Defensenews reports the Italian Coast Guard seems to be contending with their own version of a “boat lift” as refugees from the chaotic and poverty ridden areas of Africa and the Middle East attempt to make it to more prosperous areas.
Typical Migrant Interdiction Operation (MIO)–unsavory operators, overloaded unseaworthy vessels equal mass drownings.
More info about how the EU is handling, or not handling this situation:
German Blog reports without attribution:
“ITALY The Italian navy rescued 110 mostly African (Ghana, Mali, Togo, Gambia) migrants from an overloaded inflatable dinghy in trouble off Lampedusa … one person found dead.”
110 people on an inflatable dingy? Now that is desperation.
No end in sight. Italian Navy rescues over 1000 in a 24 hour period. http://gcaptain.com/marina-militare-italian-navy-rescues-migrants/
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Italian Defense Minister characterizes ongoing immigration as security threat to Europe being facilitated by Jihadist and criminals: http://www.defensenews.com/article/20140120/DEFREG01/301200031/Italy-Warns-Continued-Security-Threat
This has turned into a very large operation that is stressing the Italian Navy. http://www.defensenews.com/article/20140414/DEFREG01/304140033/Italy-Copes-Biblical-Exodus-Migrants-Mediterranean
Italy rescuing more than 1000 people a day. http://gcaptain.com/italy-rescues-5200-boat-migrants-since-thursday/
Keeping score, looks like no let up. This from the German Navy blog, Marine Forum: http://marineforum.info/Daily_News/daily_news.html
“03 August, The Italian navy has rescued over 2,700 migrants from boats attempting to cross the Mediterranean over the weekend between Friday and Sunday … total this year 93,000.”
Some great photos, and staggering statistics about what has been happening: http://time.com/2894694/massimo-sestini-boat-italy-migrants-mare-nostrum-risk-europe/
Does Italy push NATO to be more active in this?
I think the way they see it, it is not a NATO question, it is a European Union Question.
More bad news, reports of up to 250 migrants lost off Libya. Apparently while Libya has a coast guard it lacks substance. http://gcaptain.com/hundreds-feared-dead-migrant-boat-sinks-libya/
News just keeps getting worse, a report that up to 500 immigrants may have been intentionally drowned by smugglers. http://gcaptain.com/iom-investigates-deliberate-drowning-of-500-migrants-in-mediterranean/
The Italian Navy and Coast Guard have rescued 139.000 so far, and there is no sign of the flow slacking: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/18/opinion/beppe-severgnini-the-italian-military-to-the-rescue.html?_r=0
This has a bit more detail about what is happening as the Italians scale back their operation and the EU picks up some (but not all) of the slack: http://www.sfgate.com/news/world/article/Italy-phases-out-sea-rescues-to-save-migrants-5861172.php
Apparently the Greeks are getting a share of this problem. http://gcaptain.com/hellenic-coast-guard-responding-to-disabled-freighter-carrying-hundreds-of-migrants/
What Italy has been facing seems to an order of magnitude greater than US AMIO: http://gcaptain.com/almost-1000-migrants-arrive-italy-packed-cargo-ship/
Apparently the Icelandic CG is helping. http://gcaptain.com/icelands-coast-guard-takes-control-another-migrant-ship-italy/
It is apparently not clear what type of ship this is, but a livestock carrier makes more sense as a Migrant transport than a tanker. The Icelandic Coast Guard ship involved, the Tyr (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ICGV_T%C3%BDr) is small but robust, ice strengthened, only a little larger than a 210, she was commissioned in 1975, and survived being rammed twice by British frigates during the “Cod Wars” between Iceland and Britain. She has a only a very small crew and can operate a Dauphin helicopter.
More here: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-30653742
Reportedly 29 immigrants die of exposure on patrol boats that were unable to shelter them: http://gcaptain.com/least-29-migrants-die-exposure-coast-guard-custody/
It’s an example of modern Europe at it’s worst. Unable to take action due to Byzantine politics and apathy.
Two reports from the German Navy blog “marineforum.info”:
•Two commercial ships and an Italian coastguard vessel rescued about 700 migrants from overcrowded boats near the Libyan coast.
(rmks: an area not covered by EU Frontex operation “Triton”)
•UNHCR says at least 218,000 migrants crossed the Mediterranean by boat last year and 3,500 lives were lost
•+++ Some 100 nm south of Lampedusa (50 nm off Libya) the Italian coast guard spots 12 migrant boats … a total of nearly 2,200 people rescued … short stand-off with human traffickers who managed to escape
•+++ UNHCR criticizing EU which in its operation “Triton” merely patrols sea borders instead of rescuing people in distress.
Italy is now calling for NATO involvement as apparently the EU isn’t interest in doing anything. Would not be surprised to see the USCG become involved in this.
The only way I could see that happening is if we sent one or more of the 110s into the Med, but this has been going on for a very long time, with no end in sight. No reason USN in the Med could not participate. They might ask for CG LEDET to help if they do.
