Eight sailors who abandoned their sinking ship have been safely plucked from the sea following a 30 hour search involving two international organisations and six nations.
The chances of finding people lost at sea in an area of more than 2,100 square nautical miles are extremely low, but New Zealand-led Combined Task Force-151 (CTF-151), a Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) task group, achieved success this weekend. CTF-151 staff, based in Bahrain, coordinated a search effort involving the European Union Naval Force (EUNAVFOR), as well as ships from the United Kingdom, Turkey and Japan and aircraft from Germany and Japan.
After receiving a distress call from sinking merchant vessel Al Hasani on 19 November, British warship HMS Defender raised the alarm with CMF, a 30-nation partnership conducting counter-piracy and maritime security operations in the Middle East, and the EUNAVFOR, also conducting counter-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden. EUNAVFOR responded first, re-tasking a German P3 Orion Maritime Patrol Reconnaissance Aircraft which located the sinking ship and spotted eight people in the water without life jackets. Step in New Zealand-led CTF-151, which assumed control of the search and rescue effort and began to coordinate support from the Yemen Rescue Coordination Centre, Turkish Frigate TCG Gemlik, Japanese warship JS Takanami, and Japanese P3 Orion Maritime Patrol Reconnaissance Aircraft. After 30 hours, the eight men were finally rescued at 9pm on 20 November.
Commodore Tony Millar of the Royal New Zealand Navy and currently Commander of CTF 151 said:
“I am delighted that the crew of MV Al Hasani were safely rescued from the sea. A massive vote of thanks goes to the units and nations who supported the search and rescue operation, however it was the Yemeni Rescue Coordination Centre who really stepped up to the plate on this one, arranging for local civilian craft to assist in the search, without whom the operation could have resulted in tragedy.”
CTF-151 is a multinational task force which conducts counter-piracy operations in and around the Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea, Indian Ocean and the Red Sea. The aim is to deter, disrupt and prevent acts of piracy.
Commodore Millar added:
“This successful rescue demonstrates CMF’s ability to assist in all types of maritime operations in the Middle East and off Africa. The key achievement here, though, was the way in which international organisations and regional powers worked together to save the lives of the sailors involved.”