Those eyes filled with joy. The joy felt by thousands of fortune-seeking migrants whom, as soon as they boarded the ship Orione, realized that they were finally safe after several hours drifting in the Mediterranean sea. In just over a year, Captain Bernardino Amodio’s ship has carried out 21 interventions, saving more then 4500 migrants. «The real challenge» says Amodio « is to take action as quickly as possible».
Do you recall your first intervention?
Certainly. September the 12th 2014, south of Lampedusa. A boat carrying 255 people, 177 of them men. Most of them were crammed below deck in inhumane conditions.
During the last year, has the migrant emergency necessisated the reformation of training for the crew?
That's never been needed. Preparing and training its crews for rescue and recovery missions at sea has always been placed among the Navy’s tasks. Rather, in the last years procedures are much more run-in, whilst technologies are more advanced. We have at our disposal small helicopters, and watercrafts are getting more agile.
Are the boats' conditions deteriorating ?
The precariousness of the boats is constant. This year there were more crossings in winter, with bigger but also fuller boats. However, what is more notable is the aggravation of the migrants’ physical conditions. Besides the exhaustion caused by the journey, migrants have had to endure dreadful conditions during their stay in Libya. You know it by their looks so marked by fear.
Was there an intervention that lead to a save that was impossible to forget?
Yes, it happened last April the 12th. We intercepted a fishing boat that was 25 meters long, and had 532 migrants on board. There were meter - high waves, the boat was overcrowded, and therefore we had to act with the utmost caution to prevent it from capsizing. The inflatable dinghies with which we carry out transshipments carry about twenty people at once, and so the process took much longer than usual. At a certain point, I was informed that there was a woman who was about to give birth. The baby was born just before we could approach her boat. Thankfully, there was an obstetrician on Orione. She promptly took care of the woman, and things turned out to be all right. The look full of double joy of that mother was one of those gazes that are unforgettable.
Do you remember the name of the child?
Of course. We were very hesitant, and we kept changing it. In the end we picked Mekesb, which was the father’s family name. That day, I should say, we saved 533 not 532.