NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – The Norfolk-based guided missile destroyer USS Porter rescued four scuba divers separated from a pleasure craft and who had been reported missing for nearly 14 hours off the North Carolina coast.

The Porter responded to a request from a Coast Guard HC-130 aircraft to help in the rescue effort 40 nautical miles southeast of Wilmington, N.C. around 1 a.m. Monday. Porter sailors safely rescued the scuba divers from a life raft launched from the HC-130 and took them to the ship using a rigid hull inflatable boat, captured on video by the Coast Guard.

While on the ship, all four divers got a basic medical evaluation and a meal, and at around 3:30 a.m., they were moved to a Coast Guard small boat to be taken ashore and reunited with their families at Coast Guard Station Oak Island.

“I couldn’t be more proud of the crew of this ship,” said Cmdr. Joseph Hamilton, commanding officer of Porter. “It is truly impressive to watch a group of young men and women come together as a team to support our fellow citizens in distress at sea, while also maintaining focus on the important mission that we are supporting in Large Scale Exercise ‘23. It’s just one incredible example of their commitment to the mission and our motto, ‘Freedom’s Champion.’”

Sailors assigned to Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) pose with Ben Wiggins, Daniel Williams, Evan Williams, and Luke Lodge (left to right) after rescuing the divers at sea off the coast of Wilmington, N.C. Porter’s assistance in rescuing the divers is an example of the U.S. Navy’s unique multi-role mission to ensuring safety at sea. Porter is participating in Large-Scale Exercise 2023 (LSE 2023). LSE 2023 demonstrates the Navy’s and Marine Corps’ ability to employ precise, lethal, and overwhelming force globally across six maritime component commands, seven numbered fleets, and 22 time zones. (Photo – U.S. Navy)

The Porter is operating in the area supporting Large Scale Exercise 23, under Carrier Strike Group 4, leading live events within and off the coast of Virginia and North Carolina. The Navy said the exercise is “a live, virtual and constructive, globally-integrated exercise designed to refine how the Navy and Marine Corps team synchronizes maritime operations across multiple fleets.

“As professional mariners, U.S. Navy Sailors have a responsibility to aid people who need assistance at sea,” said Vice Adm. Daniel Dwyer, commander, U.S. 2nd Fleet. “The fact that Porter was able to conduct this rescue while actively participating in one of the biggest global naval exercises of the year is a testament to the crew’s flexibility and readiness to operate across a spectrum of operational tasks they may be called to do in the future. They are capable of saving those in need while defending the homeland…they are ready to fight tonight.”