From Russia to China, from readiness problems to misbehaving officers and sailor shortages, it can sometimes seem like nothing good goes on in the fleet.

But that’s not the case, and the crew on board the dry cargo ship William McLean showed us why.

The Merchant Marine members rescued two big sea turtles from abandoned fishing nets on Feb. 3 as their vessel was underway in the Arabian Sea, according to a U.S. 5th Fleet press release.

They spotted the snagged sea turtles and sent a small boat to investigate.

“Ships routinely post lookout watches to ensure marine life is not endangered during operations,” the press release notes.

The crew found the sea turtles ensnared in the nets, with ropes coiled around their necks and fins.

“Unlike other turtle species, sea turtles can’t retract into their shells, leaving them vulnerable to entanglement in marine debris,” the release states.

The boat crew and a rescue swimmer untangled the turtles and set them free.

An estimated 4,600 sea turtles are killed by fishing nets and hooks in U.S. waters alone each year, according to the Smithsonian’s Ocean Portal.

“It was the right thing to do and it felt great to see those two turtles swim away, free of the fishing nets,” said Brandon J. Varner, the captain of the ship.

Geoff is the editor of Navy Times, but he still loves writing stories. He covered Iraq and Afghanistan extensively and was a reporter at the Chicago Tribune. He welcomes any and all kinds of tips at

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