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 international waters of the Gulf of Aden, June 16.
The Military Sealift Command fleet replenishment oiler USNS Patuxent (T-AO 201) identified a vessel flying the international distress flag and proceeded toward them to render assistance.
The small vessel reported that it had been drifting for 12 days and was taking on water.
Patuxent safely recovered the four crew members and provided them with food, water and a medical screening.
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.
“This is the second time in under two weeks the Patuxent crew has answered the call to assist fellow mariners in distress,” said Navy Capt. Michael O’Driscoll, commander of Task Force (TF) 53. “I am extremely proud of them and I think this perfectly highlights the value of sustained maritime presence alongside our regional and coalition partners.”
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.