MOAS (the Migrant Offshore Aid Station), based in Malta
Team: For Outstanding Team Contribution to a Maritime SAR Operation
As the MOAS boat, the Phoenix travelled to the zone of operations in the Central Mediterranean following a period of bad weather, they knew that many rescues lay ahead of them; but they could never have anticipated the scale of what they were about to face.
On Good Friday, 14 April 2017, the Phoenix helped to rescue of 273 people, transferring everyone onto an Italian coastguard vessel so that the MOAS crew could remain in the area to assist with further rescues.
By the end of the day more than 2000 people had been rescued by search and rescue (SAR) agencies, mostly NGOs and coastguard vessels.
On Saturday 15 April in the early hours of the morning, the Phoenix began receiving messages from the MOAS aircraft, the Rescue Coordination Center in Rome and other SAR organisations nearby of multiple vessels in distress at various locations across the area of operations.
By 05:10 the Phoenix had engaged in the first rescue of the day- a blue rubber boat with 116 persons on board, as soon as they had helped them, they found another large wooden boat nearby.
Throughout the day there were many more sightings of vessels and people in desperate need of assistance.
The Phoenix crew worked tirelessly helping to move people from boat after boat transferring them onto safer vessels.
With the swell still growing, the rescues became more challenging as people were helped to climb the sides onto a large fishing vessel in increasingly dangerous conditions.
The solidarity demonstrated by all the NGO SAR organisations over that weekend saved many, many lives. MOAS alone rescued and helped around 1,800 people, while the total number of people rescued across the weekend has been estimated to be 8,000.