Despite recent tensions between Iran and the United States, the U.S. Navy announced on Friday it had rescued 13 Iranian fishermen being held by Somali pirates in the Arabian Sea.
Fox News reported that an SH-60S Seahawk from the guided-missile destroyer USS Kidd detected the pirates while a simultaneous distress call was received from the Al Molai fishing vessel.
A team from the Kidd subsequently boarded the ship and detained 15 suspected pirates who had been holding a 13-member Iranian crew hostage for several weeks.
“The Al Molai had been taken over by pirates for roughly the last 40 to 45 days,” Josh Schminky, a Navy Criminal Investigative Service agent aboard the Kidd, told Fox News. “They were held hostage, with limited rations, and we believe were forced against their will to assist the pirates with other piracy operations.”
“When we boarded, we gave them food, water, and medical care,” he added. “They had been through a lot. We went out of our way to treat the fishing crew with kindness and respect.”
Schminky said 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.”
The pirates were detained until transferred to the USS John C. Stennis, where the matter will be reviewed for prosecution, the report said.
Ironically, the Stennis is the same ship that Iran earlier this week had threatened and warned not to return to the Persian Gulf after having left the area through the Straits of Hormuz in a “pre-planned, routine operation.”
The U.S. responded to the Iranian threat with a calm statement read by Pentagon spokesman George Little and which warned Iran, “The deployment of U.S. military assets in the Persian Gulf region will continue as it has for decades.”
The threat came during a ten-day Iranian naval exercise near the Strait of Hormuz, during which the Islamic Republic claimed to have successfully tested three long-range missiles. Later reports, however, suggested that claim was a bluff.
Meanwhile, the IDF announced on Thursday it is gearing up together with U.S. forces for a major missile defense exercise, which officials said would be the largest-ever joint drill by the two countries.
The IDF denied the joint drill is related to the Iranian maneuvers, saying it was planned long ago and is not tied to recent events.
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