Due to the high-density ship traffic in the area, Aquarius asks a vessel on VHF to alter course because of the risk of collusion with the rubber boat. It also informs another vessel to pass astern of Aquarius.
Aquarius stops in the international waters, at the position 35°59.1’N, 013°31.6’E, at 32 Nautical miles from the Italian coast (Linosa Island), and 32 Nautical miles from the Maltese coast, on the line separating the Maltese SRR and the overlapping Italian and Maltese SRR.
Please be advised that our RHIB is currently doing the assessment and giving out lifejackets. The situation is 11 male total 2 of which are children We will find out their intentions and inform this RCC as soon as possible.
A RHIB of the Aquarius is launched to investigate the first position provided by the Libyan JRCC. The team onboard the RHIB talks to fishermen on a fishing vessel who say that they have seen the white boat two hours ago, heading North.
Aquarius replies to the email by saying that it is proceeding to the given position at maximum speed. Aquarius also confirms that it will update the Libyan JRCC about the operation, following the obligations of all shipmasters under maritime law. [Click here for the legal reference]
Email from Aquarius to Libyan JRCC
Good copy on your last email. Aquarius is proceeding to this position at maximum speed to conduct rescue and bring all people on board the Aquarius. I will update this RCC at operation starts.
To arrange disembarkation as soon as reasonably practicable.
According to Maritime conventions and resolutions,
Upon the declaration of a distress phase, a RCC shall initiate “search and rescue operations when the position of the search object is unknown” (SAR Convention, art. 4.5.4).
As soon as the RCC responsible for a SRR in which assistance is needed is informed about a distress situation, it “should immediately accept responsibility for coordinating the rescue efforts” (MSC.167(78), art 6.7).
RCCs “should be prepared to act quickly on their own, or have processes in place, as necessary, to involve other authorities, so that timely decisions can be reached with regard to handling of survivors” (MSC.167(78), art 6.4).
A RCC “should make every effort to minimize the time survivors remain on board the assisting ship” (MSC.167(78), art 6.8).
A RCC “shall have available up-to-date information especially concerning search and rescue facilities and available communications relevant to search and rescue operations in its area” (SAR Convention, art 4.2.1).
After having called MRCC Tunis and MRCC Alger, Aquarius receives a phone call back from MRCC Alger, seeking to confirm that Aquarius heard Algerian Coast Guard broadcasting a position on VHFchannel 16. Aquarius confirms the position heard from the Algerian Coast Guard. MRCC Alger informs of an ongoing search operation.
Aquarius informs of her position and availability to assist, being equiped with three rescue boats on board, a search and rescue team and medical staff. MRCC Alger confirms it will call Aquarius if any assistance is needed.
Aquarius hears a VHF call by the Algerian Coast Guard on channel 16 alerting a vessel in the area to a possible boat with migrants onboard in position 38°11.6′ N, 008°09’06, in the Algerian Search and Rescue Region.
Aquarius cannot hear if any information is given about the people on the boat nor its situation.