GULF OF ADEN – A U.S. Naval ship assigned to U.S. 5th Fleet provided emergency assistance to a motor vessel in distress in the Gulf of Aden, June 7.
The Military Sealift Command fleet replenishment oiler USNS Patuxent (T-AO 201) was notified by the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations watch center that motor vessel Falcon Line had experienced engine failure and was taking on water.
Upon notification of the situation, Patuxent proceeded at maximum speed to rescue the crew of Falcon Line before the ship completely sank.
After arriving on scene, Patuxent shielded the Falcon Line crew from heavy winds and high seas so the crew could board lifeboats.
Patuxent safely recovered the 15 crew members and provided them with food, water and a medical screening. U.S. 5th Fleet is coordinating with the owner of Falcon Line and other authorities to determine the most appropriate location to debark the crew members.
The U.S. 5th Fleet regularly works with coalition forces, regional partners and the shipping industry to maintain the regional awareness necessary to facilitate aid like this to mariners in distress.
“As professional mariners, our forces have a duty to help those in need at sea,” said Navy Capt. Michael O’Driscoll, commander of Task Force (TF) 53. “The sailors and civilian mariners aboard ships like Patuxent have answered this call before, and they will continue to do so whenever possible.”
The 1974 International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) outlines the obligation of all mariners to provide assistance to those in distress at sea.
The U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations encompasses about 2.5 million square miles of water area and includes the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Red Sea and parts of the Indian Ocean. The expanse is comprised of 20 countries and includes three critical choke points at the Strait of Hormuz, the Suez Canal and the Strait of Bab al Mandeb at the southern tip of Yemen.