Norwegian Breakaway was called to assist in the rescue of approximately 200 migrants overnight near Italy, resulting in a four-hour delay that means the ship has had to forfeit the planned port visit to Catania, Sicily on Tuesday, October 10, 2023. The port visit was to have been from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., but the ship is enjoying a day at sea instead.
At roughly midnight on Monday night, October 9, 2023, the Italian Coast Guard reached out to Norwegian Breakaway with a request for assistance. A boat with approximately 200 migrants was adrift and intervention was essential, and Norwegian Breakaway was the closest vessel able to respond.
The 145,655-gross-ton cruise ship responded and diverted to reach the troubled migrant boat to support the efforts of two Italian Coast Guard vessels as the rescue was underway. A nearby cargo vessel also assisted in the rescue.
All souls from the migrant boat were successfully transferred to the Coast Guard ships. None needed to be brought aboard Norwegian Breakaway, though the ship was ready to receive them if necessary.
During rescue operations involving such a large number of individuals in distress, it is common for official vessels to request other ships to stand by in case further assistance is needed. This could be due to poor weather, the need for supplies, the essential speed of the rescue, or other factors.
Norwegian Breakaway was delayed approximately four hours before the cruise ship could resume course. This lengthy delay – while essential to ensure the safety of everyone rescued – did require the ship to cancel its planned visit to Catania on the eastern coast of Sicily, which had been planned for Tuesday, October 10.
Instead, the ship is enjoying a day at sea en route to the next port stop – Naples, Italy – on Wednesday, October 11. The ship is expected to arrive on time at 7:30 a.m. as planned.
With Catania and Naples approximately 264 miles (425 kilometers / 225 nautical miles) apart, the ship could not extend its planned time in Catania to compensate for the delay without impacting the arrival time in Naples and, therefore, compromising the overall time in that Italian gem of a city.
Norwegian Breakaway is currently sailing a 10-night Greek Isles & Italy itinerary roundtrip from Rome (Civitavecchia). The ship departed on Tuesday, October 3, and has already visited Santorini, Athens, Mykonos, Olympia, and Corfu. Naples and Livorno (Florence/Pisa) will be the final ports of call before the ship returns to Rome on Friday, October 13. At the moment, no other adjustments to the itinerary are expected.
When a rescue is needed at sea, any nearby vessel capable of offering assistance is obligated to do so under the SOLAS Convention – The International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea. This international maritime treaty sets safety standards for all ships, as well as guiding how vessels are to respond to other mariners in distress.
No political disagreements, religious differences, racial disparities, legal immigrant status, or other divisive social issues impact SOLAS – vessels are to respond to distress calls to the best of their ability, in any circumstances.
Once refugees are safe and tended to with any essential medical care, water, and food, the proper authorities will determine the next steps. This might include the individuals being repatriated to their native country, granted asylum in another nation, or permitted to continue on their way.
More and more migrant rescues have been happening in the Mediterranean in recent months. Unlike rescues in the Caribbean, which often involve small, makeshift rafts or boats that hold just a few refugees, larger boats are often used by refugees in the Mediterranean.
In late August, Celebrity Beyond assisted in a similar rescue of more than 200 refugees, also called into service by the Italian Coast Guard. The incident took place in the same general region between Sicily and Greece.
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