Between 4 and 6 December, the crew of Humanity 1 rescued 261 people from distress at sea in a total of three operations. Several of the operations were carried out together with the civilian ship Louise Michel.
On 6 December, the civilian rescue ships Humanity 1 and Louise Michel also witnessed a forced interception and illegal return of refugees to Libya by the so-called Libyan coast guard. Six survivors were left in the water by the so-called coast guard and subsequently brought aboard the Humanity 1.
Five days after the first rescue and after five requests for a place of safety, the Humanity 1 was assigned Bari, Italy on 9 December to bring the survivors ashore. Humanity 1’s captain repeatedly expressed safety concerns due to poor weather conditions on the over 300-nautical-mile route to Bari and requested the allocation of a closer port – without success. Despite the bad weather conditions, the vessel Humanity 1 reached Bari on 11 December and all 261 survivors were able to disembark.
The following chronology gives a detailed insight into the course of Humanity 1’s search and rescue operations as well as the communication with all relevant state authorities.
14:23 CET Humanity 1 receives information via email from Louise Michel about an overcrowded boat in distress with approximately 90 people spotted at 12:51 CET in position: 33 22 N 012 24 E. Their crew provided the people in distress with lifejackets. Louise Michel requests assistance via this email to any vessel in the vicinity.
15:31 CET MV Humanity 1 informs the Libyan Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (LYJRCC), Maltese Rescue Coordination Centre (MTRCC) and Italian Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre Rome (ITMRCC) about the received distress alert by Louise Michel and that Humanity 1 is proceeding towards the scene, about 28 NM away, to provide assistance. No response from authorities.
16:29 CET Humanity 1, in position 33°26 N 012°25 E, has visual contact with Louise Michel and the boat in distress. Louise Michel is the on-scene commander.
16:54 CET Humanity 1 launches both RHIBs to stand by and assess the situation of the distress case spotted by Louise Michel.
16:58 CET Humanity 1 bridge spots a white speedboat heading towards Louise Michel position. Louise Michel calls Humanity 1 via VHF to inform that the rubber boat is taking water and that they will start to embark people on board their vessel.
17:03 CET Humanity 1 sends an email to ITMRCC, MTRCC and LYJRCC to inform that both RHIBs are launched to assess the situation on scene. No response from authorities.
17:07 CET Humanity 1 RHIBs state that the white speedboat has a Libyan flag and four persons on board, one of them wearing a ski mask fully covering his face.
17:09 CET Louise Michel calls Humanity 1 via VHF to inform that all the shipwrecked people are on board their vessel.
17:10 CET Humanity 1, in international waters, overhears a communication on VHF of a man shouting: “Go back, this is Libya water!”.
17:17 CET Louise Michel calls Humanity 1 via VHF requesting to transfer the people on board Humanity 1. The captain of Humanity 1 requests an email stating the reasons for a transhipment.
17:25 CET The RHIB crew of Humanity 1 informs the captain that one of the men on the speedboat pulled out a machine gun.
17:58 CET The white speedboat is towing the empty rubber boat and leaving the scene with their lights off.
18:45 CET The rescue being completed by Louise Michel, both Humanity 1 RHIBs are recovered on board.
18:53 CET Humanity 1 spots an empty white rubber boat without engine in position 33°20 N 012°31 E. The empty boat is presumably the same rubber boat that was towed away from the so-called Libyan Coast Guard speedboat mentioned above in this chronology.
18:55 CET Humanity 1, along with ITMRCC, MTRCC and LYJRCC, receives a transhipment request via email from Louise Michel. Louise Michel does not have sufficient capacities to accommodate the survivors in a sheltered place to travel long distances. Furthermore, a transfer of the survivors to Humanity 1 is the only way to guarantee the urgently required medical assessments and treatment of the survivors, among which many suffer from hypothermia. The conditions of women and children require immediate treatment by a midwife which can be provided aboard Humanity 1.
20:24 CET Humanity 1 responds via email to Louise Michel, ITMRCC, MTRCC and LYJRCC and indicates to be available for a transhipment of survivors to ensure heated shelter and care for survivors by means of a board clinic and midwife on board. Humanity 1 states to wait for instructions of the rescue coordination centres. No response from authorities.
21:20 CET Humanity 1 calls the MRCC Bremen to ask for further instructions. MRCC Bremen confirms the receipt of email but gives no further instruction.
21:24 CET Humanity 1 calls MTRCC to ask for further instructions. They acknowledge receipt of the email and instruct Humanity 1 to standby for an answer via email.
22:34 CET Humanity 1 calls ITMRCC to ask for further instructions and inform them about having contacted all other authorities. ITMRCC acknowledges receipt of the emails but states that it is not responsible for this kind of request.