I think Italy is requesting NATO help on the Med policing largely to get a small amount of US participation, with the goal being to shame the EU into greater participation. Isn’t the USS Mount Whitney based in Tripoli? I could see that being deployed, with possibly some USCG LEDET on board.
Obviously the situation is fluid, the beheading of Christians in Libya has escalated the situation.
There are other assets in the Med. Mount Whitney is a flag ship, with a part civilian crew. Don’t think they would use her, but while it is not like the days of the 6th Fleet, there are USN vessels operating in the Med, or transiting through it on the way to the Indian Ocean.
In connection to the issue, Ireland and Malta have just agreed that Ireland will gift the decommissioned LE Aoife to the Maltese. and will provide training for the crew in Cobh. Aoife will be the largest ship in the Maltese squadron, like her sisters she’s had work done to repair hull fatigue issues, and the Med’s going to be more forgiving than the West Coast (though they are going to have to find secondary weapons as they’ve already been transferred). She’s free, cheap enough to run (at least for the next 5 years or so), with a small crew, and if she works out Aisling is going to be free next year (and LE. Emer seems to have been “taken” by the Nigerian Navy) hopefully this can help a small bit.
She is about the size of a 210 and newer, but without a flight deck. A smaller crew and a bit slower. It should help.
According to those that built her, her speed is higher, it’s just her engines are restricted to reduce wear/fuel costs.
Looks like Malta is refusing the gift, calling the ship junk. She is probably newer than the average Coast Guard cutter. http://www.irishexaminer.com/ireland/malta-calls-navy-ship-gift-junk-313894.html
There’s a bit of debate on the Irish forums about this, the examiner article seems based on just Maltese comments on a blog rather than direct attributable statements. Like the bit about there not being a stern launch for a RIB, no there isn’t, there are two side mounted launch positions and a third stern one that’s lifted off by the aft crane (which means she carries more RIB’s than any other Maltese ship), think if the comment came from the Maltese navy they might have noticed that point.
If they don’t want her we can always flog her for €200-€300K, her sister Emer just got commissioned into the Nigerian Navy as a training ship.
General-Secretary of IMO (International Maritime Organization) calls for more effort to prevent illegal migration and prosecute human trafficers: http://gcaptain.com/imo-calls-concerted-effort-address-unsafe-maritime-migration-mediterranean/
The EU extends Operation Triton, but that is limited to patrols near the European coast. http://www.marinelink.com/news/extended-mission-rescue386146.aspx
Now merchant vessel operators are pointing out they cannot be expected to conduct large scale rescues of migrants. http://gcaptain.com/shipowners-merchant-ships-not-capable-of-large-scale-migrant-rescues/
Sooner or later I suspect we will see a ship hijacked after picking up what appear to be migrants.
Seems that it was just some talking heads on both sides stirring crap regarding the transfer of Aoife to the Maltese:[QUOTE]
A Maltese naval crew will arrive in Haulbowline in the next few weeks to be trained to operate the LÉ Aoife, which was gifted to Malta amid some controversy.
Defence Minister Simon Coveney said the Maltese government still wanted the 36-year-old vessel, despite some comments by retired navy personnel on that Mediterranean island she was too old and not fit for the purpose she was intended for — to rescue migrants fleeing north Africa.
Mr Coveney said that he expected the Maltese crew to be trained up over a three to four-week period and ready to return with the ship by mid-May.
He said that some Irish naval personnel were likely to sail with the ship to Malta and he was even considering going over for its arrival. “We also have spares [parts] for the ship and we will give them to them,” he said.
He said his Maltese counterpart, Carmelo Abela, had immediately contacted him after adverse comments were made on that country’s media about the LÉ Aoife.
“He was very embarrassed about that and said he was delighted to take her. It’s a positive story from their perspective. They’re planning to buy a new ship but won’t receive it for around five years, so they need the LÉ Aoife to fill in. It’s not at the end of its life and is very well maintained.”
He said he could understand why some Irish groups might have liked the opportunity to acquire the vessel, but felt it could play a role in humanitarian work[/QUOTE]
That sounds more like it.
Non-governmental organization gets into the migrant SAR business. http://www.marinelink.com/news/mediterranean-emergency386953.aspx
Turkish CG opens fire on a refugee vessel to stop it. No injuries. http://gcaptain.com/turkey-fires-cargo-ship-carrying-hundreds-syrian-refugees/
there is this as well: http://www.defenceiq.com/naval-and-maritime-defence/articles/sar-crisis-in-the-mediterranean-commercial-vessels/?utm_source=1-6361871014&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=15+03+12+DFIQ+NL&utm_term=DFIQ_NL&utm_content=DFIQ_NL&mac=DFIQ1-39C7RX0&disc=
There is a developing counter-terrorism aspect to this mission. http://www.defensenews.com/story/defense/international/europe/2015/03/19/italy-beefs-air-naval-presence-central-med/25025257/
Another update. This one highlights the contribution of an Icelandic Coast Guard vessel. http://gcaptain.com/eu-sea-mission-braces-record-year-mediterranean-migrants/
It is going to be a very big year for migrants and an even bigger year for deaths at sea.
