The Italian built short sea ferry boat EUROPA II had to enter Grand Harbour, Malta on Saturday 6th June, 2020 after the 160 illegal immigrants threatened the crew aboard including putting the boat on fire by gathering sleeping bags with gas.
She left Bunkering Area 4 of which she shifted from Hurd Bank around 1020 hrs for sheltering due to strong NW wind shortly before 1700 hrs though master of the vessel called Malta VTS on VHF Ch 16 and then switched off to Ch 69.
At 1735 hrs she arrived 2 miles off breakwater and started drifting awaiting berthing instructions.
At 1732 hrs EUROPA II was calling the Armed Forces of Malta (AFM) offshore patrol vessel (OPV) P 62 and at 1736 hrs exchanges of vhf radio conversations were made.
At 1741 hrs the 2004 built short sea boat LADY GIO requested permission to shift from her berth at Boiler Wharf to Hamilton Wharf at Palumbo Malta Shipyards and at 1803 hrs she was secured.
So by shifting vessels at Boiler Wharf , it was evident that the EUROPA II was bound to berth at Boiler Wharf.
From the 160 illegal immigrants, the first 57 all males onboard are the ones that were stranded in a dinghy in Malta’s SAR Area and were rescued by the Libyan fishing vessel DAR AL SALAM 1 between Tuesday 28th and Wednesday 29 th April. Following a rescue operation coordinated by the Maltese government the immigrants were transferred to EUROPA II on Thursday 30th April evening.
Read More – https://maltashipnews.com/2020/05/01/illegal-immigration-57-rescued-men-transferred-to-short-sea-ferry-boat-europa-ii-at-opl-malta-30-04-2020/
At 1840 hrs EUROPA II called Valletta VTS to check regarding berthing instructions and since this is a national security matter Malta VTS was in charge of the procedures. Again master claimed that both his crew and security personnel weren’t safe at all. An AFM Alouette III helicopter was seen in the area.
At 1900 hrs master claimed that both crew and security personnel are not safe including healthwise and MALTA VTS is not replying to the calls and she’s proceeding to Valletta fairway buoy and await instructions.
Both EUROPA II crew (10) members and 20 security officers are on the Upper Deck including the wheel house and even notified the Armed Forces that they were unable to control the situation. In fact 2 Interceptor ribs were spotted at Marsamxett Harbour with members of the Special Operations Unit (SOU) that was established in 2015.
At 2100 hrs the Austal Class Inshore Patrol Craft (IPC) P 24 requested permission to enter Grand Harbour.
At 2106 hrs permission was granted that EUROPA II can proceed towards Grand Harbour escorted by P 24 of which she entered at 2126 hrs.
By 2205 hrs she was all fast secured at Boiler Wharf.
Watermarked Photos are by Capt. Lawrence Dalli. Do not use these images without my permission. © All rights reserved. Malta Ship Photos & Action Photos – www.maltashipphotos.com
Published – Saturday 6th June, 2020