Couple Funds $2.6 Million Boat To Pick Up Migrants In Mediterranean, 1,441 Saved In First 2 Weeks

Millionaire couple launches the world’s first privately funded vessel aimed at helping migrants stuck in unsafe vessels in the Mediterranean Sea. Chris and Regina Catrambone used their personal funds to purchase and staff a $2.64 million boat that was specifically designed to help migrants making the arduous journey in unfit vessels. The couple initially came up with the idea for the migrant rescue boat after learning about the high number of migrant deaths that occur in the Mediterranean.

BBC reports that the Catrambones first learned of the migrant’s plight while yachting in the Mediterranean while on holiday. The couple noticed a winter jacket floating in the sea from the yacht deck and asked the captain how such an item may have made its way into the middle of the sea. The captain explained that the person who was wearing the jacket was likely dead and a migrant.

“His face became very dark and he said probably the person who was wearing it is not with us any more. That started to trigger our attention.”

The couple realized that the item had likely belonged to one of the thousands of migrants that make the strenuous journey across the Mediterranean each year in an attempt to reach Europe, and they knew they had to do something to help. Upon looking at the death statistics, the couple decided to purchase a boat specifically outfitted for migrant rescue and personally paid for the crew required to operate the large vessel. The project was called the Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) and cost the family $2.64 million of their own personal funds. The family’s private funds were enough to pay for a 60-day manned mission. The family then sought money from crowdsourcing and donations to extend the efforts.

During the first mission in 2014 of the MOAS, the vessel saved nearly 3,000 lives in just 60 days and this year looks even more promising. In the first two weeks of the vessel’s second mission, 1,441 migrants were rescued from the Mediterranean.

Of those rescued, 106 were children, 211 were women, and 1,124 were men. Christopher Catrambone says that the large rescue at the start of this season was like nothing he had ever seen.

“Our search and rescue crew has never seen anything like it. People just kept coming up from the hold in an endless stream of humanity. Some of them have told us terrible stories of persecution and escape. These people have no freedom. They have nothing.”

What do you think about the efforts being made by the Catrambone family and the Migrant Offshore Aid Station? Did you know that thousands of migrants die in the Mediterranean Sea each year attempting to reach Europe?

[Image Credit: Getty Images/ Marco Di Lauro]