22:51 CET Humanity 1 has still not received instructions from any contacted rescue coordination centre (RCC). Since there is no coordination by the RCCs, the captain of Humanity 1 informs ITMRCC, MTRCC and LYJRCC via email that he will take further actions in coordination with the captain of Louise Michel to guarantee the safety of the rescued persons on board the Louise Michel. Humanity 1 informs about conducting the necessary transhipment of all survivors to be able to take care for the vulnerable cases as well as provide shelter for the survivors.
23:00 CET Humanity 1 calls Louise Michel via VHF to inform that Humanity 1 is getting ready for transhipment.
23:32 CET Both RHIBs of Humanity 1 are launched.
01:12 CET Disembarkation of all 103 survivors from Louise Michel is finished. Transhipment is complete.
01:32 CET Both RHIBs are recovered on board Humanity 1.
01:51 CET Humanity 1 informs ITMRCC, MTRCC and LYJRCC via email about the completion of the transhipment. Humanity 1 resumes navigation and waits for further instructions.
21:19 CET Humanity 1, in position 33°25 N 012°42 E, sends an email to LYJRCC, ITMRCC and MTRCC with the Maritime Incident Report attached. Humanity 1 requests a place of safety – as defined in the Annex to the SAR Convention, paragraphs 1.3.2 and 3.1.9 and in the IMO Resolution MSC.167(78)) – to promptly disembark all 103 survivors on board.
22:22 CET Humanity 1 receives a distress alert from Alarm Phone about a blue wooden boat in distress with an approximate of 50 persons on board.
22:49 CET Louise Michel informs Humanity 1 and relevant authorities that they are changing course and proceeding towards the indicated position to assess the situation.
23:19 CET Humanity 1 sends an email to ITMRCC, MTRCC, MRCC Bremen and LYJRCC to inform about the distress alert received via email and about proceeding towards the distress case, about 20 NM away, to provide assistance.
23:45 CET Humanity 1 informs Louise Michel via VHF about arriving on-scene. Louise Michel confirms that their RHIB has reached the boat in distress and is distributing life jackets to the shipwrecked persons. With their first assessment, they provide Humanity 1 with more details: it is a blue double deck wooden boat, high risk of capsizing, overcrowded with approximately 50 persons on board. Louise Michel requests Humanity 1 to take the on-scene coordination of the rescue.
23:56 CET Humanity 1 sends an email to ITMRCC, MTRCC, MRCC Bremen and LYJRCC to inform that it has arrived on scene and that Humanity 1 is the on-scene coordinator.
00:04 CET Humanity 1 launches both RHIBs to assess the situation.
00:18 CET Based on the assessment of Humanity 1 RHIB team, the imminent danger and necessity for immediate assistance is confirmed. The medium double deck wooden boat is very unstable and is rolling heavily, heeling dangerously on starboard side and being close to capsize and already taking water.
00:25 CET Humanity 1 sends an email to ITMRCC, MTRCC and LYJRCC to inform about the assessment of the Humanity 1 RHIB team and about proceeding with the rescue.
00:48 CET RHIB of Humanity 1 starts embarking persons from the boat in distress.
01:14 CET A military vessel under Libyan Flag arrives on scene and is standing by.
01:35 CET All 49 survivors are safely recovered on board the Humanity 1.
02:15 CET Humanity 1 informs ITMRCC, MTRCC and LYJRCC via email about the completion of the rescue.
02:19 CET Humanity 1 spots an empty boat with an engine.
02:21 CET Humanity 1, as on-scene coordinator, confirms via VHF that the rescue is completed to Louise Michel and that they are released from assistance.
03:21 CET Both RHIBs from Humanity 1 are recovered on board.
03:30 CET The empty wooden boat is set on fire by the Libyan military vessel, then they leave.
07:00 CET Humanity 1, in position 33°18 N 012°44 E, spots an overcrowded rubber boat.
07:11 CET Humanity 1 sends an email to ITMRCC, MTRCC, and LYJRCC to inform about the boat in distress and that Humanity 1 is heading towards it, about 2 NM away, for further assessment.
Louise Michel informs Humanity 1 via VHF that they arrived on scene. Their first assessment states an overcrowded rubber boat in weak conditions, with approximately 85 people sitting on sponsons without lifesaving equipment.
07:17 CET Humanity 1 requests the on-scene coordination from Louise Michel via VHF, which is acknowledged and confirmed by both sides.
07:20 CET Humanity 1 sends an email to ITMRCC, MTRCC, and LYJRCC to inform that they have arrived on scene and that Humanity 1 is the on-scene coordinator.
07:23 CET Humanity 1 launches both RHIBs to assess the situation.
Humanity 1 spots a fast-approaching speedboat.
