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SOUTH CHINA SEA - The Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Mustin (DDG 89) rendered assistance to two distressed mariners, June 26, whose fishing boat had suffered an engine malfunction, rendering the vessel inoperable.
Mustin was conducting a routine patrol on June 26 in the vicinity of the Philippines when watch standers sighted a fishing vessel with two Filipino fishermen onboard frantically waving.
After pulling alongside and communicating with the fishermen in Tagalog, it was determined the fishing vessel had engine trouble and was unable to stay with their fellow fishermen or return to shore. The two fishermen had water onboard, but no food, and were unable to communicate with local coast guard.
The Mustin crew provided immediate assistance. They first contacted one of the nearby fishing vessels to relay the mariners’ situation. They then deployed their rigid hull inflatable boat (RHIB) and towed the adrift fishing vessel to rejoin their fellow fishermen.
"The Mustin nation feels very fortunate to have been at the right place at the right time in order to provide assistance to fellow mariners while underway conducting routine operations in the South China Sea. I couldn't be prouder of my Sailors’ ability to safely and professionally assist our fellow mariners at sea,” said Cmdr. Warren Smith, Mustin's commanding officer. “That pride extends from my bridge watch officers who spotted the Filipino mariners in the distance indicating distress by waving their shirts over their heads, to our Tagalog speakers who could break through the language barrier to determine the extent of the distress, and finally to my small boat team for their ability to tow the fishing boat to safety during heavy rain, lightning, and thunderstorms."
The Filipino-American watch standers on Mustin said they were fortunate to be on the bridge when the banca, a small local fishing vessel, was spotted. They were grateful to be able to provide translation when Mustin went alongside.
"I was glad to be at the right place and at the right time. As luck would have it, I was already on the bridge and was able to help with the language barrier using the ship's announcing system,” said Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Nicasio Bone. “It is the right thing to do to help people in distress and if anyone was put in the same position as me, they would bring the same help. I was really impressed by how the ship came together at the end of a long day to help these two fishermen; it seemed natural to do."
"It was fortunate that we saw the banca when we did. Based on the conversation that they had with us, the fishermen had no radio, no way of contacting the coast guard, and were relying on the luck of finding other people out at sea for help," said Boatswain's Mate 3rd Class Arleen Castro.
After ensuring the distressed fishing vessel and its crew were safely back with other Filipino fishing vessels, the Mustin crew provided three days of food and resumed their routine patrol. Mustin is forward-deployed to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations in support of security and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.