13/01 Alarm Phone alerted to one vessel in distress in the Central Med, rescued

14.01.2017 / 10:58 / Central Mediterranean Sea, Libya

Watch The Med Alarm Phone Investigations – 13th of January 2017

Case name: 2017_01_13-CM97
Situation: Alarm Phone alerted to one boat in distress in the Central Med
Status of WTM Investigation: Concluded
Place of Incident: Central Mediterranean Sea

Summary of the Case: On Friday the 13th of January 2017, our WatchTheMed Alarm Phone shift team was alerted by Father Zerai at 3.31pm to a boat in distress in the Central Mediterranean Sea, carrying about 90 people. We tried to reach them on their Thuraya satellite phone but were unable to get through. We checked their Thuraya credit and saw that they had enough credit to make several distress calls. At 4.30pm we informed the crew of the Aquarius humanitarian vessel about the situation. At 5.10pm we were able to speak to the travellers. We were unable to find out where they had left from and what their current GPS position was. We found out that they were wearing lifejackets and were able to see some fishing vessels in the vicinity.

We spoke to the Italian Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) in Rome at 5.20pm and passed on the information we had. We reconnected with the traveller at 5.30pm and they stated that they were about 75 people. Later we learned that they were about 90 people. At 6.30pm we spoke to them again and instructed them how to find their GPS position. They also informed us that they could see a big vessel nearby which, however, was not reacting to their calls for help. At 6.35pm they told us that they had departed from Sabratha 9 hours earlier.

At 6.50pm they finally passed on their GPS position to us which we passed on to MRCC Rome. At 7.37pm, MRCC Rome thanked us for the provided information and told us that rescue operations were ongoing. At 7.45pm we received an updated position from the travellers which we passed on to MRCC Rome. The travellers also confirmed that they had been approached by a speed boat and been asked about the number of people on board. Afterwards we were not able to reach the boat anymore.

At 10pm, MRCC Rome confirmed that the boat had been rescued and all people on board were safe. On the day, about 550 people were rescued in the Central Mediterranean Sea, and two dead bodies were recovered.
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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