Mediterranean #2

01 / Nov / 2018 04 / Nov / 2018

Mission Logbook

At 1 p.m. on Thursday 1 November, the Mare Jonio, Mediterranea Saving Humans' mother ship, finally left the port of Palermo, after its first technical stopover that allowed the vessel to be fine-tuned and all the authorised paperwork required by the Port Authority to be completed. A stop during which we felt the embrace of the city of Palermo, from the visit on board of its mayor Leoluca Orlando, to the civil pilgrimage of dozens of schoolchildren, families, Organisations and committees, hundreds of citizens who made us feel all their support.
And, in these hours, our first thought goes to Sicily, a land so hospitable and so tormented by bad weather, the tragic consequences of which cannot be attributed, once again, to 'fatality'. The same thought and the same closeness goes to all the areas of Italian territory that find themselves in the same situation.

Mediterranea's second mission immediately set a course eastwards, to circumnavigate Sicily and reach the Central Mediterranean. Having passed the Strait of Messina, at 6.30 a.m. on Friday 2 November we were reached by a radio communication from the Catania Harbour Master's Office, asking us to intervene on a possible SAR event off the city: an emergency AIS signal, probably coming from a lifebuoy that had fallen overboard, which once verified proved to be insubstantial. After two hours of searching the area, CP Catania released us. We continued on towards Capo Passero, which we rounded at 9.30 am, and then headed towards Malta. At 17.30, we entered Maltese territorial waters where we met up with Alex&Co., the support vessel for this second mission, on board which there are SAR experts, paramedics, linguistic-cultural mediators and lawyers specialised in asylum and migration law, together with journalists and photo-operators. At 19h, with Alex&Co. on sight, we start sailing south from the Maltese SAR zone towards the Libyan one, which we reach during the night.

At 4.30 a.m. on Saturday 3 November, while we are patrolling the Libyan SAR area in the stretch between the towns of Al Khums and Tripoli, the weather and sea conditions begin to deteriorate, with the arrival of a heavy atmospheric disturbance. We therefore decide to sail gradually up towards the northwest, but the wind changes again and a gale arrives with winds of up to 50 knots and waves reaching 5 metres in height. We turn south to take the gale from astern and leave it behind us and, at the same time, get closer to Alex&Co. and ensure safe navigation for both boats. Together, at this point, we head towards the island of Lampedusa, where we arrive at 5.30pm.

Despite adverse weather and sea conditions, four hundred miles travelled from 1 to 4 November for the start of the second observation and monitoring mission in the Central Mediterranean.

Foto di: Mich Seixas
Foto di: Mich Seixas
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