Spanish naval ship Audaz, belatedly dispatched to the Italian port of Lampedusa in response to the Open Arms migrant crisis, continues to gently rise and fall at its anchorage. Since Friday, the Audaz has been sitting outside the Italian port, and its crew has divided into three shifts to rest until Monday, while awaiting the migrants from the Open Arms which it has to transfer to Spain.
The crew had been at sea taking part in surveillance tasks in the Mediterranean since August 14th, and on Saturday groups of crew members began shuttling to the port to comply with regulations on rest days.
Since dropping anchor off the Italian island, the Audaz has been awaiting instructions from Spain and decisions from Italian justice and the EU on the migrants from the Open Arms, a proportion of whom in theory will be transported aboard the naval vessel to Spain.
The ship is expected to bring over 15 of the migrants rescued by the Open Arms to Spain, in accordance with the distribution decided by the European Commission, with a proportion of the migrants also having been assigned to Germany, France, Luxembourg and Portugal.
The mayor of Lampedusa, Salvatore Martello, explained on Saturday to the EFE agency that "in Italy nobody knows what to do with the Audaz" anchored near the mouth of the island port.
"I have spoken to the Lampedusa harbour masters and they know nothing about it," Martello said, in statements to EFE. He also questioned whether the Spanish executive sent the ship "on its own initiative or after talking to someone" in Italy.
The Audaz needs authorization to dock at the port, or for the migrants to be ferried out to the ship, but Italy is in a political crisis, with an acting government, "and nobody wants to make decisions," according to Martello.
The 83 rescued migrants spent 19 days on board the Open Arms, which was refused permission to disembark in Italy, before finally being allowed ashore at Lampedusa last Tuesday after an Italian court ruling. The judge's order came shortly after the Spanish government had decided to send the Audaz to the island. Now both the Spanish vessel, and full resolution of the crisis, seem to be becalmed once again.