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Navy Destroyer Helps Stranded Iranian Fishermen

Sailors assigned to the guided-missile destroyer USS Nitze (DDG 94) render assistance to a distressed Iranian vessel. (U.S. Navy photo/Petty Officer 3rd Class Casey J. Hopkins)
Sailors assigned to the guided-missile destroyer USS Nitze (DDG 94) render assistance to a distressed Iranian vessel. (U.S. Navy photo/Petty Officer 3rd Class Casey J. Hopkins)

A guided-missile destroyer patrolling the Arabian Gulf took time to render humanitarian aid after coming across three Iranian fishermen in distress, officials with the Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group said this week.

The USS Nitze was alerted Nov. 18 by the carrier Eisenhower, also operating in the Middle East, of the presence of a small fishing vessel in distress. The crew of the Nitze located and identified the vessel, officials said, and the crew immediately stepped in to render aid.

The very small fishing boat, shown in Navy photographs to be little more than a rowboat with a motor, was stranded due to a dead battery, the crew found. The Nitze gave the crew a new battery and a case of water to prevent dehydration.

"Our Sailors are trained to respond quickly to those in distress at sea," Cmdr. Paul Kaylor, commanding officer of the Nitze, said in a statement. "We are proud to have assisted in this situation."

The ship has had a very eventful deployment since it left port in June for its seven-month pump. In August, the Nitze was harassed by four small Iranian boats while in the Strait of Hormuz, prompting it to fire off warning flares. The incident highlighted ongoing tension between U.S. and Iranian naval forces, though it did not result in any military escalation.

And in October, the Nitze was called on to respond to two separate missile attacks originating from the coast of Yemen that targeted the destroyer Mason, another ship in the Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group. On Oct. 12, the ship fired five Tomahawk missiles, destroying three radar sites in Yemen controlled by Houthi rebels and believed to have been used to target the American ships.

Strike group officials noted that the Navy has a long tradition of helping distressed mariners from many countries, providing medical and engineering assistance as well as search-and-rescue assets when needed.

To date, ships deployed to waters around the Middle East, within U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, have helped mariners in need on more than 30 occasions. On 12 of those occasions, the mariners were Iranian, officials noted in the release.

The deployment of the Nitze and the rest of the strike group is expected to continue until early next year.

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

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