Crew members aboard the navy warship USS Rentz recently traded in their anti-organized crime hats to become wildlife protectors for a few hours and rescue a group of helpless sea turtles caught in a tangle of netting.
While patroling off the coast of Guatemala, the ship’s helicopter detachment was conducting a routine flight when Lt. Chris Gokey and his co-pilot, Chief Warrant Officer Rob Antonucci, spotted a debris field near a group of fishing buoys tethered together.
“As a maritime force operating above, below and on the ocean’s surface, one of the major challenges we encounter is being able to train and operate while sharing the ocean with the myriad of marine mammals and amphibians that inhabit these waters,” said Cmdr. Lance Lantier, commanding officer of USS Rentz.
The co-pilots relayed their position back to the team on the ship’s bridge, which plotted the position and closed in on the target.
The crew aboard a small boat dispatched to investigate discovered three trapped deep ocean sea turtles tangled in the line of the fishing buoys.
“I knew they were still alive once I saw their little fins moving in the water,” said Lt. Michelle Webster, the boat’s officer, who carefully cut loose the captives.
“In today’s environment, it is expected that the United States Navy act as a good steward of the fragile ecosystems in which we operate,” said Lantier. “Opportunities to save and help our oceanic friends are some of the easier decisions I can make as a commander onboard a U.S. Navy warship.”