U.S. Navy again rescues Iranian sailors in Arabian waters
Persian Gulf (BNO NEWS) — The U.S. Navy on Tuesday rescued six Iranian sailors from a sinking cargo ship in the North Persian Gulf, U.S. officials said on Wednesday. It is the second time in less than a week that U.S. forces rescued Iranian sailors.
The incident happened at around 3 a.m. local time on Tuesday when the Island-Class Patrol Boat USCGC Monomoy was hailed by flares and flashlights from the Iranian cargo vessel ‘Ya-Hussayn’. The vessel was carrying a total of six Iranian sailors.
According to the U.S. Navy, the dhow’s master requested assistance from Monomoy because the vessel’s engine room was flooding and the ship believed to be sinking. Monomoy immediately launched their small boat and approached the Ya-Hussayn, where two people were rescued from the vessel and four others from a life raft which was tied off to the dhow’s stern.
One of the Iranian crew members had sustained minor injuries and was treated by an emergency medical technician from Monomoy, officials said. “Saving lives is the last thing you expect to do at 0300 while patrolling in the Northern Persian Gulf, but being in the Coast Guard, that’s what we are trained to do,” said Boatswain Mate 2nd Class Emily Poole, Monomoy’s medic.
The U.S. Navy said the six Iranians were provided with water, blankets and halal meals which are in accordance with Islamic law. “[Halal meals] are stored aboard U.S. Coast Guard ships to provide to Muslim mariners in distress,” the U.S. Navy said in a statement.
After the rescue, a civilian interpreter aboard Monomoy provided the initial contact with the Iranian Rescue Coordination Center to report the status of the Ya-Hussayn and coordinate the transfer of the Iranian mariners from Monomoy to shore.
The master of the Iranian vessel, who also spoke with the Rescue Coordination Center, was said to be appreciative for the assistance to his crew and grateful for the efforts to get them home. “Without your help, we were dead,” said Hakim Hamid-Awi, the owner of the Ya-Hassan. “Thank you for all that you did for us.”
On late Tuesday afternoon, about 13.5 hours after the rescue, the Iranian sailors were transferred by rigid hull inflatable boats from Monomoy to the Iranian Coast Guard vessel Naji 7. The U.S. Navy said the captain of the Iranian Coast Guard vessel thanked the U.S. ship for assisting and taking care of the Iranian sailors.
It was the second time in less than a week that a U.S. ship rescued Iranian sailors. Last Thursday, U.S. Navy vessel SH-60S Seahawk from guided-missile destroyer USS Kidd (DDG 100) detected a suspected pirate skiff alongside the Iranian-flagged fishing dhow Al Molai in the northern Arabian Sea while simultaneously receiving a distress call from the vessel’s master.
A visit, board, search and seizure team from Kidd boarded the Al Molai and detained 15 suspected pirates who had been holding a 13-member Iranian crew hostage for several weeks. It had been pirated and used as a “mother ship” for pirate operations throughout the Persian Gulf. The pirates did not resist the boarding and surrendered quickly, the U.S. Navy said.
The news of the U.S. rescue received a mixed response in Iran. Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast downplayed the rescue as merely a humanitarian measure which all countries would take while some Iranian media suggested the rescue was staged and resembled a scene which could have been from a Hollywood movie.