Only ten days into her operational deployment with the Combined Maritime Forces Combined Task Force (CTF) 150, HMAS Darwin, in cooperation with Pakistan Maritime Security Agency Ship MSS Nusrat, has come to the rescue of 13 fishermen found adrift at sea off Pakistan. The men were discovered last Saturday, 1 March.

A member of HMAS Darwin’s crew provides water to the fishermen.

The men, who claimed to be Iranian nationals, said they had been drifting for five days in international waters after their boat was reportedly struck by an unknown vessel and sank.

HMAS Darwin launched a Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat, provided food, water, minor medical care and safety to the shipwrecked men.

HMAS Darwin’s Boarding team approach the shipwrecked fisherman.

HMAS Darwin remained with them until MSS Nusrat arrived and returned them to shore. Darwin’s actions were undertaken in accordance with obligations under international law and the 1974 International Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention.

Australia’s Joint Task Force 633 Commander, Major General Craig Orme, AM, CSC, said the successful rescue showcased the strong relationship and ongoing cooperation with the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) and its international partners.

The MSS Nusrat collects the shipwrecked fishermen.

“The US led CMF, CMF’s Pakistani-led Combined Task Force 151 and Australia’s Joint Task Force 633 Headquarters cooperated to secure assistance from Pakistan’s Search and Rescue Authorities,” Major General Orme said.

“It was a good demonstration of coalition interoperability,” he added.

Captain William Nault, US Navy, Chief of Staff CMF, said: “SOLAS is a fundamental responsibility for all sea-going vessels and their crews. With the timely and professional assistance of CMF forces, the fishermen were rescued and safely returned to shore. After five days at sea, this incident could have ended much more tragically.”

HMAS Darwin is currently conducting maritime security and interdiction operations with CMF in support of deterring terrorism and promoting peace and security at sea in the Middle East and Indian Ocean.