July 26 (UPI) -- A U.S. Navy destroyer rescued five stranded Peruvian fishermen who had been adrift on the Atlantic Ocean for eight days in waters near Ecuador, the Navy said.
The fishing vessel, which suffered an engine failure off the coast of Peru, drifted in the ocean until the USS Michael Murphy spotted it 80 nautical miles of the Ecuadorian coast, the Navy said Thursday.
The guided missile destroyer was conducting routine operations with the Navy's 4th Fleet when the fishing boat was observed on Wednesday. The fishermen, who ran out of food five days before the destroyer spotted them, and drinkable water a few days earlier then that, were welcomed aboard the destroyer.
Navy personnel provided them with food and water and lacking parts to repair the boat's motor, towed their vessel to Ecuadorian waters for transfer to the Ecuadorian Coast Guard.
The Navy noted in its statement that Ens. Adrienne Wang, Junior Officer of the Deck, and Ens. Alex Misenheimer, Officer of the Deck, were the first to observe the distress signals of the fishing boat in the water.
Assisting mariners in distress is a responsibility of all vessels at sea, the officers noted.
"Today's events provided us an opportunity to render assistance to fellow mariners in need," said Cmdr. Christopher Forch, the USS Michael Murphy's commanding officer. "Our training and capabilities allowed us to quickly assess the situation, plan the rescue operation, and care for these fishermen who found themselves adrift for a significant period of time."
"A chance encounter at sea resulted in the preservation of five lives," Forch said.