Crew members aboard the navy warship USS Rentz recently took time out from patrolling for drug-smugglers off the coast of Central America to help out a group of sea turtles in need of rescue.

The chance rescue began after an attached helicopter unit, searching for drug filled submarines, saw a strange-looking mass of floating garbage and plastic-bottle buoys some 80 nautical miles from shore. They radioed in their discovery, and soon the 450-foot Rentz was dispatched to check it out.

When the vessel arrived, an inflatable boat was launched for a closer look and they realized that the suspicious debris was actually three sea turtles, hopelessly tangled in rope.

"I knew they were still alive once I saw their little fins moving in the water," said Lt. j.g. Michelle Webster, an officer on the inflatable. Word was quickly sent down from Rentz commanding officer, Lance Lantier, that team was to cut the turtles free.

While the impromptu wildlife rescue may have deviated from their assignment of wrangling drug-smugglers, Cmdr. Lantier says that the chance to be a “good steward” to the environment came as a welcome change.

“Opportunities to save and help our oceanic friends are some of the easier decisions I can make as a commander on board a U.S. Navy warship.”