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USS San Jacinto responds to Yemeni vessel's distress call

By USS Harry S. Truman and USS San Jacinto public affairs

January 10, 2001, GULF OF OMAN (NNS) - The Norfolk-based cruiser USS San Jacinto (CG 56) recently responded to the distress call of a small Yemeni boat 60 miles off the coast of Yemen. The boat experienced engine problems, stranding its 11 Yemeni passengers at sea for 10 days.

At 2:02 p.m. local time, a Navy SH-60B Seahawk helicopter attached to the warship discovered the dhow with people on deck waving their arms wildly. The helicopter, permanently assigned to Helicopter Antisubmarine Squadron 42 Detachment 8, based out of Mayport, Fla., was on a routine patrol and relayed the information to San Jacinto, which then changed course to render assistance.

"The passengers appeared physically drained and they had exhausted their supply of food and water," said Boatswain's Mate 3rd Class Abdulkarim Mohamed, San Jacinto's Yemen-born interpreter. "We used our small boat to provide them with enough food and water to make it back to shore."

"The crew had rigged a makeshift sail, but it was clear that the rig was not working out too well," said Ensign Brian Maynard, one of San Jacinto's boarding officers assisting in the replenishment effort. "I'm glad we were in the right spot at the right time."

San Jacinto towed the boat to the Yemeni port of Ghubbat Al Mukalla where the boat and crew were turned over to a Yemeni pilot vessel for the final tow in to the pier.

"San Jac Sailors were anxious to help out the crew of the stricken vessel," said Capt. Craig Langman, San Jacinto's commanding officer. "They were fellow sailors who needed a little help, and we were happy to oblige. There are no nationalities out here when it comes to someone in need."

The Yemeni passengers were indeed very grateful to the San Jacinto crew, thanking them over and over again as the cruiser rendered assistance. One passenger, an elderly gentleman, expressed his gratitude with tears of joy. "God bless you," a passenger said as San Jacinto turned the stranded dhow over to the pilot vessel.

"We were fortunate to be in a position to be able to lend a helping hand," said Rear Adm. Jim McArthur, commander of the Harry S. Truman Battle Group. "It is common for our forward-deployed naval forces to assist those in distress on the high seas. It is satisfying to be able to extend a helping hand to friends in peril and be able to make a difference."

San Jacinto deployed Nov. 28 with the USS Harry S. Truman Battle Group and will return to its homeport of Norfolk, Va., in late May.

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