Sign up for Our newsletter

New cases and investigations settlement deadlines, and news straight to your inbok.

SITUATION RECAP
Last update 25/08/2018 (All times in UTC+2)

Rescue operation North of Tunisia, 5 survivors

 

– On Friday, on its way to Marseille, Aquarius overheard a VHF call from a sailing vessel, reporting a boat “with migrants on board” at 10 nautical miles from Aquarius position.

– Aquarius proceeded to the position to assess the situation and stabilise if necessary. It informed the Tunisian and Italian MRCCs about the alert.

– After Aquarius RHIB had stabilised the boat in distress, a Tunisian patrol boat arrived on scene. 2 people jumped into the water without lifejackets and were immediately rescued by the Aquarius RHIB. The 3 other people onboard the rubber boat were rescued a few moments later and transferred safely onboard the Aquarius, with the agreement of the Tunisian patrol boat.

– Aquarius stood-by in international waters, waiting for clarification about the disembarkation of the 5 survivors.

– On Saturday afternoon, a Tunisian Navy vessel approached Aquarius to transfer the 5 survivors. Aquarius requested it to standby while it sought  guidance from UNHCR, since it remained concerned that returning the survivors to their home country could be a breach of international refugee law. The Tunisian Navy vessel acknowledged and left the area at the end of the afternoon.

– UNHCR conducted individual skype interviews with the 5 survivors in order to provide guidance to Aquarius.

– Aquarius discussed the feedback of UNHCR with the 5 survivors so that they could make an informed decision about their next steps. All five survivors decided to go back to Tunisia because of the lack of other options.

– Aquarius awaited instructions from MRCC Tunis regarding the next steps of the operation.

– The 5 survivors were transferred onto a Tunisian Navy boat on Saturday 25th of August at 8 AM.

– Aquarius resumed navigating towards Marseille, France.

August 17, 2018
12:18

Aquarius hears a VHF conversation about a boat with “migrants” on board

SAR Operations > Tunisian Navy boat (2018.08.17-25)

Aquarius hears a VHF conversation between a sailing boat and the Tunisian Navy. The former informs the Tunisian Navy…

Aquarius hears a VHF conversation between a sailing boat and the Tunisian Navy. The former informs the Tunisian Navy that a small rubber boat with 5 “migrants” onboard is in positon 37°28.1N 010°55.0E. The sailing boat provided the 5 people with water. Aquarius is approximately 10 nautical miles from the rubber boat’s position. It alters course and proceeds towards the position provided.

Latitude: 37.525
Longitude: 10.978
Read More
13:32

Aquarius informs the Italian MRCC and Tunisian RCC and asks for clarification about coordinating authority

SAR Operations > Tunisian Navy boat (2018.08.17-25)

Email from Aquarius to ITMRCC and TNRCC “Dear Sir, While patrolling M/V Aquarius investigated a boat with people in…

Email from Aquarius to ITMRCC and TNRCC

“Dear Sir,
While patrolling M/V Aquarius investigated a boat with people in danger in position 37° 25’N at 010° 51’E. I am reporting to you
that the situation is assessed as highly dangerous for the people on board. It is a small rubber boat with no engine and
approximately 10 people onboard.
I have every reason to believe that the Distress phase exists, because the target is an unseaworthy boat, overcrowded, without
any life-saving appliance such as lifejacket or liferaft.
We are currently approaching the boat to assess the situation and stabilize if necessary.
I will keep you informed as soon as I have more information.
Please acknowledge receipt of this message and inform us who is the coordinating authority for this case.
Best Regards”

Read More
14:07

Aquarius calls the Tunisian MRCC, is told that “the office is closed”, and eventually given another number to contact

SAR Operations > Tunisian Navy boat (2018.08.17-25)

Aquarius calls the Tunisian MRCC on the phone to update about the situation. Tunisian MRCC replies “Can you call…

Aquarius calls the Tunisian MRCC on the phone to update about the situation. Tunisian MRCC replies “Can you call back on Monday? Our working hours are over, tomorrow is a day off. Our office is closed.” Aquarius details the situation and is given another phone number to contact.

Read More
14:35

Tunisian Patrol Boat arrives on scene, two people jump into the water from the rubber boat without lifejackets. A RHIB rescues them and transfers the three other, after Tunisian Patrol Boat said “take them all”

SAR Operations > Tunisian Navy boat (2018.08.17-25)

Due to the risk of loss of life, Aquarius rescued on its RHIB the two people who jumped into…

Due to the risk of loss of life, Aquarius rescued on its RHIB the two people who jumped into the water from the rubber boat without lifejackets.

From the Tunisian Patrol Boat, a voice says “take them all, take them all”. Aquarius team transfers the three other people from the rubber boat onto the RHIB.

