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Mission underway to bring sick baby aboard Navy ship at sea

[Updated 9 a.m. PDT: A sick 1-year-old baby aboard a crippled sailboat hundreds of miles at sea off the Mexican coast was transferred to a Navy ship early Sunday, officials said.

The frigate Vandegrift arrived on scene around midnight but the transfer of the child was delayed until daylight Sunday morning for safety reasons.]

The Vandegrift has two Navy corpsmen aboard, officials said. Also, four rescue specialists from the California Air National Guard's 129th Rescue Wing had been with the child aboard the family's sailboat since late Thursday.

Trained in emergency medical techniques, the para-rescuemen were able to stabilize the baby girl, who had been experiencing a high fever and severe rash, officials said.

The rescue began Thursday when the San Diego family aboard the 36-foot sailing boat Rebel Heart sent a distress message via satellite phone to the Coast Guard that the child was sick. The sailboat was an estimated 1,000 miles off Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

By late Thursday, the four para-rescuemen had plunged into the water from a fixed-wing aircraft and were on the sailboat, said 2nd Lt. Roderick B. Bersamina, spokesman for the 129th Rescue Wing based at Moffett Federal Airfield in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The child was treated with medication, officials said.

The family was on a worldwide trip when the child got sick and the sailboat lost its communication and navigation capability.

Also aboard the boat are the girl's parents, Eric and Charlotte Kaufman, and their 3-year-old daughter, Cora. They had been at sea about two weeks when the younger child, Lyra, became sick.

The Vandegrift was on a routine mission at sea when redirected to assist in the rescue. It is expected back in San Diego by midweek, officials said.

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Twitter: @LATsandiego

tony.perry@latimes.com

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