A routine patrol for a warship turned into a lifeline for Somali sailors stranded in a skiff that had been floating for seven days.

Japanese warship JS Teruzuki approached the vessel to offer assistance early on Wednesday 21 June, in international waters north of Berbera. In a Sea State 4, the skiff had no fuel and the sailors had already run out of food and water.

Under command of Combined Task Force 151 (CTF151), JS Teruzuki and South Korean warship ROKS Dae Jo Yeong liaised to get supplies of gasoline to the skiff. Meanwhile, the sailors were given food and drink. Despite the combined efforts of the crews, the skiff’s engines were unable to restart and the decision was made by the Japanese to tow the stricken vessel into territorial waters to meet a Somali Coast Guard tug.

Commenting on international cooperation, Rear Admiral Tatsuya Fukuda JMSDF, Commander CTF151, said: “South Korean and Japanese warships have worked together closely in CTF151 for many years, but this was the first time Japan and Somalia had interacted in this way.”

Following the rescue, he added: “This incident demonstrates the important role played by warships in protecting the safety of life at sea of all mariners. We were happy to help.”