Mesa Verde Provides Assistance to Moroccan Mariners

24 Jan 2012 | By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW/AW) Josue L. Escobosa, USS Mesa Verde Public Affairs 2nd Marine Logistics Group

USS MESA VERDE, At Sea (NNS) -- Sailors and Marines aboard USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19) provided assistance to ten Morrocan mariners whose vessel had capsized three days earlier in the Mediterranean Sea, Jan. 24.

The mariners' vessel had capsized in rough seas leaving them without food or water for three days until members from Mesa Verde rescued them via a rigid hull inflatable boat.

"The Mesa Verde Sailors responded professionally, quickly and efficiently," said Ensign Matthew Colpitts, the boat officer. "They did exactly what we train to do. The crew impressed me more than anything; we had to turn crew members away that wanted to help, there was just too many people asking to lend a hand in whatever way they could."

After the stranded Moroccans were brought aboard, they were immediately taken to the ship's medical ward where they were examined and treated for hypothermia and dehydration.

"As soon as our lookouts saw the capsized vessel we had response teams manning up within seconds," Cmdr. John K. Reilley, USS Mesa Verde commanding officer. "It only took an hour and a half from the time we first saw them, to our recovery on board the ship. We couldn't have asked for a better response from our blue and green team."

The Mesa Verde boasts a medical ward, intensive care unit and an operating room. The ship also has a shock and trauma team, fleet surgical team, and several well-trained hospital corpsmen.

"I'm incredibly proud of all of the Sailors and Marines today," said Hospital Corpsman 1st Class (FMF/SW) Shannon Kirby. "Our training paid off and when it was time to go, we all responded swiftly and professionally."

According to the mariners, other ships in the area had passed by and not offered assistance.

"The Moroccan sailors thanked us all profusely," said Cpl. Aaron Payne, a translator. "They credited us with being the only ones willing to help them when most others just passed them by."

The mariners were later transferred to the Spanish coast guard.

The Mesa Verde is deployed as part of the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and deployed from her homeport of Norfolk, Va., March 23. The Mesa Verde has spent the past 10 months supporting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility, and is returning home after having been relieved by the Makin Island ARG.