September 27th, 2010
01:33 PM ET

13 drown, 8 missing after skiff getting Navy aid capsizes

A U.S. Navy boat works to rescue passengers from a capsized skiff in the Gulf of Aden.

Thirteen people drowned and eight are missing after a small skiff packed with more than seven dozen people capsized while getting aid from a U.S. Navy vessel in the Gulf of Aden, the U.S. military said Monday.

The skiff, packed with 75 Ethiopians and 10 Somalis, was spotted adrift in the gulf by a South Korean warship, which asked the guided missile destroyer USS Winston S. Churchill to provide assistance, according to a statement from the Combined Maritime Forces, which conducts anti-piracy patrols off the east coast of Africa.

The 9,500-ton, 513-foot long Churchill sent an inflatable boat to the aid of the skiff. After determining the skiff was without power, the inflatable towed it out of shipping lanes toward the Somali coast, the statement said.

At about 8:30 am local time Monday, U.S. sailors attempted to distribute fresh supplies to those aboard the skiff. As they did so, the Africans rushed to one side of the vessel, capsizing it, and sending all 85 passengers into the ocean.

Crews from the Churchill and an Australian patrol aircraft were able to rescue 61 of the skiff’s passengers. Thirteen drowned and eight were not found, the statement said.

The Navy was investigating the incident.

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Filed under: Africa • U.S. Navy
soundoff (224 Responses)
  1. Bob Walton

    Equal measures of hunger, impatience and stupidity.... a lethal mix.

    September 27, 2010 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sam

      And apparently, people from countries other than America think that everyone other than themselves must be an American. Seems to me like everyone is just under the impression that the USA is the only country in existence. How odd...

      September 27, 2010 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Smarticus

      Wait, wasn't it the US navy trying to help these poor folks. I feel bad for them but its not like the US navy was shelling them or something. Also when we are involved we get to make snide comments it is just the way it works in the US.

      September 27, 2010 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Amy

      Do you have to work hard to be that stupid, or is it a natural ability?

      September 27, 2010 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • bob2561

      guess you have never seen a group of shoppers after a bluelight special eh Bob?

      September 27, 2010 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Edwin

      I am reminded of the worker at Toys R Us who was trampled to death last year - I think it was New York, but I could be wrong - because of a sale on toys. Desperate people will do dangerous things.

      September 27, 2010 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Todd A

      Why are you people piling on Bob? Seems to me that what he said pretty much sums it up. These people were hungry, they were thirsty and they were stupid because their actions got some of them killed.

      September 27, 2010 at 5:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Shinea

      No, we stampede to get into Walmart first. We kill for an iphone not food. I suppose you call that civilized.

      September 27, 2010 at 6:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • joeyb

      In china they stampede for he chance to have a wife because of maos stupid ideas. I guess we shouldn't look up to china even though they think they are smart.

      September 27, 2010 at 7:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • HarshReality

      I agree, Bob. Hunger and thirst outweighed basic common sense. Kind of like those monkey (Just an example people, not related to whom I discuss) traps where the monkey puts it's hand in a small necked jar to grab the prize inside but must let g of it to get it's hand back out. Since it won't let go, no matter what, it gets caught. Just seems similar to for some reason, and NOT the "monkey" allusion. That was just an example for all those who automaticly claim racisim when monkeys are mentioned in the same paragraph as Africians, sheesh.

      They should think before they act.

      September 27, 2010 at 9:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bill Fold

      foolish people...how many on the skiff? several DOZEN!!! Then the all rush to one side?....I wonder how many didnt know how to swim....and of that number how many had life jackets....and of that number...how many knew how to use it...People...there are thousands of ways to die, emotions are often the cause...

      September 27, 2010 at 10:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • john

      Africa....sigh,,,,one big dump.....if I were an African-American..I would say...pleas just call me American, thanks

      September 28, 2010 at 2:08 am | Report abuse |
    • unknown

      Wow Bob. Getting beat up for pointing out the obvious, without any judgemental comments at all. Perhaps some folks should read what is before them instead of the evil in their imaginations.

      September 28, 2010 at 10:27 am | Report abuse |
    • LDopa

      Having been in the Navy myself, I know that accidents like these do happen, even given our best efforts to prevent them. The Navy investigation should look into whether or not the Navy had a translator on board the inflatable, and if warnings or instructions were given to the Africans before providing them with aid. Sadly, many of those aboard the skiff were doomed the moment they climbed aboard.

      September 28, 2010 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
    • BEJN

      I am very proud of those sailors! They did a great job I know many of those people on the USS Winston Churchill personally!

      September 29, 2010 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Reality Check

    Go Navy !!

    September 27, 2010 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Margaret

    Bob – I think it's called desperation.
    Something you may not have ever experienced. Be grateful.