 

Read More
14:36

Italian MRCC replies to Aquarius that Tunisian MRCC is taking responsibility of the case

SAR Operations > Tunisian Navy boat (2018.08.17-25)

Replying to the email sent by Aquarius, ITMRCC stresses that the rubber boat is in the “Tunisian SRR” and…

Replying to the email sent by Aquarius, ITMRCC stresses that the rubber boat is in the “Tunisian SRR” and instructs Aquarius to “report to the competent SAR authority any information and follow her instructions.” The email also mentions that “MRCC Tunis is taking responsibility of the case”.

Read More
14:46

Aquarius informs the French MRCC and is asked to coordinate with Tunisian MRCC

SAR Operations > Tunisian Navy boat (2018.08.17-25)

Over the phone, Aquarius informs the French MRCC of the situation since the next port of call of the…

Over the phone, Aquarius informs the French MRCC of the situation since the next port of call of the Aquarius is Marseille (planned on Sunday 19th of August) and Italian MRCC denied coordination and Tunisian MRCC is not providing instructions. French MRCC asks to coordinate with TNRCC.

Read More
15:00

A RHIB proceeds to Tunisian Patrol Boat to ask for instructions, no instructions received. Tunisian Patrol Boat is informed that RHIB intends to bring the survivors onto Aquarius and does not object

SAR Operations > Tunisian Navy boat (2018.08.17-25)
16:52

Aquarius requests the provision of a Place of Safety to French MRCC since Marseille is the intended destination of the ship

SAR Operations > Tunisian Navy boat (2018.08.17-25)

Email from Aquarius to French MRCC, copying Italian MRCC and Tunisian Navy “Dear Sirs, During her voyage to the…

Email from Aquarius to French MRCC, copying Italian MRCC and Tunisian Navy

“Dear Sirs,

During her voyage to the port of Marseille for her port of call planned on Sunday 19th of August, MV Aquarius heard a VHF conversation alerting to a rubber boat in distress in position 37° 25’N at 010° 51’E. Aquarius was 10nm from the position and altered course to proceed to the target. I informed the Italian MRCC and Tunisian RCC by email that Aquarius was currently approaching the boat to assess the situation and stabilize if necessary and asked to be informed who was the coordinating authority of this case. The Italian MRCC replied that Tunisian MRCC is taking responsibility for the case. I did not receive a reply from the Tunisian RCC and received no instructions from the several Tunisian RCC numbers called over phone.

Aquarius approached the vessel to assess the medical situation on board and stabilise the boat. The 5 people onboard are Tunisian. We informed a Tunisian patrol boat arriving on scene that we would move away from the scene and handover coordination of the case to the Tunisian patrol board in order not to create complications. As the Tunisian patrol boat approached the rubber boat, two people jumped into the water without lifejackets. The fast rescue craft of Aquarius rescued the two men overboard and transferred the three other. Once rescued, the 5 Tunisian men said they would hurt themselves if transferred onto the Tunisian coast guard vessel, due to risks they would face if being brought back to Tunisia.

The Tunisian patrol boat was informed of all actions taken and had no objection. Called again, the Tunisian RCC provided no information and hung up the phone.

Given the situation and the intended voyage of the Aquarius to Marseille, would you kindly agree to provide a place of safety for these 5 people since it would release MV Aquarius from their obligations with minimum further deviation from our intended voyage, as per SOLAS Reg.33/1.1 and MSC 167 (78)/2.4? I will send a full SITREP and Maritime incident report to this RCC shortly

You can find below the table of the rescued people.

Please acknowledge receipt of this email.

Best Regards”

Read More
17:48

Aquarius informs the French MRCC that it will standby for instructions

SAR Operations > Tunisian Navy boat (2018.08.17-25)

Email from Aquarius to French MRCC, copying Italian MRCC and Tunisian Navy “Dear Sirs,I would like to inform you…

Email from Aquarius to French MRCC, copying Italian MRCC and Tunisian Navy

“Dear Sirs,
I would like to inform you that MV Aquarius is currently heading North to clear a TSS and will remain in standby in position 37°50.1 N 010°41.4 E. We will be awaiting instructions from the competent maritime authority.
Best Regards”

Read More
19:02

Aquarius requests authorisation to sail North to French MRCC and does not receive a reply

SAR Operations > Tunisian Navy boat (2018.08.17-25)

Email from Aquarius to French MRCC, copying Tunisian Navy and Italian MRCC “Dear Sirs,Thank you for acknowledging receipt of…

