US Navy helps stranded Iranian sailors in Gulf

A U.S. naval ship came to the aid of two stranded Iranian sailors in the early hours of the morning Thursday in the Persian Gulf, providing food and water until the arrival of the Iranian coast guard.

The U.S. Navy was notified by a merchant vessel of the two stranded sailors in a life raft after an emergency flare was seen and the U.S.S. Oscar Austin was sent to provide help, said a statement issued by the Bahrain-based U.S. Fifth Fleet.

The sailors were found just about 1,000 yards (1 kilometer) outside Iranian territorial waters at 5 a.m. local time and were provided food and water. The U.S. Navy contacted Iranian authorities via neighboring Oman.

The mariners said their fishing boat had sunk the night before and they did not know about the whereabouts of the other crewmembers.

An Iranian Coast Guard ship showed up just past noon, took the two men aboard and thanked the U.S. Navy for its help, said the statement.

"We're glad that we were able to coordinate the rescue of the mariners with the Iranian Coast Guard," said Lt. Cmdr. Steve Ansuinni of the Fifth Fleet in the statement.

In August, an aircraft carrier from the fleet rescued eight Iranian fisherman after their boat caught fire in the nearby Arabian sea.

Seagoing exchanges, often of a more tense nature, between U.S. and Iranian vessels are not uncommon in the crowded Gulf shipping lanes, especially near the Strait of Hormuz where Iran's coastline is within miles (kilometers) of international waters.