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USS Hawes Assists Distressed Dhow

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS070226-01
Release Date: 2/26/2007 8:41:00 AM

By Ens. Dan Guinn, USS Hawes Public Affairs

USS HAWES, At Sea (NNS) -- USS Hawes (FFG 53) assisted a merchant vessel in distress Feb. 19 while conducting maritime security operations (MSO) in the 5th Fleet area of operations.

Two SH-60B helicopters from embarked Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light (HSL) 42, or “Proud Warriors,” encountered the Yemeni-flagged dhow, which had been adrift for four days due to engine trouble, and was low on food.

“At first we didn’t know what to think,” said Aviation Warfare Systems Operator 2nd Class Jose Smith. “But we soon realized that they needed our assistance.”

Hawes quickly approached the dhow and launched its visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) team to investigate. The dhow’s crew immediately invited the team on board to render assistance.

“It was great to hear them say how much they loved America,” said Boatswain’s Mate Seaman Brian Burris, boarding team member. “They really appreciated us being there.”

Despite the language barrier, the boarding team was able to identify the issue with the vessel’s engine and complete repairs. The dhow’s crew members were running extremely low on provisions and had begun eating raw fish stored on rapidly melting ice.

Within four hours after the initial contact, the VBSS team charged the dhow’s batteries, repaired electrical wiring and fixed the dhow’s bilge pump, which subsequently removed a foot of water from its bilge. Additionally, Hawes supplied the dhow’s crew with food and fresh water.

“We never know what kind of curve ball MSO will toss us,” said Hawe’s Commanding Officer Cmdr. Chuck Marks. “This is why we’re here; to help make sure regional waters are safe.”

As part of MSO, coalition forces have a long standing tradition of helping mariners in distress by providing medical assistance, engineering assistance and search and rescue efforts. MSO help set the conditions for security and stability in the maritime environment, as well as complement the counter-terrorism and security efforts of regional nations. These operations deny international terrorists use of the maritime environment as a venue for attack or to transport personnel, weapons or other material.

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