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Navy Ships Thwart Piracy Attempt-Rescue Iranian Fishermen

Forces assigned to the John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group, rescued an Iranian fishing vessel from pirates in the northern Arabian Sea, Jan. 5.

At approximately 12:30 p.m local time, an SH-60S Seahawk from guided-missile destroyer USS Kidd (DDG 100) detected a suspected pirate skiff alongside the Iranian-flagged fishing dhow Al Molai. Simultaneously, a distress call was received from the master of the Al Molai claiming he was being held captive by pirates.

A visit, board, search and seizure team from Kidd boarded the Al Molai and detained 15 suspected pirates who had been holding a 13-member Iranian crew hostage for several weeks. The Al Molai had been pirated and used as a “mother ship” for pirate operations throughout the Persian Gulf, according to members of the Iranian vessel’s crew.

The pirates did not resist the boarding and surrendered quickly.

“The Al Molai had been taken over by pirates for roughly the last 40-45 days,” said Josh Schminky, a Navy Criminal Investigative Service agent aboard the Kidd. “They were held hostage, with limited rations, and we believe were forced against their will to assist the pirates with other piracy operations.”

According to members of the Kidd boarding party, the Iranian crew said they were forced by the pirates to live in harsh conditions, under the threat of violence with limited supplies and medical aid.

“When we boarded, we gave them food, water, and medical care,” said Schminky. “They had been through a lot. We went out of our way to treat the fishing crew with kindness and respect.

“After securing the ship and ensuring the safety of all persons on board, we began distributing food and water to both the crew and the suspected criminals as is our standard practice in counter-piracy operations,” said Schminky.

The pirates were detained on the Al Molai by the Kidd boarding party until the next morning when they could be transferred to the USS John C. Stennis where the matter will be reviewed for prosecution. The pirates currently remain on the Stennis.

“The captain of the Al Molai expressed his sincere gratitude that we came to assist them. He was afraid that without our help, they could have been there for months,” said Schminky.

Piracy is an international problem that requires an international solution and a threat to all mariners. The presence of U.S. Navy ships in this region promotes freedom of navigation and protects the safety of those who transit the sea.

The John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group is conducting maritime security operations in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations while supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

 

 

Following the public release on information  a  conference call was held on 6 Jan-in which both Faller and Ellinger answered questions from Pentagon and San Diego media:

 

Rear Admiral Craig Faller opening statement

 

Commander Jennifer Ellinger opening statement

 

 

 LIVE FEED POSTED on Twitter @USNavy CONFERENCE CALL WITH RDML CRAIG FALLER, Carrier Strike Group Three Commander, and Cmdr. Jennifer Ellinger, USS Kidd (DDG 100) commanding officer:

 Stennis rcv’d distress call from M/V -under piracy attack-helo sees skiff through objects into water-no other signs of #piracy

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 Skiff released by Navy boarding team after no signs of #piracy-but tracked by Stennis assets as it leaves the scene

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 Small “fishing boat” 75 miles out in open ocean operating for fun..we didn’t think so- RDML Faller re: counter #piracy ops in Arabian Sea

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 USS Kidd was vectored to the skiff after a 2nd distress call was rec’d- (Iranian fishing boat) sends help & VBSS team-look 4 #piracy signs

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 15 pirates, unsure of nationality- suspect they have been operating throughout N. Arabian Sea, not in Persian Gulf – RDML Faller LIVE NOW

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 Fishing crew was extremely happy – expressed that they were boarded and taken over 1-2 months ago – CDR Jennifer L. Ellinger

  USS Kidd team detained 15 pirates – provided 13 Iranian with food and water

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 Iranian fisherman pleased to see USS KIDD crew, left ship today wearing ball caps heading back to homeport – RDML Faller LIVE NOW

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 Rdml Faller – wanted to make sure the vessel was an Iranian flagged vessel – and that pirates were not using false flag

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 Very quickly observed Iranian flag flying from stern of vessel, confirmed actual nationality of vessel once aboard – RDML FALLER #piracy

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 Hostage spoke in different dialect in hopes that pirates did not understand call for help- CDR Ellinger re: counter #piracy aboard USS KIDD

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 CO Kidd-concern during boarding for safety and then to apprehend suspected pirates

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 USS Kidd CO – we maintained a forceful presence – master told pirates that US would shoot if they didn’t comply

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 Great outcome for innocent Iranian fisherman and indicative of mission of America’s Navy to protect and serve- RDML Faller counter #piracy

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 USS Kid CO- the entire ship took part but 2 boarding teams trained to detain and handle pirates

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 Rdml Faller – NCIS is aboard as part of normal operations & USS Kidd had 1 on board to handle the investigation aspect

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 USS Mobile Bay + helo squad were initial responders, USS Kidd key in follow on release of hostages + capture of pirates- RDML Faller 

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 As our mission dictates, STENNIS will continue to operate in this region. For now it’s business as usual- RDML Faller counter #piracy

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 Rdml Faller – U.S. Navy has been here for 60 years and is on call and ready!

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 Rdml Faller – We are ready hope that America sleeps well tonight knowing we’ve got the watch

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 This was an opportunity to help hostages in need—had no bearing on nationality- CDR Ellinger counter #piracy

 

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