January 6, 2012
January 6, 2012
A member of the same U.S. aircraft carrier group that Iran has warned not to return to the Strait of Hormuz has rescued 13 Iranians held hostage by pirates in the Arabian Sea, the Pentagon said on Friday.
“The Iranians and the dhow (a traditional vessel) have been released and they’re on their way back home,” said Captain John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman.
He said the U.S. Navy had captured 15 pirates, all believed to be Somali born. They were being held on board the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis, according to Reuters.
The incident was an unexpected twist after days of rising tensions between Iran and the United States, with Tehran issuing threats and warning the Americans not to send the USS John C. Stennis aircraft carrier through the Strait of Hormuz.
But one of the ships accompanying the Stennis, the USS Kidd, came to the rescue Thursday of Iranians on the fishing dhow al-Molai, whose captain issued a call on for help saying “he was being held captive by the pirates,” said the statement from the Fifth Fleet, based in Bahrain, according to AFP.
“The Al Molai 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,” it said.
Prior to Thursday’s rescue, another Iranian vessel, a motor boat, had issued a distress call while under suspected attack from pirates.
A helicopter from another Navy ship also assigned to the Stennis carrier group, the USS Mobile Bay, responded to the call for help, Kirby said.
But the pirates threw objects into the water and “they boarded the skiff and couldn’t detain the pirates because there was no evidence,” he said.