USS Churchill Rescues Stranded Fishermen

Story Number: NNS100623-03Release Date: 6/23/2010 12:29:00 PM
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By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Stuart Phillips, USS Winston S. Churchill Public Affairs

USS WINSTON S. CHURCHILL, At Sea (NNS) -- Members of USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG 81) visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) team provided assistance to two stranded Yemeni fishermen June 21.

The fishermen had been out to sea for a total of 14 days and had been stranded without food, water or fuel for the last four. The VBSS team provided food and water to the two men.

"The law of the sea demands that we render assistance to those in need," said Capt. Robert Barwis, commodore for Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 26. "We were glad to be able to help."

Churchill's commanding officer, Cmdr. Juan Orozco, stressed the importance of taking care of fellow mariners in distress.

"As soon as our helo spotted the stranded fishermen, we knew we had to go help them. It is every Sailor's responsibility to help those in need on the high seas," said Orozco. "You could see the satisfaction in my crew's faces, knowing that they had done a good deed."

"It was more of a humanitarian mission than a typical boarding," said Cryptological Technician (Technical) 1st Class Christopher Costa, a member of the boarding team.

The team from Winston S. Churchill stayed with the small dhow until the Yemeni Coast Guard arrived to escort the dhow back to land.

"To be involved with operations like this is rewarding in itself," said Costa. "We went over there as a team to see if anything was suspicious and ended up helping them out."

Members of the VBSS team are prepared to board and inspect vessels of interest. Their work normally focuses on counterpiracy and counter-terrorism operations and the prevention of drug and weapons smuggling, according to Sonar Technician 2nd Class Ryan Braley.

VBSS team members encounter a wide range of responses from the crew members of the vessel being boarded, according to Braley.

"We boarded a dhow once and the crew said a group of people came up, took their radios and broke them, so they were real happy that we were there. A lot of them told us 'we see you guys around all the time, and we feel safe that you're in the area'," said Braley.

Winston S. Churchill is currently deployed with the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group to the 5th Fleet Area of Responsibility.

For more news from USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), visit

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG 81) departs Naval Station Norfolk.
Official U.S. Navy file photo.
May 25, 2010
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