U.S. assets conduct search and rescue for Iranian mariners

Release No: UNRELEASED March 4, 2012 PRINT | E-MAIL

MacDill AFB, Fla.  (March 4, 2012) - At approximately 11 a.m. local time, on March 3, the coastal patrol boat USS Firebolt spotted a life raft in the North Persian Gulf, and launched their small boat to investigate.

The patrol boat discovered one survivor from the Iranian cargo dhow Abu Al Fazel along with the remains of three other crew members. The survivor was treated for shock and hypothermia. Through the ship’s translator, the surviving mariner relayed that the dhow sank in bad weather with six mariners aboard at approximately 11 p.m., March 2. He confirmed that four were deceased and one missing; he’d been able to keep three of the bodies with the life raft.

The USS Firebolt along with a U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Maui U.S. Navy P-3 Orion, two MH-60 Seahawk helicopters, and dock landing ship USS Pearl Harbor were also on scene to assist in the search and rescue efforts for remaining crewmembers.

Meanwhile, Commander, Task Force 152, located in Kuwait, contacted the Iranian Rescue Coordination Center to report the status of the Abu Al Fazel and coordinate the transfer of the Iranian Mariners.

The surviving Iranian mariner, three deceased mariners, and a translator were transferred from the USS Firebolt to the USCGC Maui, in order to rendezvous with the Iranian Coast Guard. The U.S. cutter provided the Iranian mariner with food, water, and blankets.

At 6 p.m., 19 hours after the incident, the search ended due to poor weather conditions. The 30 knot winds, 6-8 ft. waves and water temperature of 56 degrees Fahrenheit significantly limited the chance of survivability to only 10 hours in the water.

At 8 p.m., the Iranian mariner was transferred by rigid hull inflatable boat from the USCGC Maui to the Iranian Coast Guard vessel Naji 7. By this point, weather conditions had deteriorated so much that only the survivor was transferred. The deceased were repatriated to Naji 7 the following day at 1 p.m., March 4.

The USS Firebolt and USCGC Maui departed the area to continue their mission supporting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility. They are assigned to Commander, Task Force 55.

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