Three Years of Expertise at Sea

Exactly three years ago, on February 26, 2016, SOS MEDITERRANEE lifted anchor and set out to save people from drowning on the world’s deadliest migration route – the central Mediterranean between Italy and Libya. It was to be the first operation of the newly founded sea rescue organisation. The crew, consisting of mainly trained seafarers and first-aiders, awaited an unprecedented reality.

Already in the first days at sea on board the chartered ship Aquarius, it became clear that an almost unbearable humanitarian catastrophe was taking place in the Mediterranean: hundreds of children, women and men found themselves without life jackets, on completely overcrowded unseaworthy boats, dehydrated, unable to swim, without being able to navigate the boats. These people had to be rescued – in burning sunshine and dangerous storms, day and night, always with the certainty that if we did not act immediately, these people had no chance to survive. In three years, the organisation and its sea rescuers have developed an ever-growing and refined expertise in the search for people in distress and in the rescue of survivors, in order to be best prepared to save lives despite operating under the most adverse circumstances.

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This particular know-how has been built up thanks to the rescue teams, usually made up of a rescue coordination team and around fifty maritime professionals. All are experienced in the field of sea rescue. These trained seafarers rotate on the ship. In the course of time, the team has become more professional, allowing for the continuous development and improvement of our rescue methods. Currently, a knowledge transfer strategy is being developed to share our experience in sea rescue and the resulting complex knowledge acquired with other actors at sea. We are developing a comprehensive training concept and corresponding modules.

A ship adapted for rescue at sea, the Aquarius, also supported the training of this expertise. With it, a year-round operation was possible, which allowed our rescue teams to be on duty at any time of the year and under any weather conditions. In three years, SOS MEDITERRANEE has proven its competence and important role at sea, saving a total of 29,523 children, women and men.

We had to return the Aquarius to its owner in 2018. At the moment, we are looking for a comparable ship, because the situation on the Mediterranean is not yet solved, on the contrary, it is getting worse. Every day an average of at least four humans drown while fleeing across the Mediterranean [1]– the number of unreported cases is unknown. A professional and safe rescue on the high seas is still needed.

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Thanks to Théo for realising the video.

Music for the video
Title: New Andromeda Theory
Copyright holder: Wasaru
[1]: Missing Migrants Project, International Organisation for Migration (IOM)