Camp Boat Crew Rescues Local Hotel Employees

A Camp Lemonnier boat crew patrolling the Djiboutian port provided rescue assistance to two Kempinski Hotel employees when the sea turned dangerous in the early evening of August 29, 2010.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Oliver and his crew out of Maritime Expeditionary Security Squadron One, Detachment Bravo, were patrolling the harbor, securing U.S. Navy assets when he noticed two females on a stalled JetSki approaching the defense area.

"I had seen them go out earlier that day joyriding with their friend," Petty Officer 2nd Class Oliver said. "Then the storm blew in. The driver of the JetSki was in panic mode trying to start the JetSki. The wind was blowing in a north-east direction, pushing the JetSki further."

Petty Officer 2nd Class Oliver called his lead for permission to assist.

"My lead gave me permission to move in," he said. "My crew set for rescue operations and we threw a lifeline to them."

A lifeline is a yellow rope with one end secured on the boat and the other with a bag. The women wrapped the bag-end of the rope to the handle bars of the JetSki.

"The waves were kicking up hard: we were dangerously into the (four-to-six foot) swells," Petty Officer 2nd Class Oliver recalls. "We pulled them into us and pulled the two females onboard and secured the JetSki as quickly as possible. We brought them into the pilot house and asked them if they needed medical attention."

The women informed the crew they worked as part of the staff at the Kempinski Hotel.

Once the crew brought the women to shore, they were interviewed by Djiboutian authorities and released back to Oliver's crew, who brought them to the commercial pier where their friend was searching for them.

This sort of event is not common for the 56 personnel assigned to MSRON 1, Det. Bravo, Oliver said.

According to Lieutenant Commander Jim Lawson, the detachment's assistant officer in charge, the squadron's mission is to provide "seaward antiterrorism and force protection measures for U.S. Navy high-value assets."

Boat crews run into people who are in distress, such as kayakers who have lost oars or tubers who fell asleep and got too far from shore, Oliver said, "but never somebody actually in danger."

The crews, however, train for such events.

"I was very proud of my crew," Oliver said. "My crew performed their training in a real world (situation). (I have) individuals who have never been on a small boat and know nothing of the dangers of the water. To see them perform impeccably -- I couldn't have asked for a better situation for them to prove themselves."


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