In this picture issued by the U.S. Navy, the crew of a U.S. Coast Guard vessel provide help to Iranian mariners after their boat started taking on water.
A U.S. Coast Guard ship helped six Iranian sailors Tuesday after their cargo vessel began taking on water, marking the second time in less than a week that the American military has come to the aid of Iranians at sea.
The patrol boat Monomoy, which is assigned to Task Force 55 in the Persian Gulf (also known as the Arabian Gulf), saw distress flares coming from the dhow Ya-Hussayn during the night early Tuesday, according to a statement issued by the U.S. Fifth Fleet.
"The dhow's master requested assistance from Monomoy indicating the engine room was flooding and deemed not seaworthy," it added.
After they were rescued, the Iranian mariners were provided with Halal food in accordance with Islamic custom.
"Monomoy immediately launched their small boat and approached the Ya-Hussayn. Two persons were rescued from the vessel, and four from a life raft tied off to the dhow's stern," it said.
The statement said the men were given water, blankets, and Halal meals "in accordance with Islamic law."
The rescue was another reminder of U.S. efforts to demonstrate the humanitarian value of its naval presence in the Gulf, a strategic waterway that the Iranian government has threatened to close in retaliation for international sanctions over its nuclear program.
Last Thursday, the U.S. Navy rescued 13 Iranian fishermen who had been held captive by pirates in the northern Arabian Sea, just outside the Gulf, for more than 40 days. That happened just days after Tehran warned the United States to keep its warships out of the Gulf. The fishermen were sent on their way and the 15 pirates were taken aboard the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis.
Dead 'without your help'
In its statement, Naval Forces Central Command quoted the dhow's owner, identified as Hakim Hamid-Awi, as telling the Americans, "Without your help, we were dead. Thank you for all that you did for us."
One Iranian was treated for injuries that were described as "not serious" and the sailors were later transferred to an Iranian Coast Guard vessel, the statement said.
U.S. Navy Captain Edward Cashman, Commander of Task Force 55, said Monomoy had "displayed exceptional skill and professionalism during the night time rescue."
Boatswain Mate 2nd Class Emily Poole, Monomoy's medic, said they were just doing their job.
"Saving lives is the last thing you expect to do at 0300 while patrolling in the Northern Arabian Gulf, but being in the Coast Guard, that's what we are trained to do," she said, according to the statement.
A U.S. ship rescued Iranians stranded at sea for the second time in less than a week.
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