1/ Can you present yourself and explain your position onboard?
My name is José, I am 57 years old and live in Majorca (Spain). It is my first mission with SOS MEDITERRANEE. I am a retired navy officer, a supply colonel. I joined the Ocean Viking in her 5th rotation as a Research and Evidence Officer (REO). My role is to gather all information related to our operations and collect evidences. I write down the timeline of events during searches and rescue operations. I record and archive all conversations (radio, VHF, phone, mails), actions and decisions the Ocean Viking takes. And finally, I follow the track of our vessel on the electronic chart, including on the radar. SOS MEDITERRANEE is very transparent about its operations. We have a logbook online, www.onboard.sosmediterranee.org , that I update daily with the mains events that have occurred. On this web page, everyone interested may find details about the way we follow the international laws at sea, how we ask for coordination to the maritime authorities and when and to whom we ask for Places of Safety for the survivors onboard. This work allows our teams to look back at our actions and improve our procedures. It is also a very effective tool to testify about the situation in the Central Mediterranean, which is one of our main mandates.
2/ What are you wishes for 2020?
Like many people of my age in Europe, I wish to lose weight, something like fifteen kilos would be great but with ten, I could consider it’s enough. This wish, which is actually truthful, links surprisingly well with a second wish, a much deeper one. I wish that people who are living in less fortunate conditions than the European or occidental populations will not need to take the risk to die at sea anymore. Until now, it is the only solution that international communities’ leaders give to people in danger in Libya especially. They have no other way to escape than taking the sea in very dangerous conditions (flimsy boats, very few food and water, no lifejackets, bad weather…). I think, this summarises the tragedy and inconsistency of the world’s situation, in one part of the world, people want to lose weight, and in another part, others hope not to lose their lives at sea.
3/ What message do you want to share with the supports?
First of all, I want to thank all our supporters for their vital contribution. Without their commitment, none of our actions would be possible. I am very thankful to the generous contribution of private donors that are almost entirely financing our NGO. They allow SOS MEDITERRANEE to work in the best way possible, with a good asset like the Ocean Viking and with professional crew team members and good equipment that provides the survivors, as well as our crew, the highest safety in the operations we can hope for. And money is needed. Every day at sea costs 14,000 euros. But money is not everything. I also want to share my deepest thoughts and gratefulness for the volunteers that take time to raise awareness in various occasions, from festivals to concerts, conferences or school visits. Reaching a large public, and especially explaining to the new generations what it is happening in the Central Mediterranean is vital. The situation cannot change if people are not aware of it, and not understanding the difficult context we operate in. All this support, gathered together, makes who SOS MEDITERRANEE is.
Photo Credits: Laurence Bondard / SOS MEDITERRANEE