Navy SEALs to the rescue


There was a tragic accident on the Delaware River in Philadelphia yesterday, when a “duck boat” tour lost power on the water, and ten minutes later a barge collided with the tourist boat, capsizing and sinking it. Two people are presumed drowned.

The positive news for the 35 people who survived is that, by coincidence, a group of U.S. Navy Special Operations personnel happened to be nearby:

Sailors from Virginia Beach-based Special Boat Team 20 helped rescue nine people Wednesday from an overturned tourist boat in the Delaware River.

According to Philadelphia police, one of the popular “duck boat” vessels was struck by a barge and capsized, throwing 35 passengers and two crewmembers in the water.

Twelve Special Warfare Boat Operators who happened to be nearby at Penn’s Landing immediately responded to a radio distress call and sped to the scene in small boats to recover people in the river.

“We were the first responders,” said 25-year-old Garrett Rodriguez, a Special Boat Operator 1st Class from Maui, HI. “Some of us jumped out and started grabbing people. They were just exhausted, in shock.”

One can only speculate on the litigation that will result from the accident and the loss of life of two young tourists from Hungary. It could have been worse had it not been for the proximity of U.S. Navy personnel who are particularly adept at quickly dealing with complex and urgent situations, and of course the Coast Guard and Philadelphia Police arrived shortly after the Navy and were central to the rescue effort. I certainly hope that nobody (cough, ACLU, cough) questions the legality or legitimacy of SEALs responding to a civilian emergency in U.S. waters — it is not as if the team was acting in a law enforcement capacity, so it is difficult to see how Posse Comitatus would apply.

Having SEALs nearby when you happen run into trouble on the water is definitely a “Thank you, God,” moment.

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