3 boats intercepted by the Moroccan Navy

02.08.2015 / 19:56 / Western Mediterranean Sea, Morocco

Watch The Med Alarm Phone Investigations 1st of August 2015

Case name: 2015_08_01-WM35
Situation: 3 vssels in distress between Morocco and Spain, all intercepted
Status of WTM Investigations: Concluded
Place of Incidents: Western Mediterranean Sea, Morocco

Summary of the Cases: On the 1st of August 2015, the Alarm Phone was alerted to three cases of distress in the Western Mediterranean Sea, between Morocco and Spain. At approximately 1.30p, we were contacted by a woman who said that there was a group of 9 travellers (7 men, 1 woman, 1 child) that had left Morocco 4-5 hours earlier on a vessel. We tried several times to reach the travellers directly, without success. Twenty minutes later the contact person told us that the people had informed her that they could see a vessel in vicinity. We informed the Spanish search and rescue organisation Salvamento Maritimo who told us that they knew of the case. They said that the Moroccan Navy was already searching for the vessel and it was not in their territory so they could not go and do the rescue themselves. At 2.17pm, the contact person informed us that they could still see the blue vessel which, however, did not seem to stop. Then, no news could be obtained for several hours. In a conversation with Salvamento Maritimo in the evening, at approximately 8.35pm, they said that they had no information about the travellers. At about 9.16pm, our contact person confirmed that the group had been intercepted by the Moroccan Navy and had already been returned to Morocco.

On the same day we were alerted to a second vessel in distress in the Western Med. At about 4.30pm a woman called us who told us about a vessel that had left between 2-3am in the morning. About half an hour later we found out that there were 11 men on board who had left from Cap Spartel. The contact person told us that they needed help urgently as they had problems with their vessel. Following her account the Moroccan Navy had even been informed but they did not want to conduct a rescue operation. We passed these newly obtained information on to Salvamento Maritimo. As in the previous case, Salvamento could not confirm the whereabouts of the travellers in the evening. At approximately 8.47pm, the contact person informed us that they had been intercepted by the Moroccan Navy. In the evening, we were able to reach the travellers directly via WhatsApp. They said that they were ignored by both Spanish and Moroccan coastguards despite a clear distress situation. They also saw the German cargo vessel ‘Hamburg’ which moved toward Morocco but did not come to their help. They were at sea for about 3 hours.

At about 11.30pm, we were contacted by a person who had been on another vessel that was intercepted by the Moroccan Navy around noon. He told us that they were transported to a police station and then placed in a car. When he called us he was still in the car with 12 other people who were scared and exhausted from their attempt to cross the sea. A few minutes later we learned from them that they had been left out behind Casiago forest.
Last update: 19:59 Aug 03, 2015
Credibility: UP DOWN 0
Layers »
  • Border police patrols
    While the exact location of patrols is of course constantly changing, this line indicates the approximate boundary routinely patrolled by border guards’ naval assets. In the open sea, it usually correspond to the outer extent of the contiguous zone, the area in which “State may exercise the control necessary to prevent infringement of its customs, fiscal, immigration or sanitary laws” (UNCLOS, art. 33). Data source: interviews with border police officials.
  • Coastal radars
    Approximate radar beam range covered by coastal radars operating in the frame of national marine traffic monitoring systems. The actual beam depends from several different parameters (including the type of object to be detected). Data source: Finmeccanica.
  • Exclusive Economic Zone
    Maritime area beyond and adjacent to the territorial sea in which the coastal state exercises sovereign rights for the purposes of exploring and exploiting, conserving and managing the natural resources, whether living or non-living, the seabed and its subsoil and the superjacent waters. Its breadth is 200 nautical miles from the straight baselines from which the territorial sea is measured (UNCLOS, Arts. 55, 56 and 57). Data source: Juan Luis Suárez de Vivero, Atlas of the European Seas and Oceans
  • Frontex operations
    Frontex has, in the past few years, carried out several sea operations at the maritime borders of the EU. The blue shapes indicate the approximate extend of these operations. Data source: Migreurop Altas.
  • Mobile phone coverage
    Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) network coverage. Data source: Collins Mobile Coverage.
  • Oil and gas platforms
    Oil and gas platforms in the Mediterranean. Data source:
  • Search and Rescue Zone
    An area of defined dimensions within which a given state is has the responsibility to co-ordinate Search and Rescue operations, i.e. the search for, and provision of aid to, persons, ships or other craft which are, or are feared to be, in distress or imminent danger. Data source: IMO availability of search and rescue (SAR) services - SAR.8/Circ.3, 17 June 2011.
  • Territorial Waters
    A belt of sea (usually extending up to 12 nautical miles) upon which the sovereignty of a coastal State extends (UNCLOS, Art. 2). Data source: Juan Luis Suárez de Vivero, Atlas of the European Seas and Oceans

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