MSC Fleet Oiler Rescues Crew of Sinking Freighter in Gulf of Aden

Image courtesy USN

Published Jun 10, 2021 6:33 PM by The Maritime Executive

On June 7, a U.S. Navy Military Sealift Command fleet oiler rescued the crew of an aging freighter in the Gulf of Aden. 

On Monday, the T-AO USNS Patuxent was notified by the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) watch center that the 30-year-old coastal freighter Falcon Line had lost propulsion and was taking on water.

Patuxent proceeded to the vessel's position at top speed, and she arrived before the ship completely sank. Once on scene, Patuxent created a lee for the crewmembers of the stricken freighter, allowing them to safely board their life rafts. Despite rough surface conditions and strong winds, Patuxent's crew brought all 15 crewmembers aboard. They provided the survivors with food, water and a medical screening. 

Images courtesy USN

U.S. 5th Fleet is working with the owner of the Falcon Line and other authorities to determine the most appropriate location to deliver the crewmembers to shore.

“As professional mariners, our forces have a duty to help those in need at sea,” said Capt. Michael O’Driscoll (USN), commander of Task Force (TF) 53. “The sailors and civilian mariners aboard ships like Patuxent have answered this call before, and they will continue to do so whenever possible.”

Falcon Line was a 1991-built freighter of about 3,200 dwt, owned in Qatar and flagged in Gabon. Her last PSC inspection was conducted in Bandar Abbas in 2020, and inspectors found 18 deficiencies, including issues with her main engine, hatch covers, emergency generator and certificates.