The Spanish Navy frigate “Canarias”, deployed on the European Union mission EUNAVFOR SOPHIA in the fight against illegal people trafficking in the Central Mediterranean, has rescued 107 men, 10 women and two children trying to reach Europe on-board an inflatable vessel with a total length of only 15 meters.
The frigate “Canarias” received an emergency alert warning it of the presence of two inflatable vessels that had gone adrift with a large number of people on-board. An hour later, the P3 ORION maritime patrol aircraft of the Spanish Air Force that was flying over the area, confirmed the call for help after spotting the two vessels.
Faced with this situation, the Commander of Operation Sophia ordered the two closest vessels – the “Canarias” and the “Triglav” (a Slovenian Navy vessel deployed under Operation EUNAVFOR MED SOPHIA) – to head to the scene of the action to assess the situation and prepare to help them.
The Spanish vessel travelled at full speed to the area, and the 200 servicemen that make up the detachment on-board the frigate prepared to carry out the rescue operation which would involve up to three vessels from three different nations. Subsequently the Italian Coast Guard vessel “Fiorillo” joined the rescue operation.
Upon reaching the scene, the frigate “Canarias” took over the command of the operation and together with the “Triglav” commenced the rescue, which was complicated by the heavy swell and strong winds in the region. The “Canarias” lowered its two inflatable vessels and began to assist the migrants on-board the two vessels. The women and children were rescued first. Subsequently, the rest of the migrants were rescued. Up to 130 people boarded the “Canarias”, 119 assigned to the Spanish vessel and another 11 from the second inflatable vessel, which the “Canarias” took on-board until the arrival of the Italian Coast Guard vessel.
Once all the migrants were safely on-board, they were given blankets and dry clothes, food and water, and those who needed it received medical aid.
On Monday afternoon, the migrants on-board the “Canarias” and the “Fiorillo” headed to the Italian island of Lampedusa to disembark.
“EUNAVFOR MED OPERACIÓN SOPHIA” is a mission of a multinational nature headed up by the EU, following a Decision from the European Council of 18 May 2015, which contributes towards preventing the loss of life in the Mediterranean.
The goal of the frigate “Canarias” is to make a contribution towards halting the networks of illegal people trafficking across the Central Mediterranean, by intercepting vessels transporting people.