MANAMA, Bahrain (March 28, 2010) — Sailors aboard a U.S. Navy destroyer returned 30 Somalians to their homes Saturday after they were found adrift aboard a malfunctioning skiff and stranded in the Gulf of Aden.
USS McFaul (DDG 74), an Arleigh Burke class destroyer on a seven-month deployment in the Gulf of Aden, was conducting a routine patrol in support of maritime security operations to combat piracy on March 25, when sailors spotted the small skiff about 100 miles north of the Somalian coast.
The 30 men, women and children aboard had been stranded with no food and very little water for nearly four days since departing Somalia. Both the skiff's motors had malfunctioned, and the stranded passengers' safety became a top priority for the McFaul sailors.
"Once we recognized there was no threat, noticeable engine failure and lack of food and water, it was evident they desperately needed our help," said Lt(jg) Lamping, Visit Board Search and Seizure (VBSS) team boarding officer. The McFaul's embarked translator helped sailors communicate with the stranded Somalians.
To ensure their safety, sailors immediately took the Somalians aboard the McFaul and prepared to return them to their homeland. They were given a place to sleep, blankets, water and food during the two-and-a-half-day journey back to Somalia.
"We gave up hope until we saw you. We are alive, hopeful, and glad to be here, " said Abdulrahman Ali Barhaaye, an elder among the rescued passengers.
Helping the Somalians became a ship-wide event. Whether repairing their engines, supplying food, water, shelter, life jackets, and blankets, or serving them three warm meals each day, every member of the McFaul crew lent a hand.
"This was a rewarding experience," said Fire Controlman 3rd Class Wright, one of the VBSS team members. "They appreciated our efforts and were very thankful."
On Saturday morning, the USS McFaul returned the 30 Somalians safely ashore, with their repaired skiff, to the small fishing village of Ceelaaya on the northern coast of Somalia.