January 6th, 2012
06:29 PM ET

Iran+pirates+US rescue=PR bonanza

By Larry Shaughnessy

The Pentagon's public affairs apparatus put on a full-court press Friday after the U.S. Navy rescued 13 Iranian fishermen from a group of suspect pirates. But for all the back-patting of U.S. efforts to save sailors even from an "axis of evil" country, it turns out the true hero in the whole incident was the quick-thinking Iranian captain.

Not always known for being forthcoming, the Pentagon press office nearly went into a shock-and-awe operation with the story, in likely recognition of the goodwill it hoped to demonstrate to the Iranian people.

Rear Adm. Craig Faller, commander of the USS John Stennis Strike Group, and Cmdr. Jennifer Ellinger, commanding officer of the USS Kidd, held a conference call with reporters that went past midnight in their time zone to discuss the incident.

The call came hours after the office of the Navy's chief of naval information released two videos and numerous still photos of the incident.

Shortly after the call was over, Pentagon reporters were sent an e-mail letting them know that Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta had called Faller to congratulate him and his team for a "well executed effort."

The initial news release about the rescue came hours before the conference call and said little about the captain or "master" of the Iranian dhow, the Al Molai.

But during the call, Ellinger said that when the Navy established radio contact with the Al Molai, the captain used some trickery to let her crew know what was happening.

"When he had the opportunity, he would tell us in a foreign language that they were physically abusing them, they had pirated them and that they were five to 15 people on board and that they were scared," Ellinger said. "We reassured them that we would be on our way."

He risked his life, using a dialect of Urdu which is primarily spoken in Pakistan. "He did convey that he was trying to talk to us hoping that the Somalis did not understand him," Ellinger said. The Navy happened to have an Urdu linguist on board who was able to talk with the captive captain.

It's not clear why a fishing boat captain from Iran would be familiar with Urdu, but it's similar to Hindi, which is common in Indian movies that are popular throughout that part of the world.And fishermen in the region often pick up dialects through interactions with other high sea farers.

The captain didn't just tell the Americans about the pirates, Ellinger said, he also used the approaching American warship to threaten the pirates who had held his vessel and crew hostage for more than 40 days.

"He increased the threat to the pirates, saying that we were coming on board, and that we knew they were there, adding tension to the pirates to the point where they were willing to surrender their weapons," Ellinger said.

After the pirates were taken into custody and moved to the USS Stennis, the U.S. sailors began sending food and water over to the dhow.

Ellinger said the Iranians were extremely grateful. "When we left they expressed their sincere thanks for helping free them."

Faller said they are now on their way back home. "Once we released them today, they went on their way - quite happily, I might add, waving to us wearing USS Kidd Navy ball caps. We believe they are headed back to Iran to their home port."

The Pentagon public affairs organization, which can at times be glacial in its response to reporters' questions, was so quick to blow the military's horn in part because of to recent tensions between the United States and Iran.

"We wanted to turn the temperature down on the situation," said a senior defense official who would speak only on background. "We want this to be an example for the Iranians to follow."

At the State Department, the chance to show the United States took the high road was not missed.

"This is an incredible story. This is a great story," said State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland. "The very same ship and set of vessels that the Iranians protested on its last voyage through Hormuz, the John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group, just rescued this Iranian dhow from pirates."

Post by:
Filed under: Iran • Navy • Pentagon
soundoff (316 Responses)
  1. Selene Svrcek

    I don't know about you guys but I love airplanes. I had a friend in highschool that loves airplanes, so here are some airplane related stuff I don't know about you guys but I love airplanes. I had a friend in highschool that loved airplanes, so here are some airplane related stuff https://www.airlinereporter.com/2010/12/boeing-787-dreamliner-za001-makes-17min-flight-to-paine-field/

    http://everydayliteracies.blogspot.com/2014/08/new-book-in-our-series-youth-community.html?showComment=1537046229471

    June 13, 2021 at 7:34 pm | Reply
  2. Mireya Lucien

    I don't know about you people but I am obsessed with airplanes. I have a friend in highschool that loved airplanes, so here are some airplane related stuff I don't know about you guys but I love airplanes. I had a friend in highschool that loved airplanes, so here are some airplane related stuff https://www.airlinereporter.com/2009/03/the-airline-blogs-livery-of-the-day-jetstar/

    http://lostbiro.com/blog/?paged=78

    June 13, 2021 at 6:29 pm | Reply
  3. Seymour Cook

    I don't know about you guys but I love airplanes. I have a friend in highschool that loves airplanes, so here are some airplane related stuff I don't know about you guys but I love airplanes. I had a friend in highschool that loved airplanes, so here are some airplane related stuff https://www.airlinereporter.com/2011/04/select-a-quest-if-you-were-a-museum-what-boeing-airplanes-would-you-choose/

    http://myemail.constantcontact.com/Be-a-Part-of-Giving-Tuesday-by-Supporting-the-Future-of-Flight-Foundation-.html?soid=1111846961938&aid=zrXG1JFUdEw

