Five EU countries have agreed to take in the 141 migrants on board rescue ship Aquarius (IMO 7600574) after Italy once again refused the vessel entry to any of its ports.
Malta allowed the vessel to dock on the island on the afternoon of August 14th after France and the EC brokered a deal to send the migrants to other EU states. She was permitted to enter Valletta after France, Germany, Luxembourg, Portugal and Spain agreed to take the migrants – 67 of them claiming to be under 18 years old.
The Maltese government said it made a “concession” to allow the vessel to enter its port “despite having no legal obligation to do so” and will serve as a “logistical base” for the transporting on of the migrants.
Italy had previously demanded that the UK take in all 141 migrants because the ship was registered in the British overseas territory of Gibraltar. Gibraltar’s government said it had notified Aquarius on August 6th that its Gibraltar registration would be stripped because it was meant to be a survey vessel, rather than a search and rescue vessel. The registration was due to be revoked officially on August 20th when her flag will revert to Germany because the underlying owner is German.
EU migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos commended the five countries “for their solidarity and for sharing the responsibility” of sheltering the people, mostly from Eritrea and Somalia.
1977-built, Gibraltar-flagged, 1,812 gt Aquarius is owned by Aquarius GmbH care of manager Jasmund Shipping GmbH of Bremen, Germany. It is entered with Gard P&I Bermuda on behalf of Aquarius GmbH.