(NEW YORK) — U.S. Navy ensign Adrienne Wang was standing watch on the guided-missile destroyer USS Michael Murphy when he spotted something out of the ordinary: a small boat with people waving flags in distress.
When the Murphy dispatched a team to assess the vessel on Wednesday, they found five Peruvian fishermen who had been adrift for more than eight days after their boat suffered engine failure off the coast of Peru.
The fishermen were 80 nautical miles off the Ecuadorian coast, the U.S. Navy said.
The American sailors brought food and water to the fishermen, who were on their fifth day without food and third day without fresh water.
Without the necessary parts to replace the fishing boat’s engine, the sailors of the Murphy brought the fishermen aboard the destroyer and made arrangements for their boat to be towed to Ecuadorian waters and transferred to the Ecuadorian Coast Guard.
“Today’s events provided us an opportunity to render assistance to fellow mariners in need,” said Cmdr. Christopher Forch, the Murphy’s commanding officer, in a statement. “Our training and capabilities allowed us to quickly assess the situation, plan the rescue operation, and care for these fishermen who found themselves adrift for a significant period of time.”
“A chance encounter at sea resulted in the preservation of five lives,” he said.
Assisting mariners in distress is the responsibility of all vessels at sea, including warships, the Navy said.
At the time the Murphy discovered the fishermen, the destroyer was conducting routine operations in the Pacific following a exercise off the coast of Chile earlier this month.
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