During 36 hours the Ocean Viking rescued 623 people in 15 separte operations leading to the biggest operation of her history. Amine, rescuer on board during this mission recalls this very intense moment where he lost completly track of time.
“My name is Amine, I’m part of the Search and Rescue team, I’m also a cultural mediator and translator on board the RHIBs. I’m the one having the first contact with the survivors to explain them we are here to help and how we’re going to proceed.
At the begining of the night, when the 14 rescues followed one another, we had a feeling it was going to be a long night. We received a distress call, so we were already ready to jump into the RHIBs.
My team and I spotted a light that looked like a boat in distress. We didn’t know this was going to be the begining of many rescues. We had to go back and forth to bring all the survivors aboard the Ocean Viking.
Once back on board, we had to go back to another rescue where two boats in distress were stabilized by the sailing vessel Nadir. Their crew had already given life jackets to those on board.
Once these initial rescues had been completed, one rescue led to another, and when the sun started to rise, boats in distress kept appearing on the horizon. I had to focus on what I was doing, I lost all track of time. Each time we disembarked survivors on the Ocean Viking, someone was telling us the time because we had no idea. I didn’t know how many rescues we had already done.
While there was a medical evacuation by helicopter we could see boats in distress in the vincinity. And it went on and on until 8pm. We spent 23 hours without stopping, without removing our protective gear in which we were sweating under the intense sun. We had metal boat rust on our arms from all the hand-holding we had to do to get people onto the RHIB.
It’s been three days now and I’m just starting to recover from the lack of sleep and feeling my body recovering from the marathon. You slowly realise everything that has happened.”
Photo credits: Camille Martin Juan/ SOS MEDITERRANEE