Knife fight onboard MV Marina – ship abandoned by Malta and Italy

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

Newsbook.com.mt is informed that a big knife fight developed between migrants on MV Marina whose captain was ordered by the Rescue Coordinating Centre (RCC) of Malta to pick up migrants from the sea.

The ship whose crew numbers just 13 persons has picked up 79 migrants, 3 of whom are females. Most of the migrants are from Bangladesh. The migrants have been very restless and frightened for hours as a result of their traumatic experience at sea.

 Dr Ann Fenech, who is representing the owners of the ship told Newsbook.com.mt that the crew members are not trained to deal with an influx of frightened persons rescued at sea, in a very confined space with limited amenities. There is the added stress of the current COVID-19 pandemic with no means of testing the migrants and without sufficient or adequate PPE.

The crew are getting both tired and restless. They are completely out of freshwater.  The Italian authorities have given them some bottled water to drink but they are resorting to using the air conditioning water for washing and toilets.

Abandoned by the authorities

Dr Ann Fenech told Newsbook.com.mt that the vessel has received absolutely no feedback from either Malta or Italy. 

“I have not even received an acknowledgement to my last email of yesterday morning.  Of course, I fully appreciate that the situation is difficult however Malta RCC cannot ignore the fact that there is a ship which itself ordered to go to save lives essentially abandoned by the authorities.”

She told Newsbook.com.mt that the Malta Freeport where the MV Marina was scheduled to unload its cargo is not closed and she is asking the authorities to let the ship enter the port as it was scheduled to do.

The master of the ship has been informed that the matter is in the hands of the Prime Minister.

The drama as it developed so far

On Sunday very early in the morning, RCC Malta ordered MV Marina to deviate its route to go and save migrants drifting out at sea. Thereafter all communications between Malta RCC and the vessel took place by satellite phone.

The MV Marina is a small containership owned by the German company Klingenberg Schiffahrts Gmbh, and chartered by CMA CGM. The ship with 13 crew members predominantly from Ukraine and the Philippines was en route to Malta Freeport was scheduled to arrive at Malta Freeport on Sunday, May 3 to discharge 265 containers and load another 235 containers for carriage to Sousse also in Tunisia on Monday, May 4.

At around 8.00 am on Sunday the vessel reported the sighting of the boat in distress. The vessel was instructed by Malta RCC to pick up the persons from the boat and to keep them on board. At 0945 the vessel informed Malta RCC that it was continuing with its intended voyage to Malta. However, Malta RCC replied instructing the Master to stop the vessel and to await for further instructions because all ports were closed.

Dr Fenech informed Newsbook.com.mt that in fact, Malta Freeport Terminal where the vessel was to make a scheduled stop to discharge and load containers is not closed. She added that since then, the vessel has regularly been requesting Malta RCC for instructions on where to disembark the rescued migrants and permission to carry on with its scheduled voyage to Malta and Malta RCC has repeatedly stated that the matter has now been referred to the Prime Minister and they are to await further instructions.

On Monday 4 May the Master reported to Malta RCC informing that 6 of the migrants had been taken ill. Malta RCC first said it would be sending a helicopter but then when it was confirmed by the ship that these persons were not in danger of dying, Malta RCC instructed the Master to keep monitoring the situation.