This is becoming increasingly militarized. http://www.defensenews.com/story/defense/international/europe/2015/03/28/italy-libya-islamic-state-navy-shipping-oil-rigs-mare-sicuro-fremm/70515116/
A proposal for how to begin addressing the problem: http://cimsec.org/migration-crisis-mediterranean-contact-group-needed/15660
More Non-Governmental Organizations get into the act: http://www.marinelink.com/news/mission-migrant-rescue389122.aspx
Another 1500 picked up on Friday. http://gcaptain.com/italy-merchant-ships-rescue-1000-migrants-mediterranean/
Some enforcement act against accused murderers. http://www.marinelink.com/news/intensifies-drownings389478.aspx
700 feared dead when 20 meter (66 ft) boat capsizes. http://gcaptain.com/migrant-boat-sinks-libya-700-dead/
EU is talking about what to do: https://euobserver.com/justice/128377
A more complete report here: http://gcaptain.com/eu-leaders-meet-amid-escalated-migrant-crisis-in-mediterranean/
Apparently most of the immigrants were locked below deck. There was a collision with a merchant ship coming to the rescue. “The captain has been arrested on suspicion of multiple homicide and people-smuggling, and he and his 25-year-old Syrian first mate, Mahmud Bikhit, are also suspected of causing a shipwreck.” http://gcaptain.com/prosecutors-blame-captain-for-causing-deadly-shipwreck-in-mediterranean/
After the last weeks losses, Ireland will deploy one of our ships for rescue operations it’s been announced, and the Maltese seem happy with LE Aoife (seems they like the level of tech on board) she’s going into the graving dock to have her hull inspected, all going well they should have her by mid summer.
EU agrees to triple funding for immigrant interdiction efforts. http://gcaptain.com/eu-to-triple-search-and-rescue-funding-in-mediterranean/
A suggestion that inert precision guided munitions be used to destroy smugglers boats in Libya before they are loaded with immigrants. This looks like an indication of desperation. It is really stupid. High cost of ammunition. Damage relatively simple to repair well enough to put them at sea again. http://www.defensenews.com/story/defense/policy-budget/warfare/2015/05/02/europe-weighs-bombing-migrant-boats/26639047/
Europe might as well set up offices in Libya and sell access at prices that undercut the gangs. At least that way the migrants would be safe and Europe would get the money now going to gangs.
Italian Navy Chief rejects Australian model for dealing with immigrants. http://www.defensenews.com/story/defense/international/europe/2015/05/05/italian-navy-chief-skeptical-australian-solution-med-migrant-crisis/26932421/
Report that the wreck of the 25 meter boat that carried at least 750 migrants to their death has been located. There is a photo of the vessel before the sinking. It is astonishing they could pack that many people aboard. http://gcaptain.com/italy-may-have-found-the-boat-that-sank-last-month-killing-hundreds-of-migrants/
Ireland is sending a ship, very similar to a 270. http://navaltoday.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Ireland-to-Assist-in-Med-Migrant-Crisis.jpg
Yeah Eithne has been getting ready for the last couple of weeks, it’ll be a good operation for the navy, sadly it means that the planned tour on the anti piracy operation has been shelved.
From the reports today, the Minister for Defence sees Ireland’s commitment lasting till at least September, with Eithne being deployed for 2 months and then replaced by one of the other ships.
Story about the Irish vessel being donated to Malta. http://www.bairdmaritime.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=16804:irish-offshore-patrol-vessel-to-malta&catid=73&Itemid=65
Looks like some thing similar may be happening in SE Asia. From the German Navy Blog “Marine Forum, “SOUTHEAST ASIA (Migration) Thailand and Malaysia will hold talks on how to stem the surge of migrants (mostly Rohyngia Muslims from Myanmar) landing on their shores … about 7,000 people still adrift in the Bay of Bengal, abandoned by smugglers following a crackdown by Thailand … UNHCR foresees „humanitarian emergency happening “.”
LE Eithne sails this weekend for a confirmed 8 week deployment, she’s rated to support up to 400 refugees. She’ll be based out of Italy and is operating with the Italians rather than the EU mission. Planned to operate within 18 hours of sailing from Italian ports.
USNI blog in the person of “Cdr. Salamander” steps back to look at the current migrations in a historical context: http://blog.usni.org/2015/05/20/another-age-of-migration
A consideration of Europe’s options: http://www.realcleardefense.com/articles/2015/05/22/the_pitfalls_of_a_maritime_police_force_107967.html
LE Eithne made her first catch today
Interesting protective coveralls they are wearing.
God only knows where we sourced them from to be honest
Busy 24 hours for Eithne, after the 200, shes picked up another 400 overnight in w different operations…