The morning of 29 July 2016 saw a dramatic rescue action. This is the report by Sea-Eye’s Mission 8 crew:
04:00 Engine gets started and search begins. Before sunrise at…
05:30 We sight a rubber boat, approximately 18 nm north-west of Tripolis, holding about 110 men and 30 women.
A bit later, sighting of a second boat. Within 1.5 hours, we sight three further boats, accompanied at a distance of about 0.5 nm by three fast rubber boats, presumably the people smugglers, who want to recover the boats and engines after the rescue, or fishermen, hoping to make some extra money by re-selling the engines.
At this point we call for support by the navy so as to ensure the safe rescue of the refugees. About 1-2 hours later three navy ships arrive. The supposed smuggler boats retreat.
At the same time, we ask for support from other rescue ships in the vicinity, which could take over the rescue of some boats, but the ‘Sea-Watch’ and the ‘Luventa’ are busy with other operations in the same target area. At the request of the MRCC Rome, MOAS’ ‘Phoenix’ heads towards us, but only after finishing their own operation with two refugee boats.
‘Phoenix’ and ‘Sea-Watch’ speedboats arrive to support us while we are looking after five boats and about 600 people.
Within a radius of one nautical mile around the Sea-Eye, there are: five rubber boats with 600 refugees, three battle ships, MOAS’ ‘Phoenix’ and three speedboats belonging to Sea-Eye, Sea-Watch and MOAS. In the middle of this, a fishing boat, hauling in its nets.
The speedboats provide the refugees with life vests and MOAS and two battle ships gradually take them on board.
The navy collect the refugee boats and destroy them.
14:30 The Sea-Eye’s rescue operation is finished once we have pulled in our speedboat and packed up the recovered life vests.