Nov 06, Colombo: The crew of the amphibious transport dock ship USS Anchorage came to the rescue of six Sri Lankan fishermen stranded deep in the Indian Ocean.
The San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS Anchorage (LPD 23) rendered assistance and provided aid to the crew of the stranded Sri Lankan-flagged fishing vessel, M/V Lakshan, on early Wednesday (November 4).
The Anchorage, part of the Essex Amphibious Ready Group, which has been deployed to the Middle East since May, was returning to home base in San Diego and transiting through the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations when the watchstanders spotted six mariners aboard the vessel waving articles of clothing in an attempt to get the attention of the U.S. Navy ship, the U.S. Navy said in a communiqué.
The commanding officer aboard Anchorage, Capt. J.J. Cummings, ordered the dispatch of a rescue and assistance team, which determined Lakshan had experienced a crank case explosion, leaving both engines unworkable and beyond at-sea repair. The fishing vessel had been at sea without power for one day when the fishing vessel's crew hailed the crew of Anchorage for assistance.
"Once our Rescue and Assist Team determined the vessel was dead in the water and 300 miles from land with no food or water, it was obvious that the crew was facing a life or death situation," said Cummings.
"Giving them assistance became our number one priority, and we were not going anywhere until we had full confidence that the crew was safe. Our Sailors instantly flexed from underway operations to mariner assistance, and it was a beautiful thing to watch."
The rescue and assistance team delivered food, water and car batteries to power the stranded vessel temporarily to the crew of Lakshan. The fishing vessel's parent company sent another vessel M/V Beyanara, roughly 165 nautical miles away at the time of Anchorage's arrival on station, for assistance. Anchorage remained on station until their arrival.
Beyanara arrived Thursday afternoon, at which point the crew aboard Beyanara assumed on-scene commander responsibilities from Anchorage's commanding officer, and is now in the process of towing the vessel and crew back to land.
"This event stands as testimony to what lengths our nation will go to help complete strangers and the remarkable professionalism of the Anchorage Sailors," continued Cummings. "Our bridgewing lookouts, who were the first to spot their distress signal, literally saved the lives of these mariners in distress."