Email from Aquarius to French MRCC, copying Tunisian Navy and Italian MRCC

“Dear Sirs,
Thank you for acknowledging receipt of our email and for considering our request for a Place of Safety. I would like to bring to your attention that for administrative reasons, MV Aquarius must be in Marseille on Sunday 19th of August at midnight at the latest.
Therefore, I kindly request your authorization to start resuming our intended voyage North.
Best Regards”

Read More
22:14

Aquarius informs French MRCC and Tunisian Navy that it awaits instructions from a RCC

SAR Operations > Tunisian Navy boat (2018.08.17-25)

Email from Aquarius to French MRCC and Tunisian Navy “Dear Sirs,Further to our previous communications, I would like to…

Email from Aquarius to French MRCC and Tunisian Navy

“Dear Sirs,
Further to our previous communications, I would like to bring to your attention that my vessel is still in position 37°47.1 N 010°40.6, waiting for further instructions from a RCC. The 5 people onboard have expressed the fear of going back to Tunisia and informed us that they want to claim asylum. Our team is currently collecting their testimonies. Please find attached a preliminary sitrep being went to flag state and the emails sent and received by Aquarius
today.
Best Regards”

Read More
August 18, 2018
03:02

Aquarius updates the French MRCC and Tunisian Navy of situation onboard

SAR Operations > Tunisian Navy boat (2018.08.17-25)

Email from Aquarius to French MRCC and Tunisian Navy, copying Italian MRCC “Dear Sir, Please be informed that Aquarius…

Email from Aquarius to French MRCC and Tunisian Navy, copying Italian MRCC

“Dear Sir,

Please be informed that Aquarius is still on standby at position GPS 37°47`3N 010°43`8E after conducting rescue of 5 persons on a small rubber boat in the Tunisian SRR. Aquarius is awaiting instructions from any competent maritime authority to help organize the disembarkation of the 5 survivors in a place of safety. For the time being the condition of the survivors is good though, they do express a strong fear of returning to Tunisia (their country of origin). We will continue to update these RCCs. I thank you for any assistance in find a quick solution to this issue.

Best regards”

Read More
14:23

Aquarius asks the Tunisian Navy to standby as it is seeking guidance from UNHCR and explaining the situation to the 5 people onboard

SAR Operations > Tunisian Navy boat (2018.08.17-25)

Email from Aquarius to Tunisian Navy, copying French MRCC “Dear Sirs, I acknowledge receipt of your email of 13:34,…

Email from Aquarius to Tunisian Navy, copying French MRCC

“Dear Sirs,

I acknowledge receipt of your email of 13:34, 12:31 and 11:35. My current position is 37 46.8N 010 43.3E and I keep standing-by in this position. The vessel P610 is close to my position and I am in VHF contact with it. Please be advised that all 5 survivors have stated a real fear of being returned to Tunisia and have declared their intention to seek asylum. We are concerned that returning these people to Tunisia could be in breach of international refugee law. We are currently seeking guidance with UNHCR regarding this matter who have already informed us they are willing to support the situation and are we awaiting their further instructions.

For your information, the government in charge of the designation of a place of safety where the survivors will disembark from the assisting ship (M/V Aquarius) should take in consideration “The need to avoid disembarkation in territories where the lives and freedoms of those alleging a well-founded fear of persecution would be threatened is a consideration in the case of asylum-seekers and refugees recovered at sea.” (IMO Resolution MSC.167(78) Art. 6.17).

We will need some time to be able to clarify these point and to be able to explain to the 5 people on board the situation. Aquarius is configured for Search and Rescue and we are not in any way capable or willing to forcefully put someone on another vessel against their will. Please allow us the time to come to an understanding with all parties before proceeding.

In this regards, I kindly ask you to keep the vessel P610 in standby, the time needed for this clarification.

As per your request, we’ll keep this RCC informed. Thank you for your cooperation.
Best Regards”

(more…)

Read More
15:04

Tunisian Navy ship asks on VHF for an update and offers assistance

SAR Operations > Tunisian Navy boat (2018.08.17-25)

Tunisian Navy ship calls on VHF to ask for an update. Aquarius informs that it is in contact with…

Tunisian Navy ship calls on VHF to ask for an update.

Aquarius informs that it is in contact with the Tunisian authorities and seeking guidance from UNHCR. Tunisian Navy ship asks “so currently, you don’t need any assistance from us?”. Aquarius confirms that it does not need assistance. Tunisian Navy ship informs that it will remain on standby and can be contacted on VHF if any assistance is needed.

