Makassar Strait -- USS Rushmore (LSD 47) rendered assistance to 65 people on makeshift bamboo rafts in the waters between the Indonesian islands of Kalimantan and Sulawesi June 10.
Shipboard lookouts spotted the distressed persons waving orange and white flags. Rushmore's commanding officer, Cmdr. Thomas Stephens, ordered the launch of a small boat with two search and rescue swimmers to provide assistance. Rushmore Sailors discovered 65 people on sinking bamboo rafts tied together with no means of propulsion, food or water.
Sailors and Marines brought all 65 people on board the Rushmore for medical attention and will coordinate with local officials for their well-being.
"This is an example of the Essex Amphibious Ready Group's professional maritime skill and ability to be where it matters, when it matters to offer assistance," said Capt. Clint Carroll, Commander, Essex Amphibious Ready Group.
Rushmore was transiting the Makassar Strait after having just completed a port visit to Manado, Indonesia. As part of the Essex Amphibious Ready Group (ARG), Rushmore is in the Western Pacific en route to the Arabian Gulf for a routine deployment. Deployed with a Marine Expeditionary Unit, the ARG serves as a sea-based crisis response force capable of conducting amphibious missions across the full range of military operations.