With strife in Libya continuing, two ferries were used as hospital ships early in April. Ankara, the Turkish vessel which with sister Samsun evacuated foreign nationals from Bizerta when crisis started in February, returned to evacuate wounded civilians from the besieged city of Miserta, taking them first to Benghazi and on to Istanbul.
Medecins Sans Frontier chartered 34.5m Virtu Ferries catamaran San Pawl, usually linking Italy and Croatia, to carry more than 70 wounded men, women and children on a 280 mile journey from Miserta to Sfax in Tunisia. Although earlier evacuation of British citizens from Benghazi by HMS Cumberland hit the headlines, significant numbers had already left aboard ferries, Turkey also using IDO’s Austal catamarans Orhan Gazi I and Osman Gazi, from Benghazi.
Other Austal catamarans on the scene were Virtu Ferries’ pair San Gwann and Maria Dolores, running to Malta, while Greece acted with ANEK twins Hellenic Spirit and Olympic Champion arriving in Tripoli before same operator’s El Venizelos, Hellenic Seaways’ Express Santorini and Minoan Lines pair Europa Palace and Knossos Palace made special sailings together with Italian ships, including SNAV Toscana and Grimaldi-owned Cruise Roma and Tunisian ferry Habib.
The most unusual charter saw ANEK’s Lissos leave Libya to take around 1,000 Vietnamese workers all the way home.