07:25 CET Based on the assessment of Humanity 1 RHIB team, the imminent danger and necessity for immediate assistance is confirmed. The boat in distress is a white rubber boat, there are women and children on board. All the shipwrecked persons are now wearing life jackets distributed by Louise Michel.
07:28 CET Humanity 1 sends an email to ITMRCC, MTRCC, and LYJRCC to inform that both RHIBs were launched and able to assess the situation. Because of the grave and imminent danger, Humanity 1 informs about the initiation of the rescue.
Humanity 1 spots a second military vessel flying a Libyan flag arriving on-scene.
07:36 CET Humanity 1 spots another potential boat in distress on its starboard side approximately 1 to 2 NM away.
07:57 CET RHIB of Humanity 1 starts embarking people from the white rubber boat in distress on board Humanity 1.
08:01 CET One of the Libyan vessels contacts Humanity 1 via VHF in English and informs about “rescuing” the people from the second boat in distress. Humanity 1 is instructed to leave the area and to not interfere. The captain of Humanity 1 replies that Humanity 1 is the on-scene coordinator and instructs to not proceed with the interception. No answer or acknowledgment from the Libyan coast guard vessel.
08:17 CET Louise Michel informs Humanity 1 via VHF that they are proceeding towards the second boat in distress.
08:54 CET One RHIB of Humanity 1 casts off towards the second boat in distress.
09:02 CET All 109 survivors from the white rubber boat in distress are safely recovered on board Humanity 1.
The other RHIB of Humanity 1 casts off towards the second boat in distress.
09:04 CET Louise Michel informs Humanity 1 via VHF that the Libyan coast guard left with an unknown number of persons on board, leaving behind six persons in the water. Louise Michel was able to recover all the persons from the water to their life raft. They are standing by for more commands from Humanity 1 as on-scene coordinator.
09:24 CET RHIB of Humanity 1 informs Humanity 1 having recovered the six persons from the life raft and that they have all been in the water and suffer from severe hypothermia.
09:30 CET Humanity 1 makes four attempts to call the Libyan coast guard vessel and requests, as on-scene coordinator, a transfer from the persons on board their vessel to the Humanity 1 to not separate families and relatives and to be able to disembark the survivors in a place of safety. No answer.
09:32 CET All six survivors are safely recovered on board Humanity 1.
09:34 CET Humanity 1 makes a fifth and sixth unanswered attempt at contacting the Libyan vessel via VHF.
09:50 CET Humanity 1 makes more attempts to contact the Libyan vessel via VHF, no answer.
10:20 CET Humanity 1 informs ITMRCC, MTRCC, and LYJRCC via email about the completion of the rescue and the witnessed interception by the Libyan coast guard.
10:30 CET Both RHIBs from Humanity 1 are recovered on board.
00:03 CET Humanity 1, in position 33°48 N 012°55 E, sends an email to LYJRCC, ITMRCC and MTRCC with the two Maritime Incident Reports attached. Humanity 1 requests a place of safety – as defined in the Annex to the SAR Convention, paragraphs 1.3.2 and 3.1.9 and in the IMO Resolution MSC.167(78)) – to promptly disembark all 261 survivors on board.
21:26 CET Humanity 1, in position 35°16 N 014°54 E reiterates the request for a place of safety for 261 survivors on board.
21:54 CET Humanity 1, in position 37°25 N 015°48 E reiterates the request for a place of safety for 261 survivors on board.
11:58 CET Humanity 1, in position 37°29 N 015°45 E, reiterates the place of safety request for the disembarkation of 261 survivors on board Humanity 1
15:54 CET Humanity 1 receives an e-mail from ITMRCC informing that Bari has been assigned for the disembarkation of the 261 survivors on board. The distance to Bari is about 320 NM of the current position of Humanity 1.
16:41 CET Due to heavy weather along the route and concerns regarding safe navigation and safety of the people on board, Humanity 1 responds to ITMRCC requesting to reconsider the assigned port and assign a port in the vicinity instead.
20:45 CET In the absence of response from ITMRCC, Humanity 1 sends a follow up email reiterating the concerns regarding safe navigation and safety of the people on board and the request for the assignment of a closer port.
23:29 CET The captain of Humanity 1 sends an email to ITMRCC informing that in the absence of reaction and new instruction from their side, he will proceed to Bari while keeping a close eye on weather conditions and safety risks.
09:00 CET Humanity 1 sends an email to ITMRCC informing about the estimated time of arrival in Bari on the 11th of December, if weather permits.
10:00 CET Humanity 1 arrives in the port of Bari.
10:45 CET Start of the disembarkation of the 261 survivors.
14:55 CET All 261 survivors have disembarked Humanity 1, rescue operations are completed.
21:24 CET Humanity 1 leaves the port of Bari and sails towards the port of Burriana/Spain as the final stop of this rotation.
Last updated: 13.12.2022, 11:05