A U.S. Navy ship's crew rescued 15 people from a sinking commercial vessel off the coast of Somalia, the Bahrain-based 5th Fleet said Wednesday.
The replenishment oiler USNS Patuxent was operating in the Gulf of Aden when it was notified that the Falcon Line, a general cargo ship registered in the African nation of Gabon, was taking on water.
Patuxent proceeded at maximum speed to rescue the Falcon Line crew before the ship sank," 5th Fleet said in a statement.
The Patuxent team shielded the Falcon Line crew from heavy winds and high seas so they could board lifeboats, the Navy said.
They provided the rescued crew with food, water and a medical screening, the Navy said.
"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."
U.S. 5th Fleet is coordinating with the owner of Falcon Line and other authorities to determine where to disembark the crew members, the Navy said.
The 3,200-ton Falcon Line, built in 1991, was sailing from the Yemeni port of al Mukalla to Bosaso in Somalia when it went adrift and began taking on water, according to commercial ship tracking monitors.