Over 720 immigrants have been saved by Greek aframax tankers from over-crowded boats in rescue operations off Libya in recent weeks.
On 27 August master of the Tsakos Columbia Shipmanagement operated Proteas 116,000 dwt tanker, while en route from Sidi Kerir, Egypt to Augusta, Italy, in laden condition, was informed by the Rome Rescue Center a boat carrying illegal immigrants was in distress about 60 miles off the Libyan port of Marsa Susa north east of Benghazi.
Proteas’ master Panagiotis Mellos, deviated and arrived at the scene mid-afternoon and the tanker’s 23 crew lifted to safety 221 men, women and children, all in apparent good health.
The rescued persons were provided with food and other necessities with medical assistance being made available.
The 2006-built Greek flag vessel resumed her original route to Augusta arriving there early 29 August where the immigrants were disembarked.
The TMS Tankers/George Economou-controlled, 108,000 dwt aframax Bonita, was involved in two rescue operations off Libya, saving a total of 537 people, including 60 children.
At the beginning of August, the 2006-built vessel received a call from the Italian coastguard and informed of a vessel in distress. The Greek-flagged Bonita proceeded to the location and picked up a total of 357 refugees, including 270 from Bangladesh. The remainder were from Syria, Nigeria, India, Sudan, Palestine, Guinea, Ghana and Morocco. There were six women and one 11-year-old child in the group, who were taken to the Sicilian port of Pozzallo for disembarkation.
Ten days later, the Rome Rescue Center notified the Bonita of another boat in distress some 240 km off Libya.
This time, 180 were rescued, including 59 small children. Ninety-four were Palestinian, 85 Syrians and one an Iraqi. The tanker sailed for Sicily and disembarked the immigrants at Porto Empedocle before resuming its voyage to Rotterdam for discharge.
The Porto Empedocle harbour master, Commander Massimo di Marco wrote to the master of the Bonita: “This successful event makes me proud of the activity performed with the precious help of the merchant vessel under your command, within the framework of a long tradition of solidarity, which is the most important pillar of [the] world maritime community.”
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