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INDIAN OCEAN - San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS Anchorage (LPD 23) rendered assistance and provided aid to the crew of a stranded Sri Lankan-flagged fishing vessel, M/V Lakshan, Nov. 4 at 12:30 p.m. local time.
Watchstanders spotted six mariners aboard the vessel waving articles of clothing in an attempt to get the attention of the U.S. Navy ship as Anchorage was transiting through the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations. The commanding officer aboard Anchorage, Capt. J.J. Cummings, ordered the dispatch of a rescue and assistance team, which determined Lakshan had experienced a crank case explosion, leaving both engines unworkable and beyond at-sea repair. The fishing vessel had been at sea without power for one day when the fishing vessel's crew hailed the crew of Anchorage for assistance.
The rescue and assistance team delivered food, water and car batteries to power the stranded vessel temporarily to the crew of Lakshan. M/V Beyanara, roughly 165 nautical miles away at the time of Anchorage's arrival on station, was dispatched for assistance by the fishing vessel's parent company. Anchorage remained on station until their arrival.
Beyanara arrived the afternoon of Nov. 5, at which point the crew aboard Beyanara assumed on-scene commander responsibilities from Anchorage's commanding officer, and is now in the process of towing the vessel and crew back to land.
"Once our rescue and assist team determined the vessel was dead in the water and 300 miles from land with no food or water, it was obvious that the crew was facing a life or death situation," said Cummings. "Giving them assistance became our number one priority, and we were not going anywhere until we had full confidence that the crew was safe. Our Sailors instantly flexed from underway operations to mariner assistance, and it was a beautiful thing to watch."
"This event stands as testimony to what lengths our nation will go to help complete strangers and the remarkable professionalism of the Anchorage Sailors," continued Cummings. "Our bridge wing lookouts, who were the first to spot their distress signal, literally saved the lives of these mariners in distress."
Anchorage is assigned to the Essex Amphibious Ready Group, commanded by Capt. Clint Carroll. The Essex ARG, and embarked 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, is deployed in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations.