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News | July 25, 2019

USS Michael Murphy Provides Aid to Stranded Mariners

By Petty Officer 2nd Class Justin Pacheco

PACIFIC OCEAN -- The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Michael Murphy (DDG 112) rescued distressed mariners at sea, July 24. 

While conducting routine operations in the U.S. 4th Fleet area of operations Michael Murphy spotted a small vessel with individuals aboard waving flags in distress. 

Five Peruvian mariners were aboard the fishing boat, which had suffered engine failure off the coast of Peru before drifting for more than eight days. The vessel was located 80 nautical miles off the Ecuadorian coast. 

The boat was initially observed by Ens. Adrienne Wang while standing watch as the Junior Officer of the Deck, and Ens. Alex Misenheimer as the Officer of the Deck. The vessel was confirmed by Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class Ryan Buck using the ship’s optical sighting system, and Boatswain’s Mate 3rd Class Devansh Mehta and Boatswain’s Mate Seaman Samuel Torres, who were on watch in the pilot house. 

Michael Murphy’s boarding team, including Command Master Chief Jose Ramiro, Chief Master-at-Arms Glenn Rakowski, search-and-rescue swimmer Chief Operations Specialist Peter Lancieri, Boat Officer Ens. Bernardo Martinez, and Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Philip Trent were quickly dispatched to assess the situation. 

The fishermen were provided food, water and repairs to their engine, having run short on food five days prior, and were on their third day without fresh water. 

“Today’s events provided us an opportunity to render assistance to fellow mariners in need,” said Cmdr. Christopher Forch, Commanding Officer aboard Michael Murphy. “Our training and capabilities allowed us to quickly assess the situation, plan the rescue operation, and care for these fishermen who found themselves adrift for a significant period of time. A chance encounter at sea resulted in the preservation of five lives.” 

Machinist’s Mates were later dispatched to the boat to provide mechanical assistance, but lacked the parts needed to make necessary repairs. The fishermen were transferred to Michael Murphy while their boat was rigged to be towed. Commander, 4th Fleet’s team assisted in making arrangements to have the fishing vessel towed to Ecuadorian waters for a successful turnover with the Ecuadorian Coast Guard.

Assisting mariners in distress is the responsibility of all vessels at sea, even warships. 

Michael Murphy is currently deployed to the U.S. 4th Fleet area of operations, following its participation in UNITAS LX and Teamwork South 2019 in Valparaiso, Chile, from June 24-July 3.