USS San Antonio rescues 128 people in central Mediterranean Sea

Posted at 4:42 PM, Oct 16, 2013
and last updated 2013-10-16 19:56:11-04

Mediterranean Distress Call(CNN) — A U.S. Navy crew rescued more than 100 men from a raft in rough water in the central Mediterranean on Wednesday, the service said.

The news release said 128 men ranged in age from 20 to 30 and were taken aboard the USS San Antonio, an amphibious transport dock ship.

A patrol aircraft from Malta spotted the raft being rocked by winds and waves. The San Antonio, which was 60 nautical miles away, answered a call from the Maltese government.

The Navy crew used two 11-person boats to rescue the men from the raft, which was about 75 nautical miles southwest of Malta, according to Maltese officials.

The Navy didn’t say whether anyone was injured. The Maltese military said the men were migrants from Somalia.

A Maltese military statement said the men would be taken to Maltese Grand Harbour and turned over to the Maltese coast guard.

The Mediterranean has been the site of two deadly shipwrecks in recent weeks in which nearly 400 people have been killed.

Lampedusa, not far from Sicily and the closest Italian island to Africa, has become a destination for tens of thousands of refugees seeking to enter European Union countries — and such fatal maritime accidents are all too common.

The 684-foot long San Antonio normally has a crew of 363 and is a part of the U.S. 6th Fleet.