U.S., Spain, Morocco collaborate to conduct rescue at sea

The crew of the USCGC Thetis and a Royal Moroccan Navy vessel are seen during the joint rescue of migrants in the Atlantic Ocean on Jan. 5, 2021. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Ade Gills)

The crew of the USCGC Thetis and a Royal Moroccan Navy vessel are seen during the joint rescue of migrants in the Atlantic Ocean on Jan. 5, 2021. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Ade Gills)

ATLANTIC OCEAN — On Jan. 5, 2022, the United States, Spain, and Morocco collaborated to rescue 103 migrants 40 nautical miles west of the Moroccan coast.

Late Tuesday evening, Spain’s Las Palmas Rescue Coordination Center received reports of two migrant rafts taking on water with people possibly in the water.

The Spanish center coordinated rescue efforts with the vessels closest to the reported location of the rafts. Three U.S. Coast Guard ships, Famous-class Coast Guard Cutter Thetis (WMEC 910), Sentinel-class Coast Guard Cutter Glen Harris (WPC 1144), and Coast Guard Cutter Emlen Tunnell (WPC 1145), and a nearby Royal Moroccan Navy frigate answered the call.

Working together, the crews rescued 103 migrants and recovered two deceased migrants by early Wednesday morning. Once safely aboard and stabilized, the U.S. Coast Guard crews transferred all migrants to the Moroccan Navy.

“While we are on an escort currently, the U.S. Coast Guard will always conduct our core mission of search and rescue and observe the international law of the sea and maritime custom to assist any mariners in distress,” said Cmdr. Justin Nadolny, commanding officer, USCGC Thetis (WMEC 910). “This demonstrates the capability of Thetis to work with partners and our ability to respond rapidly to any situation. I’m very proud of the team.”

The U.S. Coast Guard is conducting a routine deployment in the U.S. Sixth Fleet area of operations, working alongside Allies, building maritime domain awareness, and sharing best practices with partner nation navies and coast guards. These operations coincide with the escort of the Sentinel-class cutters across the Atlantic en route to their new homeport of Manama, Bahrain, and the cutters’ work for U.S. Patrol Forces Southwest Asia under U.S. Navy 5th Fleet and U.S. Central Command.

“The rescue of over 100 persons in the Atlantic demonstrates the agility and reach of U.S. Naval Forces throughout Africa and Europe,” said Capt. Kyle Gantt, Commander, Task Force 65. “U.S. Coast Guard’s timely coordination with Spanish authorities and the Moroccan Navy showcases the power of integration with our international partners at sea.”

The U.S. Coast Guard remains operational during COVID-19, following all COVID-19 safety precautions and regulations.

U.S. Sixth Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied and interagency partners, to advance U.S. national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa. Based in Portsmouth, Virginia, U.S. Coast Guard Atlantic Area oversees all Coast Guard operations east of the Rocky Mountains to the Arabian Gulf. In addition to surge operations, they also allocate ships to work with partner commands.

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