Mustin, currently conducting maritime security operations (MSO) in the area, responded immediately after receiving word from USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) of the vessel in distress. Vinson is also deployed to the Northern Persian Gulf conducting MSO and providing air support for multinational forces on the ground in Iraq. The crew of Olympias notified Vinson of the fire via bridge-to-bridge radio.USS Mustin
When crew members from the destroyer arrived on scene, they found the motor vessel’s superstructure burning and 27 people from Olympias jumping into a life raft. Mustin Sailors safely transferred 25 Indians, a Nepalese and one Sri Lankan to the destroyer’s rigid-hull inflatable boats, or RHIBs.
Those aboard the Panamanian-flagged vessel boarded the U.S. Navy ship, where they received food, clothing and medical attention. Navy corpsmen report that all passengers are in good health.
The cause of the fire is unknown.
Update: More on Maritime Security Ops here with a news release on a Pakistani ship patrolling the Gulf of Oman, and here on another rescue by coalition navy forces of 89 people in the Gulf of Aden:
U.S. Navy ships rescued 94 people after the vessel they were in capsized in the waters of the Gulf of Aden 25 miles off the coast of Somalia at approximately 3:45 p.m. local time Friday. Five of the 94 pulled from the water were pronounced dead on scene.
The guided-missile cruiser USS Normandy (CG 60), coastal patrol ships USS Firebolt (PC 10) and USS Typhoon (PC 5), and the German frigate FGS Karlsruhe (F 212), who were in the vicinity conducting maritime security operations (MSO), are rendering assistance.
Karlsruhe initially conducted a routine query of the vessel, which appeared to be a dhow with approximately 35 people on deck. The vessel did not respond, and both Karlsruhe and Firebolt closed to investigate.
As Firebolt approached the dhow to take a closer look, it reported that there were approximately 100 people aboard, and that the vessel did not appear to be seaworthy and was taking on water. Firebolt, a 170-ft patrol craft, requested assistance with conducting an evacuation of the vessel and began passing out life vests. Typhoon was directed to close the vessel and provide Firebolt assistance with transferring passengers to both U.S. ships. In the process of providing assistance to the passengers, the vessel capsized and sank.
All but five of the passengers and crew, who were pulled from the water, were transferred to Normandy for additional care. The five remaining behind aboard Firebolt received injuries that precluded any immediate attempt to affect a transfer to Normandy and are receiving care from medically trained U.S. Navy personnel.
The master of the vessel claims that there were 135 people aboard and coalition maritime forces, including SH-60 Seahawk helicopter aerial reconnaissance support from Normandy, are conducting a search for the unaccounted for personnel. The circumstances surrounding this incident are under investigation, and final disposition of the passengers and crew has yet to be determined.
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