    September 27, 2010 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Arsio

      @Margaret I agree and i think everyone here should. Be grateful that we haven't reached those conditions.

      September 27, 2010 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Davey

      Desperate enough to fling themselves to a certain death in the ocean by running to one side of the boat? No, dumb as sheep.

      September 27, 2010 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lordbinder

      @Arsio
      Yet. Key word. GO Obama

      September 27, 2010 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Todd A

      Davey, I think you mean Lemmings, not sheep.

      September 27, 2010 at 5:50 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jack63

    Wonder what they were doing out there in the first place?

    September 27, 2010 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • svscnn

      My first question too. Conveniently ignored in the article.

      September 28, 2010 at 11:05 am | Report abuse |
    • Frightened by the ignorance

      Do you think they decided to get on a skiff with 80 people on it to go for a Sunday Joy ride? Really? They were doing their best to try for a life that wasn't already threatened every day by militants, ethnic cleansing, starvation, and slavery.

      September 28, 2010 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
  5. CPT K.

    I have seen serious food riots in Africa over Western aid that involved many people being trampled to death. This does not surprise me a bit. There is no culture of waiting patiently there, and lining up is apparently completely foreign. Sad but true.

    September 27, 2010 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wes

      Did you see the Atlanta housing distribution form "line up?" Could have been Somalia.

      September 27, 2010 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • demetri

      When we have had disasters here, people behaved badly out of desparation. They are not necessarily bad people, but frighten, hungry and want a better life. The real shame is that there is more than enough world resources to feed and house people, but those same resources are controlled buy a few through out the world.

      September 27, 2010 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Me, myself and I

      I remember the crush of people to get beany babies, cabbage patch kids, power ranger toys, etc etc etc. I remember a bunch of people getting crushed to death by a crowd too impatient to take their time getting in to see The Who in Cincinnati. I have seen women on "Black Friday" pushing each other over, fist fighting just to get that one early bird special.

      But yeah if you are in a "skiff" overloaded with 85 people, better to stay calm then tip the boat over.

      September 27, 2010 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • shah

      CPTK. As much as your statement is hurtful you are 100% right.I have seen the same thing in Pakistan .The key word is discipline,which they lack by the buckets..The politicians of these 3rd world countries don't have any manners and discipline how do you expect their public to.Go into any establishment where there are queues and you will not only get people jumping them but also confused as to why they have to line up and just not charge forward like elephants.In India and Pakistan 1000's of people die every year when rich people with good intent are handing out freebees and consequently you get a stampede when people jumping over each other to get their share.

      September 27, 2010 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lisaspups

      Was it a smart thing to do? No, but try suffering from starvation and thirst and see how patient you are.

      September 27, 2010 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • bob2561

      lining up and waiting patiently evidently you are not from USA CPT K.

      September 27, 2010 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • HarshReality

      Not just lning up, but basic cooperation is lacking to the extent that Africa is what it is today, and I believe, what it will always be (I wish this was different, I realy do).

      Also, (I'm not proud of this, but here it is:) if the West hadn't introduced firearms, the murder rate would not change, they would just be using stone killing implements intsead of bullets.

      September 27, 2010 at 9:44 pm | Report abuse |
  6. CPT K.

    Somalia is particularly nasty. You can smell Mogadishu from 30 miles off the coast.

    September 27, 2010 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • shah

      You can smell the whole of African 120 miles off the coast..

      September 27, 2010 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Todd A

      Burning tires or garbage?

      September 27, 2010 at 5:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sagebrush Shorty

      almost as bad as New Jersey.

      September 27, 2010 at 7:55 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Reality

    How in the world can there be anymore people in that country? Why in the name of all blazes would anyone decide to have a child in that cesspool? The same goes for Detroit (Sarcasm)

    September 27, 2010 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ted

      Don't confuse intent with having had poor birds and the bees education and living in a country where certain affluent political organizations (American churches) actively lobby to prevent birth control from being available.

      September 27, 2010 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • DebG

      I agree with Ted. Every time there is a group assembled to discuss things such as poverty and population control, the Catholic Church is there preventing the discussion of birth control. Funny, they're always in attendance, but it is all the other nations footing the bill. Also, during the Bush administration, there was never any combination of Aid with birth control. The thing that separates the western countries and the third (and 4th) world is birth control. That's the problem with foreign aid it just never stops ... that is the problem.

      September 27, 2010 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ian

      Reality – my guess is you couldn't even get within 10 million of the population. Ballpark is? Even a clue? How big is the country anyway? How's the economy? Name one city other than the capital?

      "Actively lobby" whom exactly, Ted? What is the Islamic contraception stand?

      DebG – this is home of some of the hardest core Muslim fundamentalists around, al Shaabab is not exactly 'Catholic friendly'.

      You people appall me with your ignorance.

      September 27, 2010 at 10:05 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Texas Pete

    At least these guys didn't try to pirate the USN vessel.

