Amid growing tension between the US and Iran, the US Navy vessel U.S.S. Kidd rescued 13 Iranian sailors who were held captive by Somali pirates for more than 40 days. The dramatic rescue occurred just days after Iranian commanders ordered US navy ships not to return to the North Arabian Sea. The extraordinary rescue also follows President Obama’s signing of tough new sanctions against Iran, making it harder for Iran to sell its oil.
The irony is not lost on the fact that in the midst of such an international crisis with Iran over their nuclear program, 13 Iranian sailors were “delivered” by the US Navy. As tension and words escalate between the countries, this story shows the power of humanitarian efforts in the face of government conflict.
Further irony is that the commander of the US Navy vessel who saved them is a woman, Cmdr. Jennifer L. Ellinger. Can’t imagine the faces of the Iranian captives saying goodbye to their female liberator! Without a doubt the male and female crew of the U.S.S. Kidd demonstrated excellence and set an example for all. Among all the negative press and suspicions in the region, this story offers a bit of hope and happiness.
In an interview with Iran’s official Arabic-language broadcaster on Saturday, the foreign minister said, “We consider the actions of the U.S. forces in saving the lives of the Iranian seamen to be a humanitarian and positive act, and we welcome such behavior.”
It was widely reported that the Iranians “greeted the American sailors with wide-eyed relief.” “It is like you were sent by God,” said one of the rescued fishermen, Fazel Ur Rehman, 28, huddled under a blanket in the vessel’s stern. He said “Every night we prayed for God to rescue us. And now you are here.”
The U.S.S. Kidd is conducting counter-piracy and maritime security operations in the gulf. Somali pirates plague this area, making passage increasingly dangerous.
On Friday, the Iranian crew of the fishing vessel were given medical attention and were provided with food. As they left for home, the Iranians hugged some of their rescuers (see above photo) and proudly wore their U.S.S. Kidd baseball caps home. I only wonder what will happen to them at home in Iran for such actions. What will happen to them for merely acting like a human, showing their gratitude? And will they get to keep their U.S.S. Kidd baseball hats?