The migrants struggling to stay afloat as Peter Henry von Koss arrived. Photo: Norwegian police
The Norwegian rescue boat sent to the Mediterranean earlier this summer has made its first rescue, picking up 14 Syrian refugees whose rubber boat floundered as they tried to make the crossing from Turkey to Greece.
The “Peter Henry von Koss' made the rescue early on Monday, delivering the refugees to the town of Mytilene on the Greek island of Lesbos.
“The migrants were gathered in front of the boat where they got water. They were afraid, but given the circumstances in good physical condition,” Terje Klevengen, the leader of the Norwegian mission said in a statement released by the Norwegian police
“We see that there is an urgent need for us, and that both our vessels and our equipment is suitable for the waters in which we work,” Ronny Pedersen from the Norwegian Society for Sea Rescue, which supplied vessel, said.
Peter Henry von Koss is one of two vessels Norway has sent to take part in the rescue mission managed by Frontex, the European Union's border agency.
On Saturday, Siem Pilot, an 88-metre offshore supply vessel, brought 785 migrants to the Italian port of Palermo, after Italian coastguard vessels picked them up off the coast of Libya.
Members of the vessels crew gave teddy bears to the children on board.
“Some members of the crew spoke to their own kids at home to see what they can do to help the migrant children our ship would rescue. Together they decided to bring teddy bears. There's plenty of them in Norway and these kids need to feel like real children,” said Erling Olstad, commander of Siem Pilot.
Olstad and his crew have taken part in five search and rescue operations since Siem Pilot joined Operation Triton three weeks ago.
During one of the earlier rescues, the crew gave medical treatment to some 20 women who received chemical burns from a mixture of gasoline and seawater while they were sitting in their rubber dinghy in the hot sun.
Last week, more than 6 100 migrants were saved off the coast of Libya. Since the start of the year, some 81 500 migrants have been rescued in the Central Mediterranean, with one in four saved with the participation of vessels and aircraft deployed by Frontex.