Technical issues on Sea-Watch’s fourth patrol

The Sea-Watch was supposed to come back to the harbour on the 14th, unfortunately, however, it had to prematurely interrupt its fourth patrol, due to technical issues.

Our 98 years old vessel is constantly under big pressure due to its delicate activity at sea. The engine started making unusual noises during the cruise, crying for some deserved rest. For the safety of the crew the skipper decided to sail back to the shores of Lampedusa, in order to get the Sea-Watch repaired as soon as possible and have it “in shape” again to continue its service, which is much needed at sea in this moment.

As reported on the ship log by the skipper, Dirk, “on 06.08.2015, when the clock marked 1:15 pm a message came from the machinists: the transmission of the main machine makes grinding noises. The noise could have been symptom of a serious damage. Therefore, as skipper of the Sea-Watch for this mission, for the safety of my crew, at 2.15 pm I decided to reverse our course towards Lampedusa. The ship could no longer be considered fully operational and able to fulfill its SAR tasks and urged to be repaired in the shipyard.”

While sailing back to land, the crew got operationally and psychologically ready for the potential failure of the main engine and informed the land Team to get ready to provide assistance. The latter immediately started managing to collect the necessary spare parts and got ready to welcome the Sea-Watch. The ship entered the harbour like a warrior coming back wounded from a battle, yet not giving up the war, to honour the noble cause of hope at sea.

The crew safely arrived in the port of Lampedusa on the 7th. Since then all members endeavoured to speed up the process of reparation of the vessel and, in collaboration with the land Team, sought for an alternative solution by temporarily renting another boat.

The crew’s Communication Officer Jonas comments: “We don’t want to stay in the harbour, but go out and save lives. That is why in the past few days stuck on land we tried to find a replacement ship through the action of the land Team.”

Several attempts to find a substitute for the Sea-Watch reminded all of us how our ship, despite its age and early XIX century look, is very difficult to replace.

On board of the Sea-Watch there is enough space and adequate equipment to host 8-9 persons, hundreds of life-vests and life-rafts of 300 kg each, mounting options to put the life-rafts and the tender in the water and advanced communication tools. In the harbour of Lampedusa there is no other ship having all these options. We tried all, but there is no Sea-Watch project without the Sea-Watch ship.

“Technical damages at sea can always occur. Even with much more modern ships.” Dirk wisely said. “In our case, more than 700 lives were saved with a very old vessel and in a short time. This means that the operational tasks of the Sea-Watch are not disproportioned vis-à-vis the capacity of the vessel.” Our boat showed that it can fulfil the mandate of the organisation which gave it its name. However, the project is young and still lacks sufficient financial resources for a more powerful, freshly built and better equipped ship. “This will be an exciting goal for the near future.” The skipper suggests.

Now all the efforts are focused on ensuring that “we bring the Sea-Watch back on its feet” to use Jonas’ words. A new team member, Frank, just landed to bring its competence and support as well as the necessary tools to enable the technical team to work on the engine. By the end of the week the ship should be ready to be handed over to the fifth crew.

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