The Navy rescued Iranian fishermen being held hostage by suspected Somali pirates for more than 40 days in the Gulf of Oman, U.S. officials said.

The USS John C. Stennis - the same aircraft carrier that Iran vehemently banned from the Persian Gulf - responded to a distress call from the hijacked merchant ship. The Navy destroyer USS Kidd met little resistance from the 15 pirates and released all 13 Iranians on board Thursday, MSNBC reported.

The rescue came less than two days after Iranian Army chief Ataollah Salehi said they would take action if the U.S. returned its aircraft carrier to the strategic oil waterway. The USS John C. Stennis had moved out of the waterway for a 10-day Iranian military exercise.

U.S. officials said the Iranian dhow was being used as a mother ship for pirating operations in the Persian Gulf, according to The Associated Press.

When we boarded, we gave them food, water and medical care Josh Schminky, a Navy Criminal Investigative Service agent aboard the Kidd told Fox News. They had been through a lot. We went out of our way to treat the fishing crew with kindness and respect.

Earlier this week, Pentagon officials said they would continue Navy operations in the Gulf despite Iranian threats to keep out.