USNS Trenton Assists Adrift Migrants


August 2018


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SIU CIVMARS recently assisted in a dramatic rescue at sea.


On June 12, SIU Government Services Division members leapt into action to aid 41 men and women while sailing aboard the USNS Trenton in the Mediterranean Sea. The crew of the Trenton, a Spearheadclass expeditionary fast transport vessel, rescued the group of maritime migrants from an inflatable raft off the coast of Libya, using two rigid-hull inflatable boats (RHIBs) and one fast rescue boat to facilitate the transit. The survivors were then provided with food, water, clothing and medical care aboard the Trenton.


However, due to the complicated political situation between Mediterranean countries concerning migrants, this rescue was far from over.


Once the rescued migrants were safely aboard, according to the U.S. Navy, “The Trenton asked the NGO rescue vessel Sea-Watch 3 to take the survivors on board for transfer to a safe harbor. Sea- Watch 3 agreed, but the transfer did not occur, and … the Trenton got under way for Augusta, Sicily to bring the survivors to shore.”


After six days aboard the vessel, the rescued migrants were transferred to Italian Coast Guard ships off the coast of Lampedusa, and the Trenton resumed her normal operations. “


Although it is seldom that we run into people in distress at sea, it is something we plan, practice and prepare for routinely,” said Susan Orsini, ship master aboard the Trenton. “A rescue at sea involves all hands aboard the ship. I was so proud and impressed by the thoughtful resourcefulness of all hands on board USNS Trenton; it filled my heart with hope and gratitude.” She added, “The pivotal role the shore side units and personnel play in a rescue at sea cannot be minimized; the ship cannot do it alone. Their efforts involve intense and intricate coordination, timely and critical communications to all units and personnel involved. The reward for our efforts was seeing the rescued personnel transferred, in good spirits and good health, heading to their next destination.”


The Trenton, a 338-foot-long aluminum catamaran, is capable of transporting 600 short tons 1,200 nautical miles at an average speed of 35 knots, with berthing space for up to 104 personnel and airlinestyle seating for up to 312. It can operate in a variety of roles to include supporting overseas contingency operations, conducting humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, supporting special operations forces and supporting emerging joint sea-basing concepts.






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