Commercial vessel turned away from Italian port after picking up migrants

Offshore tug oil platform supply ship Vos Thalassa (IMO 9606106) rescued 66 migrants in Libyan SAR waters during the night of July 10th, but was subsequently refused entry to an Italian port, representing an escalation of Italy’s hard line against vessels that pick up migrants from North Africa in the Mediterranean Sea.

The Italian Interior Ministry said that the rescue should have been left to the Libyan Coastguard, claiming that the commercial ship had been told that Libyan patrol boats were coming to retrieve the migrants.

The migrants were transferred to an Italian Coastguard ship, which was thought likely to disembark the migrants into Italy.

Transport Minister Danilo Toninelli, who oversees the coast guard and the country’s ports, said the migrants had been transferred to an Italian coast guard vessel on Tuesday after some of them threatened the lives of the Italian crew.

The barring by Italy of a commercial vessel that had rescued migrants (as is strongly recommended  under international maritime law) is an escalation of the Mediterranean migrant crisis. Previously Italy had only barred specialist rescue vessels from unloading rescued migrants, although the Interior Ministry had warned that all vessels would be barred form disembarking migrants in italian ports.

2012-built, Italy-flagged, 1,678 gt Vos Thalassa is owned by Offshore Support Vessels 20 BV care of manager Vroon Offshore Services SRL of Genoa, Italy. It is entered with North of England Club on behalf of Vroon Offshore Services SRL