USS ELROD, At Sea (NNS) -- The U.S. Navy frigate USS Elrod (FFG 55) rescued 16 Pakistani mariners stranded in a life raft near the wreckage of their fishing vessel 144 miles west of Socotra Island off the Horn of Africa July 5.
A U.S. Navy P-3C Orion aircraft, from Patrol Squadron 16 (VP 16), forward-deployed out of Djibouti, spotted the life raft near debris in the eastern Gulf of Aden around noon (GMT +3) during a routine patrol in support of the counter-piracy task force Combined Task Force (CTF) 151.
Elrod, the nearest vessel with search and rescue (SAR) capabilities, dispatched an SH-60B Sea Hawk helicopter to conduct SAR operations while the Elrod was en route to the mariners' location. The helicopter crew rescued 12 men by air, and when the frigate neared the life raft, they sent a rigid-hull inflatable boat to pick up the remaining four men.
Once the survivors were aboard Elrod at 5 p.m. (GMT +3), interpreters confirmed that all crew members had been rescued. The medical team aboard Elrod assessed them to be in good health.
The mariners' vessel, the Pakistani-flagged fishing skiff Al An Wari, sank in the Gulf of Aden due to cracks in the hull. The skiff had pulled into port in Yemen June 29 for repairs, returned to sea July 1 and sank July 2. The crew was drifting at sea in a life raft for more than 48 hours before the frigate rescued them.
Elrod transferred the Pakistani nationals to the Pakistani Navy destroyer PNS Babur (D 182) July 6 to be taken home. Babur is in the region conducting counter-piracy operations in support of CTF 151.
For more news from Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/Commander, U.S. 5th Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/cusnc/.