Members of the SIU Government Services Division sailing aboard the USNS Patuxent helped perform two rescues just nine days apart earlier this year.
The Patuxent, a fleet replenishment oiler, learned of a vessel in distress in the Gulf of Aden on June 7. The runway-flag commercial vessel Falcon Line had experienced engine failure and was taking on water, according to reports from the U.S. Navy.
After proceeding to the rescue scene at maximum speed, the Patuxent protected the Falcon Line’s crew from heavy winds and high seas while those mariners boarded life rafts. All 15 crew members from the distressed ship were brought aboard the Patuxent before their vessel sank. The Patuxent provided the rescued mariners with food, water and medical screenings.
The Patuxent, whose crew includes SIU CIVMARS, is part of the U.S. 5th Fleet. According to the Navy, “The U.S. 5th Fleet regularly works with coalition forces, regional partners and the shipping industry to maintain the regional awareness necessary to facilitate aid like this to mariners in distress.”
“As professional mariners, our forces have a duty to help those in need at sea,” said Navy Capt. Michael O’Driscoll, commander of Task Force 53. “The Sailors and civilian mariners aboard ships like Patuxent have answered this call before, and they will continue to do so whenever possible.”
His comment proved prescient. On June 16, the Patuxent rendered aid to another vessel that had been drifting for 12 days, also in the Gulf of Aden. The small fishing boat was taking on water; the Patuxent rescued the four crew members and gave them food, water and medical treatment. SIU Vice President Government Services Nicholas Celona stated, “I couldn’t be prouder of our members for their efforts in these rescues. Their dedication and professionalism shined through.”
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