U.S. warship rescues Iranian mariners from burning vessel

Reuters News
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Posted: Aug 09, 2012 6:05 PM
U.S. warship rescues Iranian mariners from burning vessel

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. guided-missile destroyer rescued 10 Iranian seamen from a burning dhow in the Gulf of Oman and was providing them with medical care while working to coordinate their return home, the U.S. Navy said on Thursday.

Crew members from the USS James E. Williams rescued the mariners on Wednesday after they were forced to abandon their burning vessel. The dhow was flying an Iranian flag and all the crew members said they were Iranian, the Navy said.

The Iranian seamen were receiving medical treatment aboard the destroyer while awaiting transfer to the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise, which was coordinating their repatriation, the Navy said.

U.S. warships have rendered aid to Iranian mariners in the region on several different occasions over the past year, despite escalating tensions over Tehran's nuclear program and sometimes threatening rhetoric between the two countries.

The USS John C. Stennis aircraft carrier strike group rescued 13 Iranian fishermen in January who had been held hostage by suspected Somali pirates for more than a month.

That rescue happened just days after Iran warned the carrier not to return the Gulf. U.S. carriers have entered and departed the Gulf since then without incident.

The United States has led an international effort to impose ever tighter sanctions on Iran over its nuclear enrichment program, which Washington believes is for weapons purposes but Tehran insists is for energy.

(Reporting By David Alexander; editing by Christopher Wilson)