During successful rescues on that day, the so-called Libyan Coastguard approached the vessel MV Lifeline, violently entered the ship, threatening the crew and rescued guests.

In the morning at 08:15 am, a briefing from captain took place, because the watch spotted a boat with 60 people. Such event was informed to MRCC-Rome by SAT-phone. When contacting the MRCC Rome, they ordered the Lifeline to stand by, hand out life jackets, monitor and not to engage. While doing this, the Lifeline noticed by radar a second and third target in vicinity, and asked the MRCC Rome for authorization to rescue the migrants, however they received a negative answer. However, after a few hours they receive the approval of the MRCC Rome to rescue the migrants from the second boat.

While the rescue was in progress, a vessel from the Libyan Coast Guard approached to the Lifeline. A man from the Coast Guard jumped on deck with a rope attached to the Libyan vessel and ordered to stop the ship. However, the crew of the Lifeline, did not obey the orders and asked the Coast Guard to leave the ship. During this scenario, the Lifeline was streaming north and was being followed closely by the Libyan Coast Guard. Then a second officer jumped on the Lifeline’s deck and told the crew that they were taking the rescued migrants back to Libya, however the crew explained that they cannot do that as they are bound by the principle of non-refoulement.

In reply, the Coast Guard officer claimed that they were in Libyan waters and made a shot to the air. After that the LIFELINE reduced the speed. The officer from the Coast Guard tried to attach a rope to the bridge, but the LIFELINE-crew stops him doing so.

At the end, the Coast Guard officers left the ship and threatened the crew, telling them that they will sink the ship next time they meet then in Libyan waters.

SAR case number: 1525, 1526, 1528

SAR organisation: Mission Lifeline

SAR asset: Lifeline

Incident types: Warning shots at air or water; Verbal threats; Violent boarding by non-EU authority

Date of SAR (UTC): 26/09/2017

Time of first information received (UTC): 26/09/2017 8:15 am

Source of first information for the NGO: Own detection

Starting time of first sighting / engagement with target boat in distress (UTC): 26/09/2017 8:15 am

Vessels

Number of migrant boats: 3

Type of migrant boat(s): 2 wooden boats, one rubber boat

Number of people on board per boat: wooden boat 1: 60 wooden boat 2: 40 rubber boat: 30

Other vessels in the vicinity (e.g. unidentified / cargo / aircrafts): ASSO 25 - Offshore Supply Ship

Actors involved (by asset / institution type): MRCC Rome; Italian Coast Guard

Location

Region of Mediterranean: Central Mediterranean

Position(s) of vessel(s) in distress at the time of SAR request:

Location description: High seas

Approximate distance from coast line: N.A

Position(s) of rescue(s) at the time of SAR operation(s):

Location description: High seas

Survivors

Total number of survivors: 60

Fatalities

Total number of confirmed deaths: 0

Estimated number of dead / missing persons: 0