USS John S. McCain (DDG 56), an Arleigh Burke class AEGIS destroyer, sails the seas.
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Sailors aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) received the Coast Guard Meritorious Team Commendation Oct. 27 for the ship’s efforts in responding to a downed Air Force B-52 bomber off the coast of Apra Harbor, Guam.
From July 21-23, McCain Sailors coordinated with a multi-agency search-and-rescue (SAR) group composed of Coast Guard cutters Assateague and Kukui; Guam civil services; Navy Helicopter Combat Support Squadron 25; a Kadena, Japan-based Navy P-3 squadron and several Air Force F-15 aircraft. Collectively known as SAR Group Guam, the team operation transcended civil and military service lines.
McCain was in Guam for a scheduled port visit and had left the island only hours prior to responding to the calls for a downed aircraft. The ship steamed at flank speed and within an hour, McCain was at the crash site. The ship expanded its search coverage with use of a rigid hull inflatable boat (RHIB), while the flight crew conducted refueling operations for SH-60 rescue helicopters. From the RHIB to the rescue helicopter, McCain Sailors transported three aircrew members and solemnly rendered honors for the deceased.
McCain’s crew worked with the other services around the clock, employing all the sensors for the exhaustive the search.
“SAR Group Guam’s exhaustive three-day search absolutely saturated the search area and located various debris fields which provided invaluable information to an Air Force investigation team,” said Coast Guard Capt. Thomas Sparks, commander, U.S. Coast Guard Sector Guam. “Additionally, the professionalism and dedication of SAR Group Guam during this tragic mishap provided solace and closure to the families and friends of the missing airmen.”
USS John S. McCain, commanded by Cmdr. John S. Banigan, is one of seven Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers assigned to Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 15 and is permanently forward-deployed to Yokosuka, Japan.