On June 12th 2018 a rubber boat with 117 migrants was navigating towards Europe. They were navigating for around 8 hours in international waters in bad weather conditions. In this context, according to the migrants’ testimonies, they saw a vessel with American flag (US Trenton). However, despite the fact that they tried to call the crew’s attention and even tried to reach the vessel, the US Trenton left.

After the migrants lost sight of the US Trenton, a big wave hit their rubber boat and it sank. According to the testimony of the survivors, they spent hours swimming at sea. During this time, many migrants drowned, either because they were unable to swim or because of they got tired and could not stay afloat.

After a long battle at the sea, the migrants saw and helicopter and later on, after 30 minutes, they saw the US Trenton again. However, unlike the previous encounter, the vessel was heading towards them.

Immediately, the US Trenton sent two rigid-hull inflatable boats (RHIBs) and one fast rescue boat in order to rescue the migrants, which were immediately taken abroad and provided with food, water clothing and medical care.

According to migrants’ testimonies, when they asked the US Trenton crew why they didn’t rescue them before, they replied that it was not their job.

In response to the survivors’ testimonies, the crew of the US Trenton informed that they saw a capsized vessel and migrants floating in the ocean at approximately 10:10 am and that was the first observation of the vessel made by personnel of US Trenton.

Finally it is important to note that on June 10th, 2018 the journalist Fabio Butera recorded a radio conversation between the US Trenton and a Greek Merchant Vessel (Leone Hermes), which suggests that the American vessel might have ignored another rescue request two days before the incident related above.

SAR case number: N.A

Incident type: Action against survivors (Other)

Date of SAR (UTC): 12/06/2018

Source of first information for the NGO: US Trenton


Number of migrant boats: 1

Type of migrant boat(s): rubber boat

Number of people on board per boat: 117

Other vessels in the vicinity (e.g. unidentified / cargo / aircrafts): US Trenton

Actors involved (by asset / institution type): US Trenton


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):

Latitude: 012° 51´ N

Longitude: 33° 10´ E

Location description: High seas

Approximate distance from coast line: N.A

Country of disembarkation: Italy


Total number of survivors: 141


Total number of confirmed deaths: 76

Estimated number of dead / missing persons: 76