4 February 2024






2 mins

With 26 hospital beds the 2000 built vessel, THEBACKLASH left Malta last Monday 29th January, 2024  passing breakwaters at 0931 hrs after 4 months refit including drydocking.

She was originally built as the HAVILA STAR in Norway by Kleven Verft – Ulsteinvik,  with yard number 288 for Atlantic Offshore Rescue – Aberdeen, UK. During 2007  she was sold and renamed OCEAN SPEY.

During May, 2022 her role was changed into a migrant rescue ship and was renamed OPEN ARMS UNO for the NGO Proactiva Open Arms. She was donated by the president of the NGO Solidaire, the Argentine filmmaker and philanthropist Enrique Piñeyro.

She had several issues and one of her rescues goes back to 21st September, 2022 when she was assigned the port of Messina (Sicily) to disembark the 402 survivors and the body of one deceased person. The NGO vessel had rescued four boats in distress between September 15 and September 18. On September 18 early in the morning, the crew rescued 294 people, including 43 women and 60 children who had departed four days earlier. The previous day, after more than 24 hour-search, they rescued 59 people  who had taken refuge on an oil rig and also recovered a deceased person. The disembarkation ended on September 23. 

During August 2023 she was renamed as THEBACKLASH and reflagged to Panama (PAN) from Spanish (ESP) with Open Arms livery of which she was seen entering Valletta, Malta on Tuesday 26th September.

Assisted by local tug SEA SALVOR she entered floating dock CAMILEON for drydocking at Cassar Ship Repair Yard Ltd.

While she was drydocked and changing her livery , dry docking survey was being done so all parts which are normally under water can be more thoroughly examined, including not only the hull but also the propeller, rudder and sea chests.

During October, it was decided that her accommodation area (31 souls) including the bridge area will be painted as Dark Orange.

Earlier this year she was undocked and shifted at the yard port side alongside the floating dock.

The vessel is equipped with a hospital, an ICU unit, two different kitchens, one for the staff and other for the rescued immigrants and a helicopter winching area. The helicopter will never land, as there is not enough space, but will be flying over while the medical team prepare the bed to be lifted (SOLAS). Also semi-rigid boats are on board, also known as RHIB, that will allow the vessel to give shelter to 300 people, a number that, in case of emergency and without endangering the conditions of the embarkation, could be extended to a thousand.

And finally on Monday 29th January, she was seen leaving Grand Harbour, fresh from drydock including a new livery.

Her Blue Livery had strong words –

She was going to uplift bunkers here in Malta including Compass Adjustment, but everything was cancelled and she proceeded to Yalova, Turkey of which she arrived in the afternoon of Friday 2nd February.

IMAGES – Wearing Proactiva Open Arms livery –


IMAGES – Wearing current livery –


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