20/10 Alarm Phone alerted to vessel in distress in the Western Med, returned to Morocco

21.10.2016 / 16:38 / Western Mediterranean Sea

Watch The Med Alarm Phone Investigations – 20th of October 2016

Case name: 2016_10_20-WM123
Situation: Alarm Phone alerted to 1 emergency situation in the Western Med
Status of WTM Investigation: Concluded
Place of Incident: Western Mediterranean Sea

Summary of the Case: On Thursday the 20th of October 2016, at 9.11am, our Alarm Phone shift team received a call from a Moroccan number. The person told us that there were seven men on a zodiac in the Western Mediterranean Sea, moving from Tangier to Tarifa. While we were able to re-establish contact to the boat once more, we could not gather more details about their situation.

At 9.17am, our shift team was informed by a contact person to a boat in distress in the Western Mediterranean Sea. We received a phone number of one of the travellers. While we reached them at 9.24am, the connection was unstable and it was difficult to make out what they were saying. We did learn that the boat had started at 00.30am from Tangier and was on its way to Tarifa. They had lost orientation and before we could gather more details on the situation, the connection broke off. When we tried to call again, several times, the phone could not be reached. The contact person informed us that he was also unable to reach the boat.

We then alerted the Spanish search and rescue organisation Salvamento Maritimo about what could have possibly been two separate cases of distress. Salvamento Maritimo informed the Moroccan coastguards to the situation and informed us then at 1.33pm that they were still waiting for a confirmation from the Moroccan authorities. At 2.14pm, they informed us that a boat with 7 people had been found by the Moroccan authorities. While it cannot be exhaustively verified that this was the boat in question, it seems likely. Later in the afternoon, our initial contact person confirmed that the people had been returned to Morocco. It seems very likely that we were dealing with one boat in distress the entire time.
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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