As long as EU governments fail to take their responsibility for search and rescue operations, and as long people continue to flee Libya, humanitarian vessels will be needed in the Mediterranean. For MSF, whose work is governed by humanitarian principles, it would be unconscionable not to try to prevent people from dying at sea and to take them to a safe place, where those in need of international protection can seek asylum with the relevant authorities.
Ocean Viking is a Norwegian-owned ship with a Norwegian flag. It is an Emergency Response and Rescue Vessel (ERRV)—a standby offshore supply vessel ready to rescue a large number of oil workers from oil platforms in case of an accident and mass casualties. Built in 1986, it is 69 meters in length and 15.5 meters wide. It is fully equipped to perform search and rescue with four high-speed rescue boats, as well as a medical clinic with consultation, triage, and recovery rooms. The ship can take up to 200 survivors on board. The MSF team on Ocean Viking, consisting of nine people, is in charge of the medical and humanitarian needs of rescued people on board. The SOS MEDITERRANEE team, consisting of 12 people, is in charge of search and rescue activities. Another nine people are part of the ship's marine crew and are employed by the ship owner.