A Canadian patrol frigate has rescued two Pakistani sailors who had been adrift in the Arabian Sea for three days without food or drink, the Defence Department announced on Tuesday.


The two rescued sailors climb down a rope ladder to be transferred to Pakistani officials. ((DND/Cpl Robert LeBlanc, Formation Imaging Services))

The Sunday rescue came after the crew of a Sea King helicopter, on routine patrol with HMCS Charlottetown, spotted the two men waving frantically on the Azaan, a 240-foot barge, DND said in a statement. 

HMCS Charlottetown, which is currently deployed in the Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea, changed course to intercept the men.

Through a translator, the sailors said they had left the United Arab Emirates on Jan. 29 as members of the Al Wabi, which was towing the Azaan to a scrap-metal yard in Jiwani, Pakistan.

But two days later, the towing cable broke in heavy seas, so they boarded the barge to attach a new one, the men said.

"While they were working, the Al Wabi lost propulsion for some reason, and then capsized and sank, taking with her the other five members of the crew," the DND statement said. "The two men on the barge were left with nothing to eat or drink, no shelter, and no means of communication."

The Canadian frigate launched a search of the area for other crew members of the Al Wabi, but none were found. Only debris from the sunken vessel was located.

Last week, HMCS Charlottetown, which is based in Halifax, came to the aid of Pakistani fishing boat adrift off the coast.