Two naval construction ships assist refugees in the Mediterranean

Naval ships providing aid to refugees in the Mediterranean
Jan De Nul’s stabilization ship brings aboard 15 people who were found drifting in the Mediterranean Sea (Jan De Nul)

Posted on November 17, 2022 7:42 pm by

Maritime Executive

As the migrant crisis across the Mediterranean continues, more merchant ships encounter people at sea or are called upon to provide assistance. This week, two more merchant ships were involved as global humanitarian aid groups continue to call for a more comprehensive response.

Dutch construction and contracting company Van Oord has reported that it is the latest company to offer assistance at the authorities’ request. Cable receptacle Nexus (6,500 dwt) with a crew of 27 was crossing the Mediterranean on 16 November when the Rescue Coordination Center in Malta contacted her. They were asked to help a small boat loaded with refugees which was in danger due to bad weather.

“It is not known how many days the refugees, all men, were on the sea voyage,” Van Oord said in a report on the rescue. Their origin is also unknown, due to language barriers.

The Van Oord ship has been asked for assistance by the Maltese authorities (Van Oord)

The Nexus She was able to locate the small boat overnight between the 16th and 17th of November, and determined that there were 49 men on board. The company stated that all 49 refugees appeared to be in good health but were frail, and some had hypothermia. The Nexus crew provided them with food, warm drinks, and a safe position on deck.

In coordination with the Maltese Coast Guard, it was agreed that the cable-laying vessel would head to Malta. She reached the island late on the 17th of November with the plan to transfer the refugees to the Maltese Coast Guard.

Van Oord’s report came just days after Belgian engineering, construction and maintenance company Jan De Nul encountered refugees in the Mediterranean. The company’s offshore installation ship Simon Stephen (35,930 t) fell on a sailing boat drifting in the Mediterranean Sea on 10 November.

According to the company’s report, their crew spotted the dhow approximately 45 miles off the Algerian coast. They reported that there were eight men, two women and five children in the small boat that had been drifting for several days in the Mediterranean.

“The crew took the refugees aboard. All 15 were healthy, but weak and hypothermic. The crew gave them food, drinks, warm clothes, a bed and blankets to recover. They spent the night on the boat and were taken away by the Algerian coast guard on Friday morning.”

Simon Stevin takes on board 15 people found off Algeria (Jan De Nul)

The United Nations and NGOs operating in the Mediterranean have reported significant increases in the number of people attempting to cross the Mediterranean from Africa. They recently reported that as political climates change in Europe, they are facing more resistance to their efforts. Italy for example blocked An NGO’s effort to land male refugees at the beginning of November forced one ship to divert to France.

Under SOLAS regulations, ships are required to provide assistance and deliver individuals found in distress to a safe port. However, the lack of a comprehensive policy remains controversial including the role of flag states when assisting ships. In August 2020, the tanker Maersk Etienne found itself stuck in confrontation For 38 days after helping 27 migrants, they were rescued with no country agreeing to allow the ship to disembark the personnel.

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