A US Navy destroyer rescued an Iranian fishing boat that had been commandeered by suspected pirates just days after Tehran warned the US to keep its warships out of the Gulf. American forces flying off the guided-missile destroyer USS Kidd responded to a distress call from the Iranian vessel, the Al Molai, which had been held captive for more than 40 days, the Navy said. The Kidd was sailing in the Arabian Sea, after leaving the Gulf, when it came to the sailors' aid.
A Navy team boarded the ship yesterday and detained 15 suspected Somali pirates. They had been holding the 13-member Iranian crew hostage and were using the boat as a "mother ship" for pirating operations in the Gulf. The episode occurred after a week of hostile rhetoric from Iranian leaders, including a statement by Iran's Army chief that American vessels are no longer welcome in the Gulf. Iran also warned it could block the Strait of Hormuz, the strategic waterway that carries to market much of the oil pumped in the Middle East.