Skipper Franziska Hansen: operation on 18 August – 60 people rescued.

M9_Einsatz_1ß0ß_1Since 06.45, we have been on our way, going east on the 24-nm-line west of Tripolis. The ‘Astral’ (a Spanish rescue boat) is in close proximity, east of us.

08.05  We sight a fast rubber boat approaching us from astern. Fearing that this could turn into a similar case to yesterday’s incident (the ‘Bourbon Argos‘, a ship belonging to Doctors without Borders, was attacked and shot at by a speedboat; no one was hurt), we turn north by 180 degrees and recommend that the ‘Astral’ do the same.

08.15  We sight a wooden boat north-east, closely followed by the sighting of a second one. After consultation with the ‘Astral’ we prepare the dinghy, while keeping the fast rubber boat in sight.

Once in the water on the ‘Charlotti’ (the Sea-Eye’s dinghy), we head towards the wooden boats. The pursuing rubber boat finally turns out to be a fishing boat, whose crew want to alert us to a third boat, which is sinking about ten nautical miles back. One of the ‘Astral’s‘ RIBs (rigid inflatable boat) takes charge of the third boat, while we provide the first boat with life vests and, together with the ‘Astral’s‘ second dinghy, begin to transfer the refugees from the two wooden boats onto the ‘Astral‘, altogether about 60 people, Bangladeshi, Africans, Syrians. All men, except one woman with two small children.

In the meantime, the Sea-Eye heads towards the sinking boat to help the crew on the ‘Astral’s‘ RIB, if necessary. We have been remaining in radio contact with the ‘Astral‘ throughout. The position of the boat, which has sunk by now, has been found by the ‘Astral’s‘ RIB and about 20 refugees, who are swimming, are rescued.

At the same time, at a distance of about four nautical miles, the ‘Topaz Responder’ of the MOAS (Maltese rescue organisation) is approaching, as well as two of the battle ships that accompanied us the previous evening. After clarification that the transfer of all refugees from the ‘Astral‘ to these ships will take place, we recover our life vests and are back on board the Sea-Eye by 11.15.

While our rescue action has been going on, the additional ships approaching the area (at first only the Sea-Eye and the ‘Astral‘ were there) have discovered further wooden and rubber boats and secured them.

After enquiry with the involved ships, especially the battle ships as well as a search and rescue (SAR) plane, it is confirmed that no further support from the Sea-Eye is required (the operational area was clearly south-west of our intended position in any case).