Stranded Iranian Mariners Rescued
by USS Gonzalez Sailors

By Jason Gutierrez

Boarding team members assigned to the guided missile destroyer USS Gonzalez (DDG 66) prepare to board an Iranian dhow. The vessel had been adrift for ten days before Gonzalez provided assistance to the dhow’s crew by providing them food, water and coordinating the crew’s repatriation after determining their engine was beyond repair.

U.S. Navy Photo

ABOARD USS GONZALEZ (NNS) — The guided-missile destroyer USS Gonzalez (DDG 66), currently deployed to the Persian Gulf in support of maritime security operations (MSO), rescued six Iranian marinafter they had been adrift for 10 days.

Gonzalez’s bridge team first spotted the crippled dhow while conducting MSO in the Central Persian Gulf. Once the destroyer’s watchstanders identified the distressed vessel, the ship immediately changed its course to render assistance. The Iranians explained that their dhow’s engine and rudder failed several days earlier.

“Patrolling warships are sometimes called on for humanitarian interventions,” said Cmdr. Robert D. Randall, the ship’s commanding officer.

Combined Forces Maritime Component assets, like Gonzalez, are flexible enough to continue the MSO mission while providing assistance to mariners in distress. Naval assets conducting coalition MSO have a longstanding tradition of providing medical assistance, engineering assistance, and search and rescue.

Persian Gulf – The guided-missile destroyer USS Gonzalez (DDG 66) transits through the Persian Gulf.

Photo by Dusan M. Ilic / U.S. Navy Photo

Gonzalez’s boarding party gave the Iranian crew food and water as they had exhausted their supplies during the 10 days adrift. In addition, the U.S. Sailors inspected the dhow’s engineering plant and determined the engine was beyond repair. Gonzalez then coordinated the mariners’ repatriation with other members of the coalition conducting MSO in the area and the Iranian authorities.

“It felt good to assist,” said Randall.

The crew of the Norfolk-based warship deployed to the Middle East as part of the Sea Swap program in February to conduct MSO and support Operation Enduring Freedom. Maritime security operations help set the conditions for security and stability in the maritime environment as well as complement the counter-terrorism and security efforts of regional nations. MSO deny the illegal use of the maritime environment as a venue for attack or to transport personnel, weapons or other material.