USNS Trenton (T-EPF 5) conducted a passenger transfer of 41 people with ships from the Italian Coast Guard off the coast of the island of Lampedusa, Italy, June 17.
Trenton had encountered a vessel carrying 41 illegal immigrants in distress while operating in the Mediterranean Sea, June 12. During the operation, the Trenton crew initially observed approximately 12 bodies in the water that appeared to be unresponsive. The crew prioritized in recovering those who needed immediate help.
Rigid-hull inflatable boats and a fast rescue boat conducted a follow-on search for these bodies, but could not locate them or any additional persons at the scene. If necessary, U.S. Navy ships are able to preserve remains in refrigerated storage.
After bringing them aboard the ship, the Trenton crew cared for their temporary passengers, providing them with food, water, clothing and basic medical care.
“Although it is seldom that we run into people in distress at sea, it is something we plan, practice and prepare for routinely,” said Susan Orsini, ship master aboard Trenton. “A rescue at sea involves all hands aboard the ship. I was so proud and impressed by the thoughtful resourcefulness of all hands on board USNS Trenton; it filled my heart with hope and gratitude.”
“The pivotal role the shore side units and personnel play in a rescue at sea cannot be minimized; the ship cannot do it alone,” said Orsini. “Their efforts involve intense and intricate coordination, timely and critical communications to all units and personnel involved. The reward for our efforts was seeing the rescued personnel transferred, in good spirits and good health, heading to their next destination.”