The European Commission has already activated the procedure for the redistribution of the 159 migrants currently aboard Ocean Viking: France, Germany and Portugal have already shown their first willingness to accept quotas of asylum seekers.
On the basis of the current “consolidated relationship of collaboration and European solidarity, Taranto was therefore indicated as the port of landing,” The Interior Ministry in Rome announced.
“Tonight the government remembered Taranto, not for the ILVA affair or for the health of the inhabitants, but to land immigrants”, Matteo Salvini thundered in Chieti, talking about the government’s decision to allow the Ocean Viking in the port of Taranto.
ILVA, an Italian steelworks company, became part of ArcelorMittal Group as of 1 November 2018, but on on November 5, 2019 ArcelorMittal announced its intention to withdraw from the transfer agreement, returning it to ILVA, in extraordinary administration, within 30 days. Procedures to shut down the plant were started, then interrupted under legal and political pressure.
The leader of the League told Sky Tg24 recently, commenting on the decision of the company to create 4 700 redundancies by 2023, that: “I think nothing worse can be done”. He said the ArcelorMittal affair “was a resounding potential disaster” with the unemployment it would create.
Before the executive decision, the Democratic Party denounced the government for being to slow to react. “Ocean Viking has saved 162 people and has asked for a safe port to Italy. To date, Minister Lamorgese has followed the Salvini ‘protocol’. It means not assigning the port until the completion of the redistribution agreement between European countries. Wrong and absurd choice,” wrote Matteo Orfini, a member of the Democratic Party on Facebook.
He then added: “The rule in a civilized country should be to assign a port, land shipwrecked people and wait for redistribution safely on the ground. It’s December 22, it’s cold and waves of 5 meters are announced. Let’s avoid at least this time yet another madness.”
On 18 July 2019, the Norwegian-flagged ship run jointly by SOS Mediterranee and Doctors Without Borders (MSF) returned to the sea. The Ocean Viking conducts “search and rescue activities in the Central Mediterranean” with requests for donations with its #BackAtSea campaign.
Ocean Viking is registered as a cargo ship with the Norwegian International Ship Registry (NIS). The vessel was previously used as a support and rescue vessel for offshore oil and gas platforms in the North Sea. Built in 1989, it is 69.3 long and 15.5 meters wide.
The large bridge, once empty, is now equipped with 4 high speed rescue boats, a clinic for medical consultations, triage and recovery rooms.
The MSF team consists of 9 people: 4 medical staff (a doctor, two nurses and a midwife), a logistician, a cultural mediator, a Humanitarian Affairs Officer, a Field Communications Manager and a Project Coordinator who leads the team.
Another 9 people are part of the maritime crew and are employees of the shipowner.