NATO warship assists Iranian vessel

NATO warship assists Iranian vessel

BRUSSELS - Agence France-Presse
NATO warship assists Iranian vessel

In this handout provided by the U.S. Navy, the guided-missile destroyer USS Kidd (DDG 100) responds to a distress call from the Iranian fishing vessel Al Molai off the coast of Somalia approximately 400 nautical miles north of the Republic of Seychelles January 5, 2012 in the Arabian Sea. U.S. Navy photo

A NATO warship went to the rescue this weekend of an Iranian-flagged vessel whose engine broke down just days after its rescue from pirates by another NATO ship, the alliance said Monday.

An Italian ship, the ITS Grecale, offered the five Iranian and nine Pakistani crew food and water and worked through the night to fix the engine, but to no avail, NATO said in a statement.

"The engine was too badly damaged to repair at sea," the statement said.

"NATO offered to transfer the crew to the closest port, but they chose to stay with their vessel," it added. The ITS Grecale "is remaining in the area to monitor the situation, ready to provide further assistance if required." The ship had been released from suspected Somali pirates on January 7 by a Danish warship, the HDMS Absalon.

That operation came days after a US warship, the USS Carney, intercepted the Indian-flagged dhow Al-Qashmi off the southwestern coast of Oman and freed its 20 Indian crew members.

The weekend assistance comes amid heightened tensions between the international community and Tehran.