wasn't possible with the Dolphins.

They also handle Michigan's cold weather better than the Dolphins, the military said. The Jayhawks come equipped with engine anti-ice and de-icing systems.


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