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Deja vu as Maersk Regensburg picks up 427 migrants

Ten months after its previous rescue mission in the Mediterranean Sea, Maersk Regensburg was at the centre of action again recently. On the evening of 9 April the Maersk Regensburg left Al Khoms in Libya for the 20-hour sea passage to Sfax, Tunisia. In circumstances almost exactly similar to the journey of 6-7 June 2014, the vessel was once again involved in a migrant rescue situation off the Libyan coast.

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Sea conditions were flat calm, and the next day the vessel was requested to divert to assist with a search and rescue incident. Based on previous experience and lessons learned, the captain briefed the crew to make sure they could handle the situation well.

Taking 427 migrants on board

An Italian coastguard launch performed four transfers of migrants, adding a tally of 427 persons to the Maersk Regensburg, comprising 324 men, 94 women and 9 children.

“Using tactics employed last year, we segregated women and children to the starboard aft, men to port and starboard forward areas, then made medical assessments as best we could,” says Captain Andrew Lewington.

​Some medical issues were taken care of by a doctor from the naval vessel, but fortunately no ailments required immediate evacuation, he adds. Catering staff were busy preparing soup and this was dispensed along with water to the migrants throughout the evening.

The following day the crew managed to supply all of the migrants with three meals, including 700 eggs and 500 sausages for breakfast, and chicken, rice and pizza for lunch and dinner. On the morning of 12 April a flotilla of small launched arrived alongside to start disembarking the migrants, and at 12 noon the vessel could resume its passage.

Reflecting on the experience, Captain Lewington says: “Once again, a very long and demanding three days, however my previous experiences greatly assisted us. Throughout this time, the 19 crew of the Maersk Regensburg acted with great professionalism, showing compassion when required.

“They served the vessel and Maersk Line commendably and I as Captain am again proud of their achievements and of the willingness shown throughout.”