    June 13, 2021 at 3:57 am | Reply
  4. Jovita Vaughen

    Have you ever heard of second life (sl for short). It is essentially a game where you can do anything you want. Second life is literally my second life (pun intended lol). If you want to see more you can see these second life authors and blogs

    http://everydayliteracies.blogspot.com/2014/05/imagination-wanted-mobile-devices-in.html?showComment=1559243375877

    June 12, 2021 at 5:24 pm | Reply
  5. Carlos Hanten

    This was great! I would like you to clean up all this spam though

    https://www.linkedin.com/in/yusufhanafy

    June 11, 2021 at 4:47 am | Reply
  6. Andy Hurren

    This was great! I would like you to clean up all this spam though

    https://www.linkedin.com/in/yusufhanafy

    June 7, 2021 at 10:28 pm | Reply
  7. Ardella Lamberto

    This was awesome! I would like you to clean up all this spam though

    https://www.linkedin.com/in/yusufhanafy

    June 6, 2021 at 2:07 am | Reply
  8. Glenn Swirsky

    Have you ever heard of second life (sl for short). It is essentially a game where you can do anything you want. sl is literally my second life (pun intended lol). If you want to see more you can see these second life articles and blogs

    http://everydayliteracies.blogspot.com/2014/05/imagination-wanted-mobile-devices-in.html?showComment=1588033898602

    June 2, 2021 at 11:06 pm | Reply
  9. Tish Medure

    This was great! I would like you to clean up all this spam though

    https://www.linkedin.com/in/yusufhanafy

    June 1, 2021 at 9:57 am | Reply
  10. Madelene Goodwater

    Have you ever heard of second life (sl for short). It is essentially a game where you can do anything you want. Second life is literally my second life (pun intended lol). If you would like to see more you can see these second life websites and blogs

    http://everydayliteracies.blogspot.com/2011/07/some-first-do-it-together-digital-media.html?showComment=1315311019646

    May 31, 2021 at 4:27 am | Reply
  11. Virgie Holje

    Have you ever heard of second life (sl for short). It is basically a online game where you can do anything you want. Second life is literally my second life (pun intended lol). If you would like to see more you can see these Second Life articles and blogs

    http://everydayliteracies.blogspot.com/2010/02/untirement-ex-patting-i-reckon-i-could.html?showComment=1265443812798

    May 30, 2021 at 5:45 am | Reply
  12. Lynwood Molinere

    Have you ever heard of second life (sl for short). It is essentially a online game where you can do anything you want. Second life is literally my second life (pun intended lol). If you want to see more you can see these sl articles and blogs

    http://myvedana.blogspot.com/2009/03/recency.html?m=0

    May 29, 2021 at 4:58 am | Reply
  13. Fred Noland

    Have you ever heard of second life (sl for short). It is essentially a online game where you can do anything you want. sl is literally my second life (pun intended lol). If you want to see more you can see these second life authors and blogs

    http://everydayliteracies.blogspot.com/2009/01/read-500-04-students-explore-following.html?showComment=1233090780000

    May 28, 2021 at 4:30 am | Reply
  14. Jonah Dechaine

    Have you ever heard of second life (sl for short). It is basically a game where you can do anything you want. sl is literally my second life (pun intended lol). If you would like to see more you can see these sl authors and blogs

    http://amusingspace.blogspot.com/2009/03/twitter-changes.html

    May 23, 2021 at 3:46 am | Reply
  15. Santo Schoemer

    I don't know about you people but I love airplanes. I had a friend in highschool that loves airplanes, so here are some airplane related stuff I don't know about you guys but I love airplanes. I had a friend in highschool that loved airplanes, so here are some airplane related stuff https://www.airlinereporter.com/2010/11/kiddie-wings-are-back-via-delta-air-lines/

    http://www.pseconline.org/pipermail/reps_pseconline.org/2012-November/000869.html

    May 21, 2021 at 4:41 pm | Reply
  16. Ollie Loso

    Have you ever heard of second life (sl for short). It is basically a video game where you can do anything you want. Second life is literally my second life (pun intended lol). If you want to see more you can see these sl websites and blogs

    http://everydayliteracies.blogspot.com/2005/02/success-for-boys-project-my-last-task.html

    May 20, 2021 at 7:42 pm | Reply
  17. Willis Kunc

    Have you ever heard of second life (sl for short). It is basically a online game where you can do anything you want. Second life is literally my second life (pun intended lol). If you would like to see more you can see these second life authors and blogs

    http://everydayliteracies.blogspot.com/2005/12/lessig-podcast-digital-village-voice.html

