The U.S. Navy announced Friday it had rescued 13 Iranian fishermen being held by Somali pirates in the Arabian Sea, despite rising tensions between the U.S. and Iran.
An SH-60S Seahawk from the guided-missile destroyer USS Kidd detected the pirates while a simultaneous distress call was received from the Al Molai fishing vessel.
Video depicts a team from the Kidd boarding the ship Thursday and then detaining 15 suspected pirates who had been holding a 13-member Iranian crew hostage for several weeks.
"The Al Molai had been taken over by pirates for roughly the last 40 to 45 days," said Josh Schminky, a Navy Criminal Investigative Service agent aboard the Kidd. "They were held hostage, with limited rations, and we believe were forced against their will to assist the pirates with other piracy operations."
The Navy reports that Iranian boat had been pirated and used as a "mother ship" for pirate operations throughout the Persian Gulf, according to members of the Iranian vessel's crew.
"When we boarded, we gave them food, water, and medical care," Schminky said. "They had been through a lot. We went out of our way to treat the fishing crew with kindness and respect."
The pirates were detained until transferred to the USS John C. Stennis, where the matter will be reviewed for prosecution.
"The captain of the Al Molai expressed his sincere gratitude that we came to assist them. He was afraid that without our help, they could have been there for months," Schminky said.
During a conference call about the Iranian pirate rescue mission Rear Admiral Craig S. Faller, Commander, Carrier Strike Group Three, had some strong words for Iran in response to its threats to close down the Strait of Hormuz.
"The United States and the United States Navy won’t tolerate the Strait of Hormuz being closed and I can assure you that the Carrier Strike Group has the full range of capabilities, combat capabilities, capabilities that we exercise and train every day. And we are ready to use those capabilities if the need arises."
Earlier this week the U.S. responded to an Iranian military leader's warning to keep an American carrier out of the Persian Gulf, declaring that the U.S. will continue efforts in the region.