Bei rauer See werden bei einem komplexen Einsatz 92 Menschen aus einem Schlauchboot gerettet

[EYE OF THE PHOTOGRAPHER] This picture encapsulates all components of this incredible operation

Back on board

“Here I am back on board. For the past three years, I have been covering the mobilization of civil society for the rescue of people doomed to die on the high seas. Here I am back on board for a seventh rotation in the Central Mediterranean, on this incredible new ship, the Ocean Viking. In July last year, I was on board transiting from Poland to Marseille, but this was the first time I was heading to international waters off the coast of Libya on board the new ship of SOS MEDITERRANEE. We carried out three Search and Rescue (SAR) operations in the first week. 276 people were rescued.”

The photo

“I took this photo upon the third rescue. During this operation, I could once again witness the professionalism of the SOS MEDITERRANEE SAR team. We were surrounded by several ships, a few miles away from an oil platform, in 2.5 meter-waves. Everything we study in training, this whole method that was tested, proven, approved, taught after hundreds of rescues: here again, the whole procedure was applied very precisely. And yet the situation was challenging in stormy seas. I don’t know how many rescues I’ve participated in, but this one from memory is one of the most complex in view of the sea conditions.

All in all, I chose this photo to illustrate this “Eye of The Photographer”, although it is rather badly composed and not particularly remarkable. It encapsulates in a single frame all the components of this incredible February 19th operation.

The operation

“On this picture, you can see Easy 1 handing out life jackets to the boat in distress, waves are kept behind to allow the driver to avoid accidentally crushing the fragile boat ahead and gently push it away from the oil platform to avoid any collision; Easy 3, which was deployed due to the difficult conditions, can be seen in-between two waves, ready to go fetch any emergency flotation device in case people fall into the water; the Ocean Viking is maintaining a position near to the rescue scene in case flotation devices need to be launched or any medical cases require immediate evacuation. I took the picture from Easy 2 in a “watchdog” position on the opposite side of Easy 1, for a complete 360-degree view of the boat in distress. In the background, you can see the Sabratha oil platform, as well as merchant ships. In the foreground, a wave breaks in this grey and troubled Mediterranean Sea.”

The problem with photography is its difficulty to do justice to the sea. Photography crushes, flattens, reduces these thousands of cubic meters of water that we climb and descend. I will have to leave it to your imagination. If it can help, I can tell you that on that day, you had to hold on tight. Although I’m not very sensitive to seasickness, it was difficult to focus on the horizon. People were throwing up overboard one after the other on a rubber boat that could have broken at any moment if the SAR team had not been able to control the crowd. This is part of the human management of rescues.

We made 4 round trips, 25 people on Easy 1, 17 people on Easy 2. In less than two hours, everyone was on board, safe and sound. This efficiency is necessary, but it’s also remarkable, superb…

I want people to understand that when they support SOS MEDITERRANEE, they support people dedicated to one mission, to save lives. I also want them to know that they are supporting professionals with an astounding efficiency!

Photo and text: Anthony Jean / SOS MEDITERRANEE

Anthony Jean joined the team of the Ocean Viking as a photographer during the last mission from February 15th until March 8th. This picture illustrates a challenging operation at February 19th – 92 people were rescued.

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