WASHINGTON — The US Navy announced it led a rescue operation to assist the crew of an Iranian fishing vessel in distress in the Gulf of Oman, the third in 10 days in an area marked by tension between Washington and Tehran.
A Seahawk helicopter from the guided missile destroyer USS Dewey spotted an Iranian fishing boat sinking early Wednesday while two other vessels tried to tow it to safety, according to a Navy press release.
One sailor remained on board the sinking boat, called the Al Mamsoor, while two other crew members took refuge on the vessels that came to help.
The helicopter stayed overhead while the USS Dewey joined the rescue operation.
"Once we talked with their captain, it was clear that they needed food and water," said Navy Lieutenant Jason Dawson, the leader of the rescue team.
The Al Mamsoor crew had fought flooding for three days before abandoning their vessel, the Navy statement said.
The rescue team gave the crew about 150 pounds of food, water and other supplies before returning to the Dewey.
On January 7, a Navy destroyer rescued 13 Iranian fishermen who were being held hostage by Somali pirates.
The guided missile destroyer USS Kidd made the rescue after one of the kidnapped fishermen revealed in a radio communication that pirates held his vessel's crew captive.
The destroyer is one of the US warships the Iranian government has warned to stay out of the Strait of Hormuz, which is used by ships that carry about one-fifth of the world's oil supply.
On January 11, the US Navy rescued six Iranian merchant marines from a sinking cargo ship in the North Persian Gulf.
Despite Iranian threats to close the Strait of Hormuz, Washington has pledged to maintain its warships in the area. The Dewey is an aircraft carrier escort ship that Tehran has threatened with reprisals.
The Iranian government threatened to close the Strait in retaliation for economic sanctions by Western nations against Tehran's suspect nuclear program.