VIDEO: horrific moment liferaft overturns, sending 19 into water

Video has emerged of a horrific incident aboard the US Navy’s hospital ship USNS Comfort that led to 19 people being dropped from height into the water and injuries to two sailors.

A statement from the navy says: “nineteen personnel fell overboard during transfer from a small boat to the USNS Comfort,” and that “all personnel were safely recovered and returned to the USNS Comfort” with the help of a nearby coast guard ship.

Cmdr. J. Myers Vasquez told Military.com that the service is aware of the footage.

“We have initiated an investigation that will examine the facts and evaluate our processes with the goal of improving operations at sea and ensuring the safety of the force,” says Vasquez.

Dr. Salvatore Mercogliano, a maritime historian at Campbell University says one major issue which jumped out to him was the choice to bring people aboard the Comfort using a crane.

“That crane is probably not rated to be hoisting an extra two tons of people on top of a boat load on board,” says Mercogliano.

“People were moving around that boat. … You had a dynamic load in the boat, the boat was shifting,” he says. “It’s just not what you would do.

“When you do a boat operation like that, you would hoist boats on and off with minimum crew onboard — maybe one or two people.”

Mercogliano says the ship has a port on its side, close to the waterline, that is typically used to bring people aboard but that using the door is “a long, laborious process.

“They would lower these platforms down and secure them to the side of the ship so that you’re not docking right alongside the ship,” he says.

According to Military.com, Navy officials said heavy surf and swells led to the choice not to use the side door, but the video shows no evidence of rough seas. At the time of the incident, the Comfort was at Wharf de Jeremie in Haiti as part of an operation to provide medical care to people in the Caribbean.

Main image courtesy of Military Spot.

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