USS ARDENT (NNS) -- While conducting maritime security operations (MSO) in the Persian Gulf March 6, USS Ardent (MCM 12) responded to a distress call by an Iraqi-owned commercial vessel.
Ardent arrived on scene after the crew of Motor Vessel Gulf Queen reported via bridge-to-bridge radio that the vessel was dead-in-the-water, with no topside or navigational lighting visible. The Avenger-class mine countermeasures ship deployed two rescue and assistance (RNA) teams, which performed a security sweep of the crippled ship and conducted an assessment of its electrical and engineering conditions as well as the welfare of the crew.
According to Engineman 2nd Class (SW) John Porter, Gulf Queen’s engine equipment was extremely degraded.
“The ship had no means to repair itself due to the lack of personnel, technical knowledge and few spare parts,” said Porter, from Salina, Kan.
At the time of the initial boarding, the Ardent RNA teams determined the ship was still seaworthy, but reported the vessel’s battery power was critically depleted. The team also discovered a crack in the hull which caused flooding in some of the vessel’s main spaces.
Due to a loss in electrical power, Ardent’s engineering support team was unable to utilize Gulf Queen’s main drainage; therefore, Ardent provided two P-100 dewatering pumps to assist in the drainage.
“The amount of oil, fuel and exhaust leaks was a serious fire hazard and extremely unsafe for personnel to work around,” Porter said.
The Navy worked through the Marine Emergency Mutual Aid Center (MEMAC) in Kuwait to contact Gulf Queen’s owner to arrange for safe towage. MEMAC is an international organization among all Arab countries set up specifically to facilitate international cooperation in response to vessels in distress.
Ardent remained on station for three days, providing support until the owner of the vessel could arrange for a tug boat to arrive to tow the damaged vessel to Iraq. During the course of the three-day assist, Ardent Sailors also supplied the Gulf Queen crew with food and fresh water. During that time, Ardent crew members also continued to dewater the ship in order to keep it from sinking.
“The [Gulf Queen] crew was very appreciative of our assistance and were very happy to see us every day,” said Hull Technician 1st Class(SW) Orlando Garcia, from Pharr, Texas. “The ship’s master made a comment that he wished we were part of his crew.”
Ardent Commanding Officer Lt. Cmdr. Philip Sobeck said his well-trained Sailors did an outstanding job during the assist.
“This is ‘Maritime Security 101,’” said the Boyertown, Penn., native. “We were fortunate to be at the right place at the right time to assist. [The crew’s] first reaction was based on training and a whole lot of motivation.”
The Ardent crew, homeported in Ingleside, Texas, and forward deployed to Manama, Bahrain, is currently underway assisting with MSO in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations. MSO set the conditions for security and stability in the maritime environment as well as complement the counter-terrorism and security efforts of regional nations. These operations deny international terrorists use of the maritime environment as a venue for attack or to transport personnel, weapons, or other material.