MANAMA, Bahrain -- A U.S. guided missile destroyer on Monday aided in the rescue of a wooden vessel in the central Mediterranean carrying some 120 people, apparently migrants seeking to get to southern Europe.
The nationality of the passengers was not immediately known, nor was the boat’s place of origin. The USS Gravely was about 75 nautical miles from the 90-foot boat when it was dispatched in response to a distress call, said U.S. Navy 6th Fleet spokesman Lt. Shawn Eklund. The destroyer arrived about 8 p.m., determined that the boat was in no immediate danger and remained until an Italian coast guard boat arrived Tuesday morning to ferry the passengers away.
Earlier this month, the USS San Antonio rescued 128 people near Malta. European countries continue to deal with an influx of migrants -- most from Somalia and Eritrea, according to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. The UNHCR estimates that more than 8,000 migrants and asylum-seekers landed on the coasts of Malta and Italy in the first six months of the year, and there were some 15,000 last year.
The USS Gravely has returned to its normal duties in the Mediterranean Sea.