Brendan: Saving Lives At Sea

, ,

Update from Tribe Member Brendan saving lives out at Sea:

“I’ve spent some time reflecting on the first few days of this mission. It’s been utterly bizarre, and horrifying. The people crossing and arriving in our care, I’ve never seen anything like it.

The fear, the relief, the total exhaustion, the determination, the sadness and the joy of survival all mixed together in eyes of the hundreds of people I’ve seen.

We’ve rescued a hell of a lot of people and given out hundreds of lifejackets. We’ve provided medical care and comfort to numbers that are simply staggering. The numbers however, are just numbers, so I’ll leave statistics out of it. Each individual person is so incredibly important and each individual has their own story.


We’ve rescued people from all over. From Bangladesh to Nigeria to Eritrea. From Ghana to Sudan to Somalia. All kinds of people too, rich, poor, old, young, men and women. I can’t really keep up, it’s too much for me to take in. I just keep going, getting into the RHIB (a bit like a speedboat) when we spot a boat in distress, and dealing with whatever comes.

We work hard all day and eat when we can, eventually to slump in our bunks for a nights sleep. The team here is just awesome, and I love every single person in it.


A few moments that have stuck in my head include comforting big Barrett from The Gambia, a 23 year old giant of a man, full of muscles. After I returned to the ship from the RHIB, I went straight to see if any medical assistance was needed in the medical room. As soon as he saw me, he started to cry. He’d recognised me from pulling him out from the sea. This big bloke was sobbing his heart out, telling me how grateful he was for saving him. It really took me aback, it was like comforting a weeping lion.

Then there is the moment that I pulled a guy from the sea who had no lifejacket. I saw him go under the water and scream bubbles as the fear of death burned from his eyes into mine. He inhaled the sea, I saw it, but we still saved him. And then we just moved on to the next situation, the next person, like it was nothing. But it was everything to him.

Another moment I will never forget was just a couple of days ago, when I was passed the limp, exhausted body of a woman who had collapsed from dehydration on a rubber boat. So long had they spent squeezed together, in the sun. It showed me how important the work we do is, for if she had been there much longer, she would have surely died, as so many do.


There was the time that we took so many out of the sea that had fallen in, that our RHIB was completely flooded, a guy was bailing water out and throwing it over the side, but we were slightly below the waves at the back of the RHIB, so he was effectively achieving nothing. We just let him continue as we spluttered our way back to the ship.

I remember the moment that we rescued a boat with about 500 people onboard. The boat listed to one side, and I truly thought for a moment that we were about to witness a tragedy for hundreds. In the end it was a tragedy for fifteen people (and their families back home) who suffocated in the lower deck. I remember feeling lucky that it was only fifteen and then, being saddened by my own twisted perspective on life in that moment, feeling that I’ve become desensitised to all of this.

On another occasion, I was talking to two young lads who were asking about my football shirt. They said that they would now support my team, Newcastle United, and one day go and play for them. I told them that they couldn’t be any worse than we already had, and I offered them a place in the starting line up. They both just laughed. They were teenagers, seventeen and fifteen. Just ordinary boys, with normal dreams that all our boys have. No difference whatsoever. And that’s the thing really, there is no difference between us at all..

The only differences that there are, are man made and it couldn’t be any simpler than that for me. I was born in England, so I get one set of rules. They were born in Africa, so they get a different set of rules. Why do I get special treatment? What did I do to deserve such privilege? Who wrote these rules? Is it just the lottery of life? Can’t they work hard to earn a living in the same way that I do? Or is it a deliberate greedy plot to keep the riches of this world for the few, at the sacrifice of others?


So many of the reasons that people are making this journey are driven by the west though. And I’m not just beating up on the west, it’s more about the puppet masters than the rest of us. In the uk, 100 people have 30% of our riches, and they want to keep it that way. Other European countries have similar disparities. Greed and political power are driving this world to fight each other. The destabilisation of many parts of this world are caused by the will to control, for power and greed.

This destabilisation is the route cause of the Mediterranean crisis and our governments don’t seem to care enough about the consequences of it. They’d rather people drown in the sea than offer safe passage and assess the asylum claims from Europe. It’s the greatest tragedy of our lifetime.”

However ordinary people like Brendan and team member Dan are stepping up to do something about it, literally saving lives. To support our search and rescue efforts: