Kripos said that the ship had never before brought so many people on board. Photo: Kripos/Scanpix
The Norwegian rescue vessel Siem Pilot on Wednesday came to the aid of more than 1,000 people off the coast of Libya.
The Siem Pilot has saved more than 19,000 refugees and migrants in the Mediterranean since June 2015. On Wednesday, the ship received 1,017 people from an Italian supply ship along the coast of Libya.
The refugees were picked up by the Italian ship after departing form the Libyan city of Sabratha in crowded rubber boats on Tuesday night. They were then transferred to the Norwegian ship Siem Pilot.
According to The National Criminal Investigation Service (Kripos), there were people from over twenty nations, among them 107 children. The agency said Wednesday’s action was the ship’s largest ever rescue mission.
“The rubber boats were full of people and are not designed to go over the Mediterranean. They will sink if nobody comes and rescues them,” Siem Pilot force commander Pål Erik Teigen told Dagbladet.
The refugees were to be transported to Italy, where local authorities will decide if they can seek asylum or be sent back to their home countries, Dagbladet reported.
Nearly 40,000 people have been rescued at sea and brought to Italy since the start of the year, according to data released by the UN's refugee agency (UNHCR) earlier this week. Some 5,600 people were rescued from the Mediterranean on Monday and Tuesday alone.
In total, Siem Pilot rescued 19,209 people since last June, Kripos wrote on Twitter.
Siem Pilot has been involved in the so-called Triton mission in the Mediterranean since last summer, patrolling the waters between Libya and Italy.
The crew of Siem Pilot consists of personnel from the police, military and Stavanger-based shipping company O.H Meling & Co AS.