Ocean Viking disembarks migrants in Malta

Offshore supply ship Ocean Viking (IMO 8506854) docked in Malta during the night of Aug 23rd and disembarked the 356 migrants who had taken on board in the Mediterranean. They will be taken from there to six other EU member states.

Migration officials took the men, women and children for a screening. The migrants will remain in Malta until they can move to France, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, Portugal and Romania, as agreed in a deal announced by Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat. France said it would take in 150 of the migrants, after initially committing to sheltering only 40. Portugal said late on Thursday it was ready to take up to 35 migrants. None of the migrants will stay in Malta.

“Welcome that a solution for the persons aboard Ocean Viking has been found and that all will be relocated,” said EU Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos.

The Norwegian-flagged ship, Ocean Viking, which is run by French charities MSF and SOS Méditerranée, had been stranded at sea for 13 days and had already been denied entry by Malta. Two requests to Italian authorities were ignored.

The migrants are mostly Africans from Sudan, rescued from four separate vessels Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney on Friday criticised the lack of coordinated EU response: “Ad hoc arrangements on a case by case basis is not sustainable or humane. EU is better than this!”, he said on Twitter.

Around 100 migrants were stranded off Italy for almost three weeks on the Open Arms until a prosecutor intervened and ordered them brought ashore, against the wishes of Interior Minister Matteo Salvini. Five of Italy’s EU partners will take them in.

Open Arms was disembarked on Tuesday night. The ship docked at Lampedusa’s harbour just after 23:30 local time.

Salvini has called the private rescue ships “taxis” for people-smugglers.

1986-built, Norway-flagged, 2.090 gt Ocean Viking is owned by Ocean Viking AS care of manager Hoyland Offshore AS of Steinsland, Norway. It is entered with Skuld (business unit Skuld Offshore) on behalf of Hoyland Offshore AS.