Last night, the 6-person crew of AURORA, together with the sailing vessel NADIR, rescued over 80 people from distress at sea and is waiting for the allocation of a Port of Safety. The AURORA, a former rescue ship of the British Royal National Lifeboat Institution, is the latest addition to the Sea Watch rescue fleet and can respond quickly to sea emergencies thanks to its high speed.
In the evening of May 29th, the organization Watch The Med Alarm Phone reported a boat in distress within the Maltese search and rescue zone with over 80 people on board, which was already taking on water. The sailing vessel NADIR of the organization RESQSHIP first reached the position of the boat and was able to provide the people with life jackets. Shortly afterwards, Sea-Watch’s rescue ship AURORA arrived and began evacuating the people. All the people were brought safely on board the AURORA and given the best possible basic care. Although European authorities were aware of the distress case, only a FRONTEX drone circled over the boat while no rescue was initiated. After the rescue, AURORA set course north, making several requests to the Italian authorities to allocate a Port of Safety. The rescued people on board are still waiting to be allowed to disembark.
“Once again, it is civil society that rescues where Europe fails. Together with Alarm Phone and RESQSHIP, we successfully brought more than 80 people from distress at sea safely onboard the AURORA. They all have a right to live in safety. After being abandoned by European authorities on the open sea, this is the least they’re entitled to.” Jasmine Iozzelli, Head of Mission aboard the AURORA.
“It is highly cynical that in the face of a life-threatening situation, once again there was no response or help from the relevant European authorities. Only a Frontex drone was sent to watch people in imminent danger of drowning,” said Carla Kneuper, a crew member on the NADIR.
The AURORA SAR is a British 14-meter “Trent” class lifeboat specially converted for use in the Mediterranean. AURORA is classified as a lifeboat in its flag state, the United Kingdom, where it was part of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) fleet until 2019. AURORA can reach a top speed of 25 knots, making it one of the fastest vessels in the civil search and rescue fleet in the central Mediterranean. The crew of the rescue ship consists of 6 people, including a medical doctor who can provide first aid on board.
Sea-Watch operates the AURORA with technical support from the British organization Search And Rescue Relief (SAR-Relief / SARR), which has supported Sea-Watch in the technical implementation of several projects since its establishment in 2019. In addition, SARR supported the refitting and equipping of the independently operated Louise Michel lifeboat, funded by artist Banksy.
“Fast intervention can be the difference between life and death, with every maritime emergency a race against time. The AURORA provides a dynamic addition to the civil fleet, and is a response to the grotesque reality that states are consistently failing in their duty to rescue. The speed of this agile vessel makes her well suited for rapid deployment, challenging a deadly status quo which abandons people to drown at European borders.” says Hannah Wallace Bowman, Sea-Watch Search & Rescue Coordinator.