    September 27, 2010 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Todd A

      They were too hungry and dehydrated............at the time. They would have tried,they were just biding their time.

      September 27, 2010 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse |
  9. k3citizen

    Why should the USA continue to support Africans? It seems that they will never help themselves as long as we keep bailing them out. They should move to where the food is.

    September 27, 2010 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      You realize that would be here, right? You want those people living among us and bringing their problems here?

      September 27, 2010 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • J

      Im thinking the same thing...in the USA!!!! why do we keep bailing out the banks, auto industry, and anyone else who sticks thier hand out?!?!?!

      September 27, 2010 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • wiseman

      Why do you think they were in the boat, going fishing?!?!?!? They WERE trying to move to a better life where the food is dip-stick. Take a few more steps back and look at the big, big picture. Are YOU prepared to move to another country half way around the world for provisions? How do you start? Where do you start? What do you use for traveling money if you don't have enough for the very basic needs like FOOD? Population control and education are THE answers.

      September 27, 2010 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Todd A

      @ J. First off we don't "keep bailing out" the auto indusrty. We did it once. Secondly if we hadn't you do realize how many more people would have their hands out in the food lines and unemployment offices? The auto industry directly emplyoees a couple hundred thousand people with a couple hundred thousand more in supporting industries such as machine shops, trucking and variuos other suppliers.

      September 27, 2010 at 5:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • hey!

      what grade are you in?

      September 28, 2010 at 3:39 am | Report abuse |
    • hey!

      and the rich will never help themselves until we stop bailing them out.

      September 28, 2010 at 3:44 am | Report abuse |
    • hey!

      @todd i used to think that too then i realized that in a free market economy when one door closes another opens. if there were a demand for cars someone else would step up and create these same jobs. GM owners (shareholders) would have been the only losers. gotcha!

      September 28, 2010 at 3:52 am | Report abuse |
  10. warytravler

    I'm surprised they haven't blamed the Navy yet...

    September 27, 2010 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • WillardR

      Don't worry somebody will in due time. The Navy should have somehow foreseen this and done something about it. Maybe they'll sue.

      September 27, 2010 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • bob2561

      wait until the evening news.

      September 27, 2010 at 5:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • idkidc

      shoulda gone at them head on

      September 27, 2010 at 6:50 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Davey

    In a way I feel sorry for the boat people, but in a way, I don't as their own idiocy, impatience and selfishness caused them to sink themselves. How few IQ points do you need to see the outcome of all going to one side of the boat? The guys I really feel sorry for are the Navy sailors who had to witness the debacle.

    September 27, 2010 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • andicall

      could it be possible that they saw the navy servicemen's guns first before their actual intent of helping? my first instinct is to back away too. Unfortunately they weren't on a ground. think plz

      September 27, 2010 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • tim

      Said the same when I was in NO. after Katrina...

      September 27, 2010 at 5:51 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Oliver Wenlock Homes

    Story will be forgotten tomorrow. Sad but true. Maybe someone could nominate them for a, "Darwin Award" so they are not completely forgotten?

    September 27, 2010 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Mike 216

    86 people just drifting? Maybe they should have like pushed it by swimming in shifts towards the coast or something

    September 27, 2010 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Davey

      Many Africans never learned how to swim and were probably terrified of the water anyway.

      September 27, 2010 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  14. RBIE

    Its funny how they got 85 ethiopians on a 15 ft skiff..... You couldnt fit five fat ass amaricans on that boat. It must have looked like a full box of tooth picks floating out there..

    September 27, 2010 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • HJ

      OK RBIE,

      You should be a comedian! You are not only true but funny. Need a Manager?

      September 27, 2010 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • FunnierThanU

      burnt toothpicks

      September 27, 2010 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Sal

    So many judgmental, ignorant and insensitive comments! People are dead, be respectful.

    Secondly, I agree with Margaret. Desperation, hunger, deprivation etc are what led them scrambling for the supplies resulting in this sad situation. The comments that I've seen thus far indicate that none of you have ever suffered in this manner.

    The media always harps on negative images of blacks (African, American, Caribbean etc) maybe that's why I've seen so many comments amount "lines" and "riots." This behavior is not limited to Africans, however, they are disproportionately affected by poverty and perhaps lends to our media flood of these images. Think of the Ellie Wiesel's novel about the Holocaust, there's a scene he describes on a train where the Jews literally claw each other for a scrap of food. Hunger and poverty change you, survival becomes your first priority.

    As to the comments about sanitation, you can't judge an entire people by the actions of a few. Besides, I've found in my travels throughout Europe, Asia and Africa deodorant is sometimes an after-thought for some!

    September 27, 2010 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Snowdon

      Sorry to break this to you, Sal, but Wiesel's "Night" was largely fiction.

      September 27, 2010 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
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