Winter is fast approaching. The warm summer months are over and the refugee situation in the Med is looking more and more perilous and urgent.
Over 300,000 people have attempted to cross the Mediterranean, from Africa and the Middle East to the safety of Europe, in 2016 alone. Sadly many have died in pursuit of a better life for themselves and their children.
Seeing a need to act in this emergency, the charity Save the Children launched an appeal in August to raise urgent funds to provide relief to the thousands of people risking the crossing on a daily basis. Project ‘Rescue at Sea’ was born. Among many challenges presented to Save the Children in beginning this campaign, was the need to find a suitable Vessel.
With no chartering experience, Save the Children approached DSB Offshore Ltd to assist with sourcing a Vessel. The vessel had to be able to carry 300 refugees and 12 Save the Children staff. She would need to operate around the clock, have good speed and endurance capabilities and preferably already have experience in the Med. Technically it was essential to have a vessel with a low freeboard for ease of boarding and have experienced non-armed security on board. Equipment required on board needed to include 2 FRC’s (Fast Rescue Craft) capable of rapid deployment; a morgue and hospital; operations office; a child protection zone; toilets and showers; storage for supplies and countless other considerations.
The difficulty was finding this entire wish-list in just one vessel and with almost immediate availability. This is where the added value of a shipbroker comes in.
DSB worked closely with Save the Children to find possible vessels for the Rescue at Sea operation. Having market and vessel knowledge, and good relationships with a wide network of vessel owners, meant that DSB were able to fix the AHTS (Anchor Handling Tug Supply vessel) VOS Hestia from Vroon Offshore Services. VOS Hestia has traditionally worked in oilfield services and provides great flexibility for Save the Children’s needs. Owners were able to equip the vessel and make it available within the tight turnaround.
VOS Hestia and her crew, together with the specialist staff of Save the Children, working in conjunction with the Italian coastguard and other vessels in the Med, have been instrumental in the saving of over 3000 refugees, many of these being children.
It has been a pleasure for DSB Offshore Ltd to work closely with Save the Children and Vroon Offshore Services, in such playing a small part in this operation.
To donate to Save the Children’s rescue project visit: www.savethechildren.org/rescue-at-sea