Thursday, October 29, 2015

Freight and Logistics Group Chooses Road Haulage Route for Boats to Aid Refugees

Humanitarian Crisis Prompts Rescue Assistance
Shipping News Feature
EUROPE – The migrant crisis which is casting a shadow over the Southern continent has seen two high-speed boats sent from Sweden to join the maritime rescue effort in the Eastern Aegean. The craft were sent by the not-for-profit NGO, the Swedish Sea Rescue Society (SSRS), in response to the growing humanitarian crisis that has seen thousands of refugees attempting to cross the sea to enter Europe through the islands of Eastern Greece and the movement was undertaken by freight and logistics group GAC which utilised the road haulage option to transfer the vessels.

The SSRS approached GAC Sweden to coordinate the transportation of the two 12-metre boats each weighing 12 tonnes to Greece, as a matter of urgency. The route was planned, documentation arranged, and the two boats set off on low-bed trucks from Stockholm on their trip through six European countries – Sweden, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria – before reaching Greece. Despite a few technical issues – including a change to route to exclude Italy where some issues with the load dimensions were encountered, and a truck break-down which was repaired en route in Romania – they arrived at Aghios Cosmas Marina, south of Athens, just ten days later.

GAC Greece undertook the overseeing of the unloading and launch of the boats for the last leg of their voyage by sea to the island of Samos, just a few kilometres off the Mediterranean coast of Turkey. Capt. Rolf Westerström, CEO of the Swedish Sea Rescue Society, commented:

“With this project, we are able to make a real difference. Sea rescue knows no borders, we assist when we have the possibility. For this task, we needed a first class service from all suppliers, and that’s why we chose GAC as our agent.”

According to figures from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), in July 2015 alone 50,000 new arrivals were reported, mainly to the islands of Lesbos, Chios, Kos, Samos and Leros. 2014 was the deadliest year on record, with over 3,500 deaths while attempting to make the crossing, but 2015 looks set to set a grim new record, with at least 1,850 estimated deaths reported in the Mediterranean in the first five months of the year alone.

Photo: The SSRS rescue boats arriving and being unloaded at Aghios Cosmas Marina, south of Athens. ©Patrick King Photo/GAC, 2015.