On Sunday, 1 December 2013, the NATO counter-piracy Operation OCEAN SHIELD task group flagship HNoMS FRIDTJOF NANSEN rescued the crew of a Somalia-based dhow, which contained broken steering gear and two ill crew members.
While patrolling the Gulf of Aden, NANSEN received a call from a Japanese Maritime Patrol Aircraft, which had observed the dhow crew waiving a white flag.
Though NANSEN was 70 nautical miles away, the ship reacted swiftly and was able to reach the disabled dhow within a few hours. NANSEN’s boarding team was sent on board to investigate. According to the dhow’s captain, the ship had been stranded for days with broken steering, without food and nearly exhausted of drinking water, and was now beginning to flood.
The two ill crew members were taken on board NANSEN for medical care. The rest of the crew were taken on board NANSEN and given food, water, and rest, while the NANSEN crew tried to fix the steering and set the dhow up to be towed.
The Somali crew of seven trades fish to Yemen and brings fuel back to the village of Qaboo, Somalia. The transit normally takes one day, and they brought food and water for only that time period.
“The dhow and her crew were in a area where there`s no traffic,” said NANSEN’s commanding officer, Commander senior grade Ståle Pedersen. “They were very lucky that they were discovered. We took good care of the crew, and we will make sure they get home safely.”
The dhow captain and his crew met Monday morning with Captain Pedersen. They expressed their gratitude for all the help that had been given.
“I am proud of NANSEN´s prompt response to the call,” said Commander of NATO’s Counter-Piracy Task Force 508 (CTF-508), Commodore Henning Amundsen. “In responding to the dhow in distress they displayed excellent seamanship. They have proven their merit, not only in the field of counter-piracy operations, but also in rescuing and providing medical assistance to fellow sailors in need.”
Press Release, December 4, 2013; Image: NATO