Just days after Iran threatened the U.S. Navy and bloviated about closing off the Strait of Hormuz, the Navy saved 13 Iranian commercial sailors from pirates. Anytime you want to express your gratitude, Tehran, the Pentagon will take your call.
The incident occurred Thursday in the northern Arabian Sea, the Navy said, after the aircraft carrier U.S.S. John C. Stennis’ battle group left the strait. The Stennis received a distress call from a ship warning of a pirate assault.
That led the U.S.S. Kidd, a destroyer in the battle group, to the al-Molai, an Iranian-flagged fishing vessel that the pirates had hijacked over a month ago and used as a mothership. A boarding team from the Kidd apparently faced little resistance from the pirates, whose nationalities the Navy has yet to verify, although Somali pirates have clashed with Iranians before. The Kidd team freed the Iranian hostages and took 15 pirates back to the Stennis, where they’re currently detained.
According to members of the Kidd boarding party, the Iranian crew said they were forced by the pirates to live in harsh conditions, under the threat of violence with limited supplies and medical aid.
"When we boarded, we gave them food, water, and medical care," said Schminky. "They had been through a lot. We went out of our way to treat the fishing crew with kindness and respect.
"After securing the ship and ensuring the safety of all persons on board, we began distributing food and water to both the crew and the suspected criminals as is our standard practice in counter-piracy operations," said Schminky.
The pirates were detained on the Al Molai by the Kidd boarding party until the next morning when they could be transferred to the USS John C. Stennis where the matter will be reviewed for prosecution. The pirates currently remain on the Stennis.
"The captain of the Al Molai expressed his sincere gratitude that we came to assist them. He was afraid that without our help, they could have been there for months," said Schminky.
Image, U.S. Navy: "The guided-missile destroyer USS Kidd (DDG 100) responds to a distress call from the master of the Iranian-flagged fishing dhow Al Molai."