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US Destroyer Helps Rescue 97 Migrants in Mediterranean

  • Migrants aboard an inflatable vessel approach the guided-missile destroyer USS Carney in the Mediterranean Sea on July 29, 2016. Chief Information Systems Technician Wesley R. Dickey/Navy
    Migrants aboard an inflatable vessel approach the guided-missile destroyer USS Carney in the Mediterranean Sea on July 29, 2016. Chief Information Systems Technician Wesley R. Dickey/Navy
  • Sailors assigned to the USS Carney approach a small craft full of migrants while on patrol in the Mediterranean Sea on July 29, 2016. Senior Chief Personnel Specialist Galen Draper/Navy
    Sailors assigned to the USS Carney approach a small craft full of migrants while on patrol in the Mediterranean Sea on July 29, 2016. Senior Chief Personnel Specialist Galen Draper/Navy
  • The guided-missile destroyer USS Carney (DDG 64) departs Mayport for their new homeport of Rota, Spain. Carney is the fourth Arleigh Burke-class destroyer to be forward deployed to Rota. (U.S. Navy/MC1 John S. Smolinski/)
    The guided-missile destroyer USS Carney (DDG 64) departs Mayport for their new homeport of Rota, Spain. Carney is the fourth Arleigh Burke-class destroyer to be forward deployed to Rota. (U.S. Navy/MC1 John S. Smolinski/)

A Navy ship supporting the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp in the Mediterranean was called on to support the rescue of nearly 100 migrants whose small inflatable watercraft was adrift in the water.

The rescue happened July 29, according to officials from U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa and U.S. 6th Fleet. The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer Carney arrived where the migrants were adrift in their vessel and provided aid to them until a rescue ship, the MS Aquarius, arrived. The Aquarius, owned by the European civil and humanitarian initiative SOS Mediterranee, took the migrants on board and carried them to safety.

According to officials, physicians with Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors without Borders) routinely embark with this rescue ship and give care to rescued refugees until they can be released to the appropriate authorities.

Officials with NAVEUR/6th Fleet did not identify the nationality of the migrants. But they said 96 men and one woman were aboard the small vessel and were rescued.

"Today, Team Carney aided in the rescue of 97 migrants while operating in the Mediterranean Sea," Carney commanding officer Cmdr. Kenneth Pickard said in a statement released by the command. "Seeing the plight of these desperate migrants and the danger they were in was humbling. As Sailors we make our living on the high seas. We were honored to help these 97 people to safety. My crew acted with the utmost professionalism and compassion and I couldn't be more proud of them."

The Carney forward deployed to Rota, Spain, last September as the fourth U.S. destroyer in a quartet of ships tasked with supporting European ballistic missile defense in concert with two Aegis ashore batteries located in Poland and Romania. It also conducts presence missions in the region in support of the U.S. and NATO.

At the time of the rescue, the Carney was supporting the Wasp Amphibious Ready Group, which is transporting the North Carolina-based 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit on a deployment that will ultimately take the unit through the 6th Fleet and into the waters around the Middle East, where it will likely support the fight against Islamic State militants.

-- Hope Hodge Seck can be reached at hope.seck@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at@HopeSeck.

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