eating dinner in the ship's main dining room when at about 8:20 PM I
sensed the ship making some unusual movement. It was still light
enough to see the horizon and the seas were fairly calm. I could
tell the ship was not pitching or rolling, so I just ignored the
minutes later the Captain came on the intercom and said a lookout
had spotted a small boat with some people waving life jackets. We
were about 20 miles off the shore of Tunisia and in international
waters, so the Captain followed standard procedure and made a sharp
turn to approach the boat. When we got close he lowered the ship's
"fast boat", which is a high-powered Zodiac-type craft, and
discovered that the people in trouble were in fact 8 young male
refugees from Algeria who were trying to get to Sardinia. From our
position Sardinia was nearly 50 miles away.
had started out with an operational outboard motor, but it soon
stopped working and they had only a couple of oars. Their boat was
being pulled by the sea's currents and it was clear they were never
going to make it to Sardinia. The captain said the fast boat would
provide them blankets, food, and water while he contacted the local
Coast Guard to see if they would come pick the men up.
By this time
we had finished dinner, it was totally dark outside, and the ship's
fast boat was helping the small boat stay close to our ship. I got
my wife's Sony H9 which has the ability to take photos in total
darkness and went to the lowest deck to see what was going on.
These photos are the result.
Captain told us that neither Algerian nor Italian Coast Guard wanted
to do anything about the small boat or the people in it, so our ship
took the 8 survivors on board, kept them in the crew quarters under
guard, and arranged for them to be returned to Algeria the next day.
We never heard what happened to them after that.