Monday, January 14, 2008

Excitement in the Med

The ship had some excitement Friday night as they steamed along from Italy to their next port visit in Malaga, Spain. Rob had just gotten off watch that night around 10:00 when the Man Overboard alert sounded. As Rob said, that will get your attention quickly. Apparently one of the lookouts had heard yelling and saw a light in the water. Everyone started running around to make sure all their people are accounted for and they turned the ship around to head back toward the light. The weather was horrible that night, very windy with 7-9 foot seas, so it was hard to see anything. It took a few minutes for them to locate the light again, but when they did they started moving toward it and got their small boat ready to launch. As they got closer, they could see with their night vision devices that it is a small rubber raft with 8 people in it.

They could tell right away of course that they were in trouble and that this raft was not seaworthy. They sent their small boat over and loaded the eight people into it, then sank the raft. They brought the refugees back to the ship, gave them some dry clothes and food, then Rob was responsible for interviewing them with the help of one of the French speakers on board. The men were from Algeria, trying to get to Spain to find work. Unfortunately, Spain wouldn't accept them, so they had to meet up with an Algerian Coast Guard ship and return the refugees to them. It definitely provided some excitement, but it also delayed their arrival in Malaga by 10 hours!

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