05/08: Alarm Phone in contact with 3 people in tiny fibre glass boat off Libya, rescued by GOLFO AZZURO but blocked from disembarking for 4 days

07.08.2017 / 18:44 / Central Mediterranean Sea

Watch The Med Alarm Phone Investigations – 5th of August 2017

Case name: 2017_08_05-CM114
Situation: Alarm Phone in contact with 3 people in tiny fibre glass boat off Libya, rescued by GOLFO AZZURO but blocked from disembarking for 4 days
Status of WTM Investigation: Concluded
Place of Incident: Central Mediterranean Sea

Summary of the Case: On Saturday the 5th of August 2017 at 8pm, the Alarm Phone was directly called from a tiny fibre glass boat with 3 persons on board, who had left from Zuwarah, Libya. They were worrying that their very small engine might stop soon. At 8.26pm, we talked to them again, they were still in Libyan waters, but their engine was working better and they were heading in the direction of international waters. At 8.48am, we informed the Italian Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) about the boat and forwarded all information we had received so far, additionally also via email at 9.02pm. At 10.02pm and again at 10.30pm and 11pm, the travellers called us again and provided us with updated coordinates. In the meantime, they had reached international waters. Each time, we forwarded the new coordinates to the Italian MRCC via phone and email and were told that the coastguard had started a rescue operation. Almost three hours later, at 1.50am, the travellers called us the next time. They told us that their engine had stopped working and forwarded their latest GPS position to us. We asked them to call the Italian MRCC directly. At 2am, we recharged their satellite phone’s credit, and afterwards talked again with the MRCC, who had received a direct call from the travellers in the meantime. At 2.33am, we saw on marinetraffic.com that the NGO rescue vessel GOLFO AZZURO was the closest vessel to the tiny boat. We try to contact the crew directly via Whatsapp, satellite phone and email, but did not reach them immediately. In another call to the Italian MRCC at 6.10am, we learned that they had not yet found the boat, but were still searching for it. At 7.05am, we informed the crew of the rescue plane MOONBIRD about the boat in distress. Afterwards, we tried to reach the travellers again, but without success. At 8.16am, the crew of the MOONBIRD informed us that they have taken off and will search for the boat, with an estimated time of arrival at the last known position at 9.20am. At 9.30am, we saw that the GOLFO AZZURO seemed to search in this area as well. At 11am, the crew of the MOONBIRD wrote to us that they were searching in the area, as well as three rescue vessel, but that they had not found the boat yet. However, at 2.15pm, the crew informed us that the MRCC had confirmed to them after landing, that the GOLFO AZZURO had just rescued the 3 travellers at 2.05pm. But afterwards, they were affected by the blockade of the GOLFO AZZURO, which was neither allowed to disembark on Lampedusa, nor on Malta or Sicily for several days. Thus, they had to wait in front of the port of Pozzallo and were only able to disembark four days later.
Last update: 07:39 Sep 07, 2017
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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