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U.S. Naval Forces Assist in Search and Rescue in Bahrain

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 30, 2006 – U.S. 5th Fleet assets and personnel responded immediately at approximately 10:15 p.m. today after learning that a vessel capsized in a Bahraini harbor, approximately one mile east of the command's headquarters in Bahrain.

U.S. Navy and Coast Guard vessels, including Coast Guard Cutter Wrangell, got under way from the Bahrain port to support Bahrain's rescue efforts. A U.S. Navy helicopter is currently in the air, and another is standing by to assist the government of Bahrain, which has the lead on search-and-rescue efforts. In addition, 16 Navy divers are standing by, U.S. military officials said.

Press reports from the area identified the vessel as a passenger ferry and said dozens of bodies have been recovered. It is undetermined how the vessel capsized and how many passengers were on board at the time of the accident, U.S. Navy officials said.

"All U.S. assets involved are forward deployed to 5th Fleet to support maritime security operations and will assist the Bahraini authorities as necessary," a 5th Fleet spokesman said in a statement.

Maritime security operations set the conditions for security and stability in the maritime environment, as well as complement the counterterrorism and security efforts of regional nations, officials said. Such operations deny international terrorists use of the maritime environment as a venue for attack or to transport personnel, weapons or other material.

(From a U.S. Naval Forces Central Command Public Affairs news release.)

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