Time-Honored Traditions: Assistance at Sea
Imagine being out on a fishing boat, enjoying a day of deep-sea fishing with family and friends, and suddenly the boat’s engine loses power. Your vessel is now adrift miles from shore and no one on board knows how to fix the problem.
In a scenario that could quickly become a life or death situation, you’d welcome help from anyone willing to offer it, and in keeping with time-honored traditions any available mariners in the area are duty-bound to assist.
As a maritime force, the U.S. Navy has a lengthy recorded history of helping mariners in distress by providing medical assistance, engineering assistance, and conducting search-and-rescue missions when called upon.
In two separate incidences this month, Naval Surface Forces ships have provided assistance to such mariners in distress.
On March 19, USS Lake Erie, while preparing for an upcoming deployment during a composite training unit exercise (COMPTUEX) with the Nimitz Carrier Strike Group in the Pacific Ocean, assisted 25 mariners after receiving a distress call from a civilian boat taking on water. The ship deployed an eight person rescue and assistance team to embark the distressed vessel; they immediately began dewatering and searching for the source of the flooding. The team found two cracks in the hull of the wooden boat and then used wooden shoring to decrease the flow of incoming water. Once the flooding was under control and the water level on board dropped, the Lake Erie team turned the operation over to the U.S. Coast Guard.
In the second incident, on March 24, USS Cole, while deployed in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations, responded to signal flares fired by stranded fishermen whose boat’s engine had stopped running. Cole launched Sailors to the United Arab Emirates-flagged vessel to conduct an approach and assist visit, where they provided the boat with a new battery and some cookies.
These are just a few examples of ways Surface Warriors work to uphold maritime tradition. Whether in the oceans surrounding our nation, or those far from home, the willingness of the U.S. Navy and Naval Surface Forces to assist mariners in distress honors both a long standing maritime tradition and the values of honor, courage, and commitment they pride themselves on.