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M/V HAMBURG BRIDGE RESCUED 307 MIGRANTS IN THE MIDDLE OF MEDITERRANEAN SEA, 21 APRIL 2016

M.V. HAMBURG BRIDGE departed FOS, France on 21st April 2016 bound to Port Said, Egypt.

On her passage to destination Port on 24th April 2016 at 1956 SMT, the vessel received a telex from RCC Malta instructing the vessel to proceed to a position where there is a possible boat with Migrants in distress. Upon checking the position, the distressed position was 11.2 nm bearing 232 degrees from M.V. Hamburg Bridge. Vessel management was informed and vessel deviated from her original course and proceeded to distressed position.

On 24th April 2016 at 2050 SMT, the distressed boat was located at a distance of 3 nm from own vessel. RCC Malta was informed and instructed the vessel to keep shadowing the boat at a safe distance and wait for further instructions.

The vessel received information from RCC Malta that there is one Coast Guard vessel proceeding in the area and still far away. Also, there is another commercial vessel in the vicinity which may provide leeway in an eventual rescue.

Owing to darkness, vessel had waited for daylight to safely effect the rescue operations as agreed upon with RCC Malta. Vessel Management was informed about the situation.

Master received advice from vessel Management for safe rescue operations. The Master activated vessel emergency rescue. All ship’s staffs were gathered and discussed the rescue operation plan. All staffs were instructed to give priority to safety and security of the crew & vessel considering a large number of people to be rescued with approximate number of 200 people as informed by RCC Malta.

Vessel received instruction from RCC Malta via phone to effect rescue operations once daylight begins as the weather is expected to deteriorate in the afternoon. Vessel Management was informed.

When daylight begins, vessel started approaching closer to the boat and made close distance of 0.18 nm, sighted a lot of people in the boat. RCC Malta and vessel Management was informed with the situation.

Vessel staffs sent heaving line to the boat and the boat was safely alongside to the vessel with fore and aft painter made fast. Vessel crew established communication with the people on the boat and the Migrants informed that there are about 300 persons on the boat. RCC Malta was informed.

The rescue operations took about 2 hours and accounted a total of 307 Migrants. The vessel heads toward SICILY, Italy as instructed by RCC Malta. Later on, the vessel was instructed to proceed to “TARANTO, Italy” for disembarkation of all Migrants where appropriate medical and sanitary provisions were made available.

Few of the Migrants were reported suffering from stomach ache, vomiting, dizziness and minor bruises. Ship staffs administered first aid. No reported serious health conditions.

The Migrants were temporarily sheltered at B-deck (outside of accommodation), tally office and gymnasium. Later, Migrants occupying B-deck were transferred to steering gear room (basketball court) due to strong wind and cold weather (WNW x BF6, 18 deg. C). Available blankets, winter jackets and beddings were provided. Food and water were served to all Migrants.

Vessel had requested RCC Malta to provide a naval/ coast guard escort as soon as it can be made available due to the large number of Migrants on board were the vessel and crew’s safety and security may be compromised in case of any untoward incident may arise.

The Master received reply from RCC Malta and acknowledges vessel’s concern and informed that they are trying their best to provide escort as soon as possible.

The Master received a call from French Patrol vessel “JEAN FRANCOIS DENIAU” that the Patrol vessel will made rendezvous along the vessel route to offer escort. Later on, RCC Malta informed the vessel that the French Patrol vessel will not be able to meet as informed due to technical issues of the patrol vessel.

Vessel arrived at Taranto Port and was escorted by one Coast Guard boat until the vessel was safely alongside to berth.

Shore Medical Team came on board and checked the health conditions of all Migrants. Port Authorities including Police men, P&I Representative, Immigration Officers and Red Cross personnel came on board to facilitate the disembarkation of all Migrants.

All Migrants were safely disembarked and vessel departed Taranto Port and resumed her passage to destination Port.

“Going beyond the call of duty and the show of humanity and humane hospitality in saving hundreds of lives successfully makes us proud and honoured which will be remembered for a life time”.

- Master and Crew of M.V. Hamburg Bridge