On March 30th in the early morning just off the island of Masirah (Oman), the cargo bulk carrier ‘Atlantic Confidence’, Liberian flag, reported to have a fire in the engine room and requested assistance. Upon receiving the message, Admiral Antonio Natale, Commander of the NATO Task Force engaged in the fight against piracy off the Horn of Africa, promptly ordered the nearest vessel under his command, the frigate USS Nicholas to proceed at maximum speed and assist.
Some minutes later, the Captain of ‘Atlantic Confidence’ ordered his crew of 21 Turkish seamen to abandon ship; assessing that the fire was now out of control.
The U.S. Frigate took command of the rescue operation and dispatched its helicopter to cover the 80 miles to the vessel and assess the immediate needs. Upon reaching the scene it saw that the merchant vessel was already partially sunk but still floating.
After verifying that the survivors appeared to be safely in life-boats and did not need immediate medical assistance, the NATO ship coordinated the embarcation operations on board an oil tanker called ‘Pluto’ transiting in the area and also manned entirely by a Turkish crew. ‘Pluto’ assisted in providing safe onward passage for all the survivors.
Admiral Natale IT Navy said that: “Once again we were able to provide timely assistance to a merchant vessel in trouble. NATO’s role here is to patrol these busy waters to counter the threat of Somali piracy, but aid in case of emergency is historically the first mission of every good sailor and we were more than happy to provide timely assistance.”
NATO, April 3, 2013