USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG 81), assigned toTake a close look at the boat jammed with people, figure that they were being smuggled across the Gulf of Aden in a human smuggling operation . . . this tragedy was written long before Churchill showed up.
Combined Task Force (CTF) 151, identified a skiff drifting in the Gulf of Aden Sept. 26.
The skiff was initially discovered at approximately 7:30 a.m. local by the Republic of Korea vessel, ROKN Wan Geon (DDG 978), which passed the skiff's position to Winston S. Churchill, operating in the vicinity.
The skiff was carrying approximately 85 passengers, consisting of 10 Somalis and 75 Ethiopians.
Once on station, CTF 151 commander, Turkish navy Rear Adm. Sinan Ertugrul, directed Winston S. Churchill to render assistance to the skiff. Using a rigid-hulled inflatable boat (RHIB), Churchill crew members boarded the skiff and immediately rendered assistance, providing food and water to the skiff's passengers.
Churchill crew members determined the engines were inoperable and attempted to effect repairs, but were unsuccessful.
The RHIB then began towing the vessel to safety out of the Gulf's maritime traffic corridor and toward the coast of Somalia.
Despite the effort, approximately 13 passengers drowned, while 61 passengers were rescued and brought safely on board Winston S. Churchill. Eight passengers have been listed as missing.
Sad, very sad.
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