North Dakota Team,
You may have heard in the news that we had a very unfortunate event onboard USS NORTH DAKOTA this last week. One of our young petty officers attempted to take his own life. He was issued an M16 rifle as part of the watch he was standing, which he used to shoot himself in the chest.
NORTH DAKOTA responded in heroic fashion. My corpsman (equivalent of a physicians assistant) led a team that treated his injuries and stabilized him as well as possible. My radioman kept communication through bad weather and were able to get trauma doctors who could send chat messages and lend assistance. My navigation and ship driving team found the fastest way back to port, and then traversed heavy seas at high speeds. We brought the boat in to the mouth of the Thames River in New London and transferred the sailor to a tug which rushed him to a pier where an ambulance got the sailor to the hospital. From gunshot to ambulance took about 7 hours. We drove up the river in dense fog, in the dark of night, with intense wind and rain. It was the worst weather I’ve ever seen for something like this.
Every single member of the crew was amazing. NORTH DAKOTA Sailors dissembled parts of the ship to set up ways to get the sailor off in a stretcher more comfortably. When the sailor was lucid, other crew members held a phone in front of his face to let him watch music videos. A small team of sailors set up for a very complex helicopter transfer, just in case that became an option. Several NORTH DAKOTA Sailors lashed themselves to the deck of the boat at hours near midnight in “Pea Soup” fog to brace against the weather and make a human safety net for paramedics who helped with our transfer. Others braved the storm to flash lights and help the tug boat find us.
I can’t truly express the amount of heroism I saw in the last 48 hours. As a result the Sailor is recovering from surgery in a hospital in New Haven with his parents by his side.
It was a terrible event, but the sailors of NORTH DAKOTA are heroes.
CDR Mark Robinson
USS NOTTH DAKOTA
Here is a link to the article in the New London Day: