Rescue boat carrying migrants from off the coast of Libya.
The journey of a ship carrying 600 migrants
02:31 - Source: CNN
Washington CNN  — 

A US Navy ship rescued 40 migrants off the coast of Libya Tuesday, according to US military officials.

The expeditionary fast transport ship “USNS Trenton, in accordance with its obligations under international law, rendered assistance to mariners in distress that it encountered while conducting routine operations in the Mediterranean Sea,” US Navy Lt. Cmdr. Amelia Umayam, a spokesperson for US Sixth Fleet told CNN in a statement.

“Forty people have been recovered and are being provided food, water, and medical care on board Trenton. US authorities are coordinating with our international partners to determine their ultimate disposition,” she added.

Two US officials said the incident involved migrants that were in the waters off of Libya.

Sea Watch, a Germany based non-governmental organization that attempts to aid migrants journeying to Europe, issued a series of tweets saying its vessel was responding to the situation, which the organization said took place 20 miles off the coast of Libya.

Sea Watch and one US official said that several of the migrants died prior to being rescued and that the NGO and the US Navy were awaiting word as to whether they could bring the survivors to Italy.

The issue of migration to Europe and rescues at sea has become a major issue in Italy with the new government in Rome refusing to allow an NGO ship to bring rescued migrants to Italy on Sunday.