Last updated: 4 March, 2012

US Navy rescues stranded Iranian sailor in Gulf

The US Navy said Sunday it had rescued an Iranian sailor whose boat capsized in the Gulf earlier this week, in the latest such gesture despite soaring tensions between Washington and Tehran.

Two US Navy ships conducted a search and rescue mission for survivors of the sunken Iranian dhow, in Gulf waters at the weekend, a military statement said, picking up one survivor who was treated for shock and hypothermia.

A civilian translator learned from the Iranian sailor, whose lifeboat was spotted by a US vessel, that the dhow sank in bad weather late Friday with six mariners aboard and that four had died and one was missing.

The USS Firebolt patrol craft recovered the remains of three of the dead Iranian mariners in and around the lifeboat and searched for the two missing crew members with other US Navy and Coast Guard forces, the statement said.

The United States, while pressing Iran over its nuclear program, in January assisted Iranians stranded in the Gulf twice in less than a week, defying warnings from the Islamic regime not to enter strategic waters.

US forces routinely rescue sailors in distress regardless of nationality, but the recovery of Iranians is particularly sensitive given strains between Tehran and Washington over the former’s nuclear ambitions.