A Search and Rescue journey begins when our vessels leave the port of departure.
Once at sea and particularly in the Search and Rescue (SAR) zone, a number of operations can take place. MSF carries out two types of SAR operations: rescues of people from boats in distress, and “transshipments” of people from/to other ships (transfers) in order to assure best rescue practices and to efficiently organize the presence of rescue assets in the search and rescue area. This is coordinated by the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) in Rome.
All operations that happen during the same journey are defined as ‘connected’.
The journey ends with disembarkation at an allocated port of safety, designated by the MRCC.
Each MSF operation can be initiated in the following three ways:
In the latter two cases, it is MSF’s responsibility to inform the MRCC about the vessel in distress. The MRCC then coordinates who will conduct the rescue.
The vast majority of our Search and Rescue operations happen in international waters. In exceptional cases interventions can take place in Libyan territorial waters. All exceptions are at the request of, and in coordination with, the MRCC.
The position and movements of MSF vessels are monitored with the Automatic Identification System (AIS). In order to track the movements of its vessels, MSF relies on regular and ad hoc reports provided by Vessel Finder, a network of AIS receivers from all over the world.
The most relevant data in the report (1 ship position every hour) are as follows:
Vessel Finder receives position data from terrestrial AIS receiving stations and stores this data in its own database. The coverage of the stations is limited by propagation of VHF radio waves and goes up to 50-70 miles radius far from the shore depending on the weather condition. In some areas and under some atmospheric or climatic conditions the coverage might can be compromised, leading to non-reporting or reporting of compromised and incorrect data.
For each rescue we aim at proving the following weather information:
The source of this information is of two types: the logbook (or statement of facts) written by the Master of the boat (in situ data collection) and the LaMMA consortium report (simulated data based on mathematical models and reconstructions centred on the GPS coordinates, time and known weather conditions).