The amphibious assault ship Bataan rescued 282 people June 7 in the Mediterranean after receiving a distress call. (2C Nathan Schaeffer / Navy)
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A Navy ship with Marines aboard became a rescue craft in the Mediterranean, coming to the aid of passengers aboard a sinking boat.
The amphibious assault ship Bataan rescued 282 people June 7 in the Mediterranean after receiving a distress call. According to a Navy news release, an Italian military marine patrol aircraft spotted the sinking boat June 6 and alerted the Bataan and another Navy ship, the frigate Elrod.
According to Marine Capt. Eric Flanagan, there were 1,000 Marines attached to the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit aboard the Bataan when it performed the rescue.
Once the Bataan received the call, it launched two MH-60S Seahawk search-and-rescue helicopters to investigate. When the choppers saw the sinking boat, they deployed trained swimmers to start extracting people from the water. The Elrod also sent inflatable boats to rescue passengers.
Navy officials said the boat’s passengers were likely African refugees on their way to Italy.
The ship transferred 277 of the sinking boat’s passengers to troops aboard Maltese patrol boat and sent five more to Malta via medevac. The Bataan also provided food, water, medical attention, and temporary shelter, according to releases.
The Bataan recently moved into the Mediterranean at the end of May to stand at the ready in the event of an evacuation of American personnel from Libya amid rising instability.
We will have more on this developing story.