“Seafarers’ Award” 2021: the crews of MARE JONIO and MAERSK ETIENNE awarded in Copenhagen

The Official motivation for awarding the crews of MARE JONIO and Maersk ETIENNE:

The tanker Maersk Etienne responded to a request to help twenty-seven people in distress in the Mediterranean 4 August 2020. By responding and aiding the shipwrecked people, the captain and crew of Maersk Etienne were only carrying out their duty under international law. However, what should have been a relatively simple question of taking the persons to shore, turned into thirty-eight days of political bargaining and desperation, as no nation would allow the them to disembark. The captain and his crew did their best to care for the people on board, but the situation was untenable, with three people jumping overboard in an attempt to swim to shore. The crew managed to get them onboard again quickly, but the incident highlighted the desperate situation.

After thirty-eight days, Maersk Etienne called for medical help and only the NGO-ship Mare Jonio responded. The people were transferred to Mare Jonio whose medical staff had examined the physical and mental health of the recued persons. Mare Jonio is owned and operated by the NGO Mediterranea Saving Humans.

In accordance with the spirit and purpose of Søfartsprisen, the captains of Maersk Etienne and Mare Jonio have been nominated because they displayed inordinate courage and immense humanitarian care in a desperate situation. Both captains and their crews have, in each of their actions, demonstrated the strong spirit of seafarers who never turn their back on people in distress at sea. In addition, the 38 days of political stand-off, with no view to an immediate solution, highlighted the unsustainable situation in the Mediterranean, where safe and prompt disembarkation is not guaranteed. Mediterranean Saving Humans stepped up and provided medical examination, transfer, and, finally, disembarkation. In doing so, the NGO did what neither the Danish flag state, nor the EU, or any other stakeholder involved were able to do despite tremendous diplomatic efforts.

Here the statement of the Danish Shipping Association:

The speech of the Head of Mission of Mediterranea Saving Humans, Giuseppe Caccia