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Defense secretary praises San Diego sailors for rescuing Iranians from pirates

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta on Friday called the admiral of a San Diego-based carrier strike group to congratulate his sailors on the rescue of 13 Iranian fishermen held hostage by pirates just outside the Persian Gulf.

Sailors from the destroyer Kidd boarded the Iranian fishing boat Thursday after its captain signaled for help. Fifteen pirates were taken into custody and transferred to the carrier John C. Stennis.

"When we get a distress signal, we're going to respond," Panetta told Rear Adm. Craig Faller, commander of Strike Group 3. "That's the nature of what our country is all about."

-- Tony Perry in San Diego

Photo: A Navy SH-60 Seahawk helicopter supports a boat with a boarding party from the destroyer Kidd sent to free Iranian fishermen from pirates just outside the Persian Gulf. Credit: U.S. Navy


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