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U.S. Sends Amphib to Assist in South Korean Ferry Disaster

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MV-22 on the deck of USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6) on April 16, 2014. US Navy Photo

MV-22 on the deck of USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6) on April 16, 2014. US Navy Photo

The U.S. Navy is sending the amphibious warship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6) to support the efforts of Republic of Korea (RoK) following the sinking of the passenger ship Sewol, U.S. Navy officials told USNI News on Wednesday.

The passenger ship was carrying 462 people when it sank in route to the tourist island of Jeju — just to the south of the Korean peninsula. Four are confirmed dead and more than 280 passengers are still missing, according to a report from the Associated Press.

The ship went down a few miles from Byeongpung Island and rescuers responded almost immediately. More than 80 ships and almost 20 aircraft were part of the response, according to several press reports.


View Sewol Sinking in a larger map

“Three hours from its destination, the ferry sent a distress call at about 9 a.m. Wednesday after it began listing to one side, according to the Ministry of Security and Public Administration. Officials didn’t know what caused it to sink and said the focus was still on rescuing survivors,” read the AP report.

It’s unclear how much assistance Bonhomme Richard will be able to provide to the rescue effort.

“When we were alerted to the accident, we immediately diverted to the scene to render assistance,” Capt. Heidi C. Agle, commodore of U.S. Amphibious Squadron 11 said in a Wednesday statement from the service.
“However, the efficiency of the Korean response eclipsed the immediate need for our assets. We are standing by to provide support as requested by the on-scene commander.”

Bonhomme Richard is embarked with a compliment of Marine MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor, Navy MH-60 helicopters and a variety of small boats.

 

  • gray_eagle

    Like other ships that have gone turtle-up in the past, there will be few, if any, survivors. The ship should be stabilized and holes cut into the bottom, quikly, to rescue anyone that might be alive in a reachable air pocket. The captain has a lot to answer to. Why weren’t the life boats filled and lowered? Why weren’t life vests handed out to everyone and then ordered to jump and swim free of the ship? Rescue was imminent and they could fight off hypothermia for at least an hour. Why didn’t the captain stay with the ship?

  • ytuque

    I’ve seen nothing on the news about American military involvement in the rescue. So did the Navy help or did the Korean military shut them out?

  • Demian Dunkley

    I’m hearing from news sources in Japan, that both USA and Japan offered assistance but Korea chose to handle it by themselves. According to this article it seems like the Korean assets were totally capable of the rescue, but Japan and USA rescue capabilities are world class. I wonder if they would get better results by working together.