USS Higgins. U.S. Navy Photo by Photographer’s Mate 2nd Class Frederick McCahan

Sailors aboard the deployed San Diego-based guided- missile destroyer USS Higgins today aided the crew of a burning fishing vessel in the Arabian Sea.

The Higgins spotted the vessel on the horizon and arrived to find it engulfed in flames and members of its crew in the water clinging to debris.

Sailors from the Higgins, which left San Diego July 6, rode out to the distressed vessel in rigid-hull inflatable boats and rescued the four-person crew. After the crew was delivered to the ship, hospital corpsmen examined them while the ship’s rescue and assistance team provided them with food and water.

None of the crewmen were injured.

“This was a terrific demonstration of the Navy’s ability to render assistance to those in need,” said Chief Hospital Corpsman Frank Gonzalez, a San Diego native. “It gave me a deep sense of accomplishment knowing I could help (others) while being deployed.”

Higgins delivered the crewmen to local authorities so they could be returned ashore.

“Higgins is fully capable to perform a full spectrum of operations,” said Cmdr. Allen Johnson, the commanding officer. “It is the duty of any professional maritime force to render assistance when needed, and we were upholding that responsibility.”

The 16-year-old ship is named for Marine Col. William “Rich” Higgins, a Vietnam veteran who was kidnapped by terrorists in 1988 in Lebanon and later killed.

— City News Service 

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