As a Louisiana native, I remember how scared, frustrated and powerless we all felt watching so many people left to die during Hurricane Katrina.
A year ago, the Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) was an idea inspired by the October 20 tragedy in Lampedusa.
MOAS recently completed the first of three missions this year to help imperilled migrants at sea. By using drone technology to spot ships in distress and working closely with Italian authorities, the crew of the Phoenix offered life jackets, water, medical treatment and shelter to some of the bravest and most desperate people on the planet.
As an entrepreneur, I navigate tough logistical problems in business. As a social entrepreneur, I use the same skills applied to ‘lost’ causes to make a difference. The Phoenix is the first civilian maritime rescue vessel outfitted with top-notch remote piloted aircraft (drone) technology. Our camcopters work as extra eyes that see in the dark and never need sleep. As a result, we can spot, report and respond to distress calls before the worst happens.
Our 45-metre ship has 18 crew men and women on board. It’s a tight squeeze, as the helideck takes up half the upper deck, and supplies fill every nook and cranny. When the call comes in everyone suits up and starts saving lives. The work is uncomfortable and exhausting, but everyone on board is absolutely dedicated.
Just days into the first MOAS mission, the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre of Rome (MRCC) directed us to a rickety wooden boat in distress. Under their advisement, we took the migrants on board and administered first aid to the men, women and children. Meanwhile, we spotted an overloaded rubber dinghy. Following MRCC instructions and coordinating with an American ship, the rescue went smoothly. In all, MOAS saved 323 lives that day.
It was 30th August, the 9th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.