Captain who rescued hundreds of refugees in Mediterranean to recount experience at CMA Conference
Captain Joshua Bhatt is a featured speaker at the Connecticut Maritime Association
’s Shipping 2015 Conference in Stamford at the Hilton Stamford Hotel in the Harbor Point Room (Lobby Level). The captain and his crew are responsible for the rescue of more than 500 refugees who were onboard a human trafficking ship from Northern Africa to Europe in October 2014. The Captain’s presentation on March 25 at 4 p.m. will be part of a larger international shipping industry examination of the still growing tragedy.
According to the United Nations’ Refugee Agency, more than 200,000 people, including both migrants and refugees, have crossed the Mediterranean Sea fleeing violent chaos in Syria, Libya and other Northern African countries. Of this total, 3,600 women, men and children have died or been reported missing at sea.
As the main destination for fleeing refugees, the Italian navy has conducted the largest search and rescue efforts to combat this humanitarian issue, titled “Operation Mare Nostrum.” This effort has rescued over 100,000 migrants in the year it was in operation, and is now succeeded by “Operation Triton,” launched by the European Commission and the European Union’s border control agency Frontex, which started in November.
International law of the sea requires all nation states and ships to assist persons in distress at sea, regardless of nationality, status or situation, and due to limited international border surveillance efforts, there is an increasing responsibility on shipowners and vessel operators to take direct action when coming across refugees in the Mediterranean. Large scale rescues at sea pose challenge to shipping companies and their crews that is enormous, and is an increasingly important subject of conversation for shipping companies and those in the maritime world. The panel discussion at the Connecticut Maritime Association’s Shipping Conference will address the effect that rescuing large numbers of migrants in distress has on crew members and shipping companies.