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Navy Rescues Iraqi Fishermen

Aired March 13, 2003 - 14:02   ET


DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, with this potential war hanging out there, a story of a humanitarian act by the sailors of the USS Constellation.
Our Frank Buckley is on board the USS Constellation. It is floating out there somewhere in the Persian Gulf. He's going to join us by phone right now to tell us about an unexpected rescue mission -- Frank, hello.

FRANK BUCKLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Daryn. We just heard from Commodore Mark Balmert, who is aboard the USS Constellation here that a U.S. Navy frigate, the USS Gary, just within the past three hours has picked up eight Iraqi fishermen whose boat capsized in the southern Persian Gulf.

The USS Gary received a distress call from this fishing vessel, which was in the southern Persian Gulf -- just off the coast of Iran. The Gary sent a rescue swimmer and a team aboard a small rib (ph) boat, and as the rescue was taking place, the boat capsized. Three Iraqis went into the water at that point, but they were recovered. We're told that all eight of the fishermen who were aboard this fishing vessel, Iraqi-flagged fishing vessel, were rescued by the U.S. Navy. We're told that they are being treated like any other mariner at sea, being given the same courtesies. They will be given medical attention, food, dry clothes. We're told they're simply happy to be aboard a ship now rather than in the Persian Gulf in the water. At some point, arrangements will be made to transfer those men back to Iraq. So eight Iraqi fishermen rescued by the U.S. Navy here just within the past three hours -- Daryn.

KAGAN: Any exact word on their condition, Frank?

BUCKLEY: Yes, their condition apparently good. It was interesting. We're told that they -- there was a language problem, even though they were able to get off the idea, that yes, we're in distress and that the USS Gary was able to respond to that. They couldn't speak English that well. It wasn't clear what -- where these fishermen were from. Apparently, at one point, they were given a book that had pictures of different flags and these fishermen pointed to the Iraqi flag, and that's how the U.S. Navy realized that these were Iraqi fishermen.

KAGAN: Interesting way to communicate, and it would be interesting to hear later how the American sailors were able to communicate that they were to help -- they were there to help, and not hurt the Iraqi fishermen. Very interesting story from the Persian Gulf there. Frank Buckley aboard the USS Constellation. TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT

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