    May 20, 2021 at 2:51 am | Reply
  18. Alonzo Brier

    I don't know about you all but I infatuated with airplanes. I had a friend in highschool that loved airplanes, so here are some airplane related stuff I don't know about you guys but I love airplanes. I had a friend in highschool that loved airplanes, so here are some airplane related stuff https://www.airlinereporter.com/2010/09/lost-in-time-when-alaska-airlines-flew-boeing-707s-2/

    http://www.pseconline.org/pipermail/reps_pseconline.org/2013-October/000980.html

    May 19, 2021 at 3:54 am | Reply
  19. Douglass Maccini

    I don't know about you people but I love airplanes. I have a friend in highschool that loves airplanes, so here are some airplane related stuff I don't know about you guys but I love airplanes. I had a friend in highschool that loved airplanes, so here are some airplane related stuff https://www.airlinereporter.com/2011/05/sometimes-airlines-arent-evil/

    http://urlm.co/g/c/f/163870

    May 17, 2021 at 10:29 pm | Reply
  20. Georgine Hobock

    Have you ever heard of second life (sl for short). It is basically a game where you can do anything you want. Second life is literally my second life (pun intended lol). If you want to see more you can see these second life authors and blogs

    http://rumblingstrips.blogspot.com/2006/07/

    May 17, 2021 at 7:05 am | Reply
  21. Jeanie Space

    I don't know about you people but I am obsessed with airplanes. I had a friend in highschool that loves airplanes, so here are some airplane related stuff I don't know about you guys but I love airplanes. I had a friend in highschool that loved airplanes, so here are some airplane related stuff https://www.airlinereporter.com/2009/10/free-flights-for-life-just-give-birth-onboard-on-an-airplane/

    http://mastersprogrambest.blogspot.com/2013/09/national-security-masters-programs_20.html

    May 16, 2021 at 4:16 pm | Reply
  22. stornobrzinol

    Great weblog here! Also your site a lot up very fast! What host are you the usage of? Can I get your associate link in your host? I want my site loaded up as fast as yours lol

    http://www.stornobrzinol.com/

    May 16, 2021 at 4:37 am | Reply
  23. Dusty Marvel

    This was awesome! I would like you to clean up all this spam though

    https://www.linkedin.com/in/yusuf-hanafy-82493b183

    May 12, 2021 at 2:54 am | Reply
  24. Lenita Rasher

    Have you ever heard of second life (sl for short). It is essentially a game where you can do anything you want. sl is literally my second life (pun intended lol). If you would like to see more you can see these sl websites and blogs

    http://lostbiro.com/blog/?paged=56

    May 10, 2021 at 5:46 pm | Reply
  25. Carmel

    Pretty! This was an extremely wonderful article. Many thanks for supplying this info.

    April 29, 2021 at 4:21 am | Reply
  26. Jamey Deshler

    so much wonderful information on here, : D.

    http://www.froleprotrem.com/

    March 24, 2021 at 11:41 pm | Reply
  27. Loreta Moorehouse

    Usually I don't learn post on blogs, but I would like to say that this write-up very compelled me to try and do so! Your writing taste has been amazed me. Thank you, quite great post.

    https://www.electricpercolatorcoffeepot.com/10-top-coffee-bloggers/

    March 6, 2021 at 2:33 pm | Reply
  28. Jesus Curtner

    You made some decent points there. I did a search on the topic and found most individuals will agree with your site.

    https://www.electricpercolatorcoffeepot.com/10-top-coffee-bloggers/

    March 4, 2021 at 10:07 am | Reply
  29. Kattie Vanatta

    https://www.electricpercolatorcoffeepot.com/10-top-coffee-bloggers/

    March 4, 2021 at 10:03 am | Reply
  30. ClarkClurn

    cpzkb wfhal zbjn

    March 1, 2021 at 7:06 pm | Reply
  31. abc news live streaming ny

    Hi, for all time i used to check website posts here in the early hours in the daylight,
    for the reason that i love to learn more and more.

    February 16, 2021 at 11:45 am | Reply
  32. Europa-Road Kft.

    Hey would you mind stating which blog platform you're working with? I'm looking to start my own blog in the near future but I'm having a difficult time selecting between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal. The reason I ask is because your design and style seems different then most blogs and I'm looking for something unique. P.S My apologies for being off-topic but I had to ask!

    https://europa-road.eu/hu/transportation.php

    February 9, 2021 at 3:24 am | Reply
  33. zortilo nrel

    naturally like your website however you have to take a look at the spelling on several of your posts. Many of them are rife with spelling issues and I in finding it very bothersome to tell the reality nevertheless I’ll definitely come back again.

    http://www.zortilonrel.com/

    February 7, 2021 at 12:45 pm | Reply
  34. Willene Franceschina

    https://www.electricpercolatorcoffeepot.com/10-top-coffee-bloggers/

    January 28, 2021 at 10:08 pm | Reply
  35. Camille Albor

    https://www.electricpercolatorcoffeepot.com/10-top-coffee-bloggers/

    January 27, 2021 at 11:52 am | Reply
  36. Rosy Syphard

    Some truly nice and utilitarian info on this web site, besides I conceive the design contains excellent features.

    https://www.electricpercolatorcoffeepot.com/10-top-coffee-bloggers/

    January 21, 2021 at 1:48 am | Reply
1 2

Leave a Reply to Ted Ward


 

CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.