The Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport vessel USNS Trenton (T-EPF 5) transferred 41 migrants using boats from the Italian coast guard off the coast of the island of Lampedusa, Italy, on June 17.

The Trenton rescued the migrants off the coast of Libya on June 12, according to U.S. officials.

The "Trenton, in accordance with its obligations under international law, rendered assistance to mariners in distress that it encountered while conducting routine operations in the Mediterranean Sea," Navy Lt. Cmdr. Amelia Umayam, a spokesperson for U.S. Sixth Fleet told CNN.
The Trenton had encountered a vessel carrying 41 people in distress while operating in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Libya, June 12. During the operation, the Trenton crew initially observed approximately 12 bodies in the water that appeared to be unresponsive. The crew prioritized in recovering those who needed immediate help.

Sailors from the Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport ship USNS Trenton (T-EPF 5) render assistance to mariners in distress that they encountered while conducting routine operations in the Mediterranean Sea, June 12, 2018. U.S. Navy photo

Rigid-hull inflatable boats and a fast rescue boat conducted a follow-on search for these bodies, but could not locate them or any additional persons at the scene. If necessary, U.S. Navy ships are able to preserve remains in refrigerated storage.

After bringing them aboard the ship, the Trenton crew cared for the temporary passengers, providing them with food, water, clothing and basic medical care.

"Although it is seldom that we run into people in distress at sea, it is something we plan, practice and prepare for routinely," said Susan Orsini, ship master aboard Trenton. "A rescue at sea involves all hands aboard the ship. I was so proud and impressed by the thoughtful resourcefulness of all hands on board USNS Trenton. It filled my heart with hope and gratitude.

"The pivotal role the shore side units and personnel play in a rescue at sea cannot be minimized. The ship cannot do it alone," continued Orsini. "Their efforts involve intense and intricate coordination, timely and critical communications to all units and personnel involved. The reward for our efforts was seeing the rescued personnel transferred, in good spirits and good health, heading to their next destination."

The 338'x93' Trenton was built at Austal USA in Mobile, Ala., and entered service in 2015.

U.S. 6th Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied, joint, and interagency partners, in order to advance U.S. national interests, security, and stability in Europe and Africa.

David Krapf has been editor of WorkBoat, the nation’s leading trade magazine for the inland and coastal waterways industry, since 1999. He is responsible for overseeing the editorial direction of the publication. Krapf has been in the publishing industry since 1987, beginning as a reporter and editor with daily and weekly newspapers in the Houston area. He also was the editor of a transportation industry daily in New Orleans before joining WorkBoat as a contributing editor in 1992. He has been covering the transportation industry since 1989, and has a degree in business administration from the State University of New York at Oswego, and also studied journalism at the University of Houston.