 

Read More
15:45

Aquarius informs Tunisian Navy that UNHCR will send representatives since Aquarius remains concerned that returning the survivors to their home country would be a breach of international refugee law

SAR Operations > Tunisian Navy boat (2018.08.17-25)

Email from Aquarius to Tunisian Navy, copying French MRCC “Dear Sir,The United Nation High Commission for Refugees has confirmed…

Email from Aquarius to Tunisian Navy, copying French MRCC

“Dear Sir,
The United Nation High Commission for Refugees has confirmed that they are sending representatives to conduct interviews with the survivors on board the Aquarius. We have not heard when this will happen. We believe that they are in contact with Tunisian authorities. We are still concerned that returning these survivors to their home country would be a breach of international refugee law, and we believe that the guidance of UNHCR is important to find the appropriate outcome.
Thank you for coordinating this event and I hope we can find a quick and suitable solution.
Best Regards”

(more…)

Read More
19:00

Aquarius updates the Tunisian Navy of situation onboard and thanks for the offer of assistance

SAR Operations > Tunisian Navy boat (2018.08.17-25)

Email from Aquarius to Tunisian Navy, copying French MRCC “Dear Sir,The situation on board the Aquarius remains stable. We…

Email from Aquarius to Tunisian Navy, copying French MRCC

“Dear Sir,
The situation on board the Aquarius remains stable. We are still awaiting confirmation from UNHCR. Please thank your warship for their offer of assistance earlier. If any other units are to be sent to Aquarius please inform us so we avoid such inconvenience and can inform the survivors. We need to be able to make sure that we do not stress them anymore. They remain very anxious and we need to be able to inform them of any changes before they happen.
Best Regards”

Read More
23:14

Aquarius contacts UNHCR awaiting their guidance

SAR Operations > Tunisian Navy boat (2018.08.17-25)

Email from Aquarius to UNHCR, copying Tunisian Navy “Dear Sirs, I understand that you intend to carry out some…

Email from Aquarius to UNHCR, copying Tunisian Navy

“Dear Sirs,

I understand that you intend to carry out some remote interviews with the survivors on board the Aquarius and offer some guidance to the ship as regards their special circumstances. I fully appreciate your support and I am ready to facilitate the interviews from tomorrow morning upon request. Please can you detail the process so we can explain it to the rescued people?

Please acknowledge

Best Regards”

(more…)

Read More
August 19, 2018
09:18

Aquarius informs Tunisian Navy that it remains near the standby position but is making way for the comfort of people on board due to swell

SAR Operations > Tunisian Navy boat (2018.08.17-25)

Email from Aquarius to Tunisian Navy, copying French MRCC “Dear Sirs, Please be aware that Aquarius is still staying…

Email from Aquarius to Tunisian Navy, copying French MRCC

“Dear Sirs,

Please be aware that Aquarius is still staying near the standby position within the Tunisian SRR but is now making way for the comfort of the people on board due to the slight increase in swell. We hope to have more information from UNHCR today and we will update this [MRCC] accordingly.

Best Regards”

Read More
18:06

Aquarius receives a distress alert for a wooden boat broadcasted to all ships via Navtex

SAR Operations > Tunisian Navy boat (2018.08.17-25)

The Maltese RCC alerts via Navtex all ships transitting in the area to a wooden boat in distress with…

The Maltese RCC alerts via Navtex all ships transitting in the area to a wooden boat in distress with about 30 people on board in position 34°25N 013°33E, in the Maltese Search and Rescue Region, 245 nautical miles from Aquarius. The alert requests all ships to keep a sharp lookout and to pass any information to RCC Malta.

Read More
18:40

Aquarius informs the Tunisian Navy that UNHCR has conducted individual interviews with the 5 survivors in order to provide guidance to Aquarius

SAR Operations > Tunisian Navy boat (2018.08.17-25)

Email from Aquarius to Tunisian Navy, copying French MRCC “Dear Sir, Please be informed that UNHCR has conducted the…

Email from Aquarius to Tunisian Navy, copying French MRCC

“Dear Sir,

Please be informed that UNHCR has conducted the interviews with the survivors on board. UNHCRs senior legal adviser will be sending his findings to his head of unit tomorrow at 09h00 Geneva time. The situation on board remains stable and we will remain near our standby area within the Tunisian SRR. We will continue to update this RCC with any developments.  

Best Regards”

(more…)

Read More
August 20, 2018
August 21, 2018
20:22

Aquarius seeks instructions from Tunisian Navy by email

SAR Operations > Tunisian Navy boat (2018.08.17-25)

In an email to the Tunisian Navy, Aquarius seeks information and instructions from the Tunisian MRCC, the coordinating authority…

In an email to the Tunisian Navy, Aquarius seeks information and instructions from the Tunisian MRCC, the coordinating authority of the case.

Aquarius stresses that as a vessel chartered to carry out rescue by two humanitarian organizations, it does not have the ability to force someone to return against their will. It requests clear instructions on how to proceed with the operation.

Read More
August 22, 2018
August 23, 2018
August 24, 2018
August 25, 2018