GULF OF ADEN (NNS) -- 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 April 29. 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.
Coalition maritime forces operate throughout international waters in the Persian Gulf, Arabian Sea, Gulf of Oman, Gulf of Aden, Indian Ocean, and the Red Sea, conducting MSO.
MSO 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 international terrorists use of the maritime environment as a venue for attack or to transport personnel, weapons, or other material.
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