Guided-missile frigate USS Rentz (FFG 46) and embarked U.S. Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment (LEDET) conducted a Safety-of-Life-at-Sea operation rescue Oct. 20-21 for a fishing vessel, 200 nautical miles off the coast of Ecuador in distress and stranded for 10 days.
The crew of the 14 meter vessel and four other small crafts in tow, had been without fuel or food prior to Rentz’ arrival.
The distressed vessel was spotted early Sunday morning, Oct. 20 by Rentz’ forward lookouts, who reported the small craft roughly 6,000 yards forward of the ship’s position. The ship swiftly responded and launched a rigid-hulled inflatable boat to investigate the situation with embarked U.S. Coast Guard LEDET personnel.
During the two-day rescue operation, LEDET personnel discovered that the vessel and five Ecuadorian nationals aboard had been struck by heavy weather, disorienting the crew and setting the small vessel 100 nautical miles off-course.
Adrift and out of fuel, the crew subsisted on bananas until Rentz arrived on scene and provided meals, ready-to-eat and approximately 120 gallons of diesel fuel; enough to return to home.
“Our crew is prepared to handle a myriad of situations while deployed to the 4th Fleet Area of Operations, including Safety-of-Life-at-Sea operations. We do so with the utmost pride and professionalism, and it is our duty to assist those in need on the high seas when the time comes. I am very pleased with this operation and could not be more proud of the swift actions taken by our crew,” Cmdr. Lance Lantier, commanding officer of USS Rentz said.
Rentz is currently conducting counter transnational organized crime operations in the 4th Fleet Area of Operations as part of Operation Martillo which began in January 2012.
U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and U.S. 4th Fleet (COMUSNAVSO/C4F) supports USSOUTHCOM joint and combined full-spectrum military operations by providing principally sea-based, forward presence to ensure freedom of maneuver in the maritime domain, to foster and sustain cooperative relationships with international partners and to fully exploit the sea as maneuver space in order to enhance regional security and promote peace, stability, and prosperity in the Caribbean, Central and South American regions.
Press Release, October 22, 2013; Image: US Navy