U.S. Crew Rescues Somali Mariners
By Navy Ensign Colleen M. Flynn
Combined Maritime Forces
MANAMA, Bahrain, Mar. 29, 2010 The crew of a U.S. Navy ship saved 30 men, women and children off the coast of Somalia March 25.
The crew of USS McFaul rescues Somali men and women on a drifting skiff the crew spotted during a routine patrol, March 25, 2010. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Cory Phelps
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
USS McFaul, an Arleigh Burke class destroyer on a seven-month deployment in the Gulf of Aden, was conducting a routine patrol about 100 miles off Somalia’s north coast in support of counterpiracy operations when the crew spotted a small skiff.
The 30 people onboard had been stranded with no food and very little water for nearly four days since departing the Somali coast, they said. The skiff had suffered engine failures in both outboard motors.
"Once we recognized there was no threat, noticeable engine failure and lack of food and water, it was evident they desperately needed our help," the ship’s boarding officer said. McFaul's embarked translator facilitated communication between the Somali mariners and the boarding team.
The McFaul crew immediately took the Somali mariners onboard and prepared to return them to their homeland, offering them a place to sleep, blankets, water and food to make them feel as comfortable as possible for the two-and-a-half-day journey back to Somalia.
Abdulrahman Ali Barhaaye, one of the elders rescued from the skiff, offered thanks. "We gave up hope until we saw you,” he said. “We are alive, hopeful, and glad to be here."
Helping the Somali mariners became a shipwide event, whether repairing the skiff’s engines or supplying the rescued mariners with food, water, shelter, life jackets and blankets.
"This was a rewarding experience," one of the boarding team members said. "They appreciated our efforts and were very thankful."
On the morning of March 27, McFaul returned the 30 Somalian mariners safely ashore with their repaired skiff at the small fishing village of Ceelaaya.
USS McFaul is assigned to Combined Task Force 151, which is a 24-nation task force established in January 2009 to conduct counterpiracy operations.