U.S. sailors over the weekend rescued two Iranians whose fishing boat had been adrift in the Gulf of Oman for more than a week, the Navy said Sunday in a statement.
Such maritime rescues are somewhat common, but Saturday’s mission is noteworthy because of the two nations involved and the military tensions between them.
Iranian naval vessels have repeatedly harassed American military ships in the Persian Gulf over the past several years, including a confrontation last May in which a U.S. Coast Guard cutter fired multiple warning shots after being swarmed by more than a dozen small Iranian ships.
But Saturday’s rescue appears to have only involved civilian fishermen. The U.S. Navy said the two Iranian mariners sent out a distress call after the ship had been stranded at sea for eight days.
The Navy dry cargo ship USNS Charles Drew responded and rescued the two Iranians, military officials said.
“This is what we are trained and ready to do,” Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, U.S. 5th Fleet and Combined Maritime Forces, said in a statement. “As professional mariners, we have a responsibility to help people in need at sea.”
On Sunday, the Charles Drew transported the two mariners to an Omani coast guard vessel. Officials said the Iranians were in “good health and spirits” despite having been adrift for eight days.