The Armed Forces of Malta information service.


Information published by the Armed Forces of Malta Press Releases:

Press-Media & Public Information Office
Armed Forces of Malta
Luqa Barracks
Luqa VLT-2000
Malta Tel.: +356-22494020
Fax.:+356-21241001 (office hrs) & +356-21809860 (all hrs)



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23 September 2009



Four Arab men were yesterday afternoon rescued off the high seas of the Mediterranean, in a position around 45 nautical miles (NM) from Malta.

The Armed Forces of Malta’s Rescue Co-ordination Centre (RCC Malta) at Luqa Barracks were yesterday morning alerted by their Italian counterparts at MRCC Rome, that the four men in a boat were in distress and required assistance.

As the AFM’s Air Wing dispatched an aircraft to the reported area to pinpoint the boat’s position, the Greek motor tanker “Olympic Spirit” sighted the four persons at sea, but was unable to take them onboard because of safety conditions prevailing at the time.

By 12.06hrs, the AFM Air Wing’s aircraft had sighted the four persons in distress in an 18-foot speedboat, adrift with the prevailing strong sea currents. A Maltese fishing-boat nearby, the “Madonna tal- Isperanza” was instructed by RCC Malta to proceed to their location, so as to render assistance as required.

Once on location, the Maltese fishing-boat’s crew found the four men in discreet health conditions, but one of them was lying on the speedboat’s bottom in a semi-conscious state. The men alleged they had been out at sea for five days in a bid to reach the Italian island of Lampedusa, but their fuel had run out.

The AFM Air Wing immediately scrambled an Alouette-III rescue-helicopter to the air to evacuate the unconscious casualty, whilst the AFM Maritime Squadron’s Protector-class vessel P-52 steamed to the area. From initial enquiries by the AFM crewmen, the rescued individuals claimed to be Palestinian but lacked documents to support this.

P-52 berthed back at its Haywharf home-base in Floriana at 23.30hrs

  Health-Related: Marine: Illegal Immigrants


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21 September 2009



A 45-year old Romanian crewman, onboard a Monrovian registered tanker, was earlier this morning urgently medically evacuated to hospital, suffering from a suspected hearth attack.

The tanker, “CONTI HUMBOLDT” informed the Armed Forces of Malta’s Rescue Co-ordination Centre (RCC Malta) at Luqa Barracks, at around 0930hrs that one of its crewmen required medical evacuation from the 184 meter tanker. The vessel was 14 nautical miles (NM) off Malta’s east coast.

An Alouette III rescue-helicopter of the AFM’s Air Wing was immediately scrambled to the air from its base at Luqa Airport.   Deployed on this rescue flight was newly-qualified rescuer Gunner Steven Xuereb, who was winched down onto the tanker to stabilize the casualty, Adrian Burtedy.   Both were winch-hoisted back on board the rescue-helicopter, and the casualty was directly conveyed to Mater Dei hospital for further treatment.

This was Gunner Xuereb’s first operational rescue.   He is also the AFM’s first Gozitan rescue-swimmer. The AFM Air Wing’s Rescue Section is a highly specialized team of personnel that trains soldiers in the skill of “Rescue Jumping”.   Apart from specializing in First Aid, helicopter operations, and other life saving skills, AFM rescuers must also be able to stabilize a casualty for transport by air to medical facilities.   Last July, six AFM soldiers were qualified as Rescuers after completed a year long course, bringing the total number of rescue-jumpers within the AFM up to sixteen.

Picture of tanker ship “Conti Humboldt” (

  Health-Related: Marine


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20 September 2009



Two persons were detained by Armed Forces of Malta personnel late last night, when they were found in possession of illegal substances during vehicle check-points mounted by soldiers from 1 Regiment's "C" (Special Duties) Company.

A 45-year old man from Birkirkara was found in possession of a suspected cocaine substance in the area of Mosta, whilst in a seperate incident a 24-year old woman from Qormi was found a short while later in possession of some cannabis.

Both detained persons were handed over to the district's Police for further investigations.



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18 September 2009


Italian – Maltese joint exercise “Canale 09”

The Italo-Maltese training exercise “Canale” this year returns to the Italian bay of Augusta in Sicily. This major joint training event is being held between the 18th and the 25th September 09. Its aim is to promote co-operation and peace in the Mediterranean region, with particular emphasis on the “5 + 5 Initiative” in this area. Exercise training activities will be focused on maritime Search-and-Rescue (SAR) and Maritime Law Enforcement (MLE) joint and combined operations.
Planned and organized by the Italian Joint Operational Headquarters (IT JOHQ), the exercise is coordinated by the Italian Navy along with the Italian Air Force, the Carabinieri and Italian Coast Guard utilizing its Maritime Rescue Coordinator Centre (MRCC) of Catania (with regards the relative SAR training-activity). This is the 16th edition of the exercise which involves naval and air units invited from Mediterranean countries forming part of the “5 + 5 Process”. Such training is in line with larger, already existing, regional initiatives (Mediterranean Dialogue and EUROMED), and make exercise “Canale 09” a significant practical facility for Confidence Building Measures (CBM) and a major step forward to the operational dimension of the “5 + 5 Initiative”. The exercise enables practical activity which the 10-nation group utilize in enhancing dialogue between the Northern and Southern shores of the Mediterranean basin.

Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Portugal, Spain and Tunisia have accepted the invitation to take part. Participation is normally by means deployed surface or air assets, but some nations instead send staff personnel to be integrated in all the exercise phases at various operational levels. The exercise has been organized into a number of distinct phases, each designed to exercise its participants in a number of different skills. All assigned tasks will focus towards soft-security issues rather than more traditional war-fighting skills.
The exercise aims at achieving improved cooperation using the operational capabilities of the participating air and naval forces. This is met through training respective participating Commands in the use of common standard procedures so as to promote co-operation between “5+5 Initiative” nations.

It also involves training respective Naval and Air Commands/Units in the planning of Maritime Search and Rescue (SAR) Operations and the correct use of SAR-techniques when assisting personnel and vessels in distress at sea. This helps to foster and exercise forms of integration and co-operation between participating Forces in MLE operations, in order to counter illicit activities at sea and the proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

To counter WMD trafficking, units will train in the deployment of security and inspection teams to conduct board and search operations onboard vessels. This ties in with training by Explosives and Ordnance Disposal (EOD) teams in detecting Improvised Explosive Device Disposal (IEDD) and underwater EOD operations. Such MLE training scenarios simulate naval operations aimed at denying transit activities made by pirates at sea. Simulated piracy attacks will involve the naval force in engaging the pirates and disrupting their attacks from being carried out.

Whilst the exercise is underway, training shall promote the use of Virtual – Regional Maritime Traffic Centre (V-RMTC) tools in order to develop an Exercise-dedicated Recognized Maritime Merchant Picture (RMMP). This also helps implement and employ a common communications plan for the command and control of joint and combined operations at sea.

On Friday 25th September, 2009, the Exercise “Canale” Directing-Staff (DS) will host distinguished visitors from the Italian and Maltese governments onboard Italian Navy Ship “Foscari”. From there, they will be briefed on the level of interoperability and capability developed within the framework of “Canale 09” during the “Post-Exercise (Postex) Conference.


  Press Notice: AFM Activity


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18 September 2009



A 37-year old Maltese fisherman from Zabbar, Mr. Andrew Debono, was earlier this morning at 09.10hrs urgently medically evacuated by means of an Armed Forces of Malta rescue-helicopter.

The casualty was onboard the local fishing-vessel "Sant' Anna" in a position 24 nautical miles (NM) from Malta. As the vessel started to proceed at speed back to Malta, the vessel traffic station of Valletta Port Control was alerted at 08.00hrs on Debono's condition as he had severe pains in his hand and arm, and was sweating profusely.

The AFM Air Wing's Alouette rescue-helicopter was immediately scrambled into the air by the AFM Rescue Co-ordination Centre (RCC Malta) at Luqa Barracks, and proceeded to the "Sant'Anna"`s position. The casualty was then winch-hoisted onboard the rescue-helicopter and safely conveyed to Mater Dei Hospital at 0920hrs.

  Health-Related: Marine


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08 September 2009



A 53-year old crewman of an Italian flagged fuel-oil carrier ship was earlier this evening medically evacuated to hospital by helicopter.

The crewman, Adrian Pralea - a Romanian national, was onboard the MT
"Alice" in a position 73 nautical miles East of Malta. The tanker informed
the Armed Forces of Malta's Rescue Co-ordination Centre, through its local
agents, that the crewman was unconscious and required urgent medical
evacuation to hospital.

With the tanker still 5 hours away from Malta, the locally based Italian
Air Force AB212 rescue-helicopter was immediately scrambled to the air to
airlift Mr. Pralea, as the vessel steamed closer to Malta. The casualty was
lapsing to and from conciousness throughout, and was safely landed at Mater Dei Hospital at 22.00hrs.


  Health-Related: Marine


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05 September 2009




  Press Notice: AFM Memorial Activity


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02 September 2009



A group of 96 Somali illegal immigrants were in the early hours of this morning rescued by an Armed Forces of Malta (AFM) offshore patrol vessel (OPV) whilst in distress in inclement weather on the high seas of the Mediterranean.

Initial reports were received by the AFM's Operations' Centre (RCC Malta) at Luqa Barracks late yesterday afternoon at around 17.00hrs from the local UNHCR representative offices in Malta, that a group of migrants was adrift out at sea. UNHCR-Malta had been in turn informed by the local Jesuit Refugee Service NGO (JRS) having handled information received from the migrants through a Somali source on the Island.

RCC Malta successfully made satellite-phone contact with the migrants onboard their vessel, learning that there were a number of children and females in the group adrift. A preliminary aerial search by the AFM's Casa-212 Aviocar maritime patrol aircraft did not yield results in the last hours of daylight available. Simultaneously, the AFM Maritime Squadron's Diciotti-class OPV, P-61, headed at speed to the migrants' last reported location.

By 22.21 hrs., the illegal immigrants were successfully located by P-61 onboard a 10-metre long grey dinghy in a position 75 nautical miles (NM) from the Italian island of Lampedusa, with no lifejackets. With fast deteriorating weather conditions at sea, particularly a South Easterly Force 5 sea state, and pregnant women onboard, the dinghy was found to be taking in water fast.

The group of 96 Somali illegal immigrants includes a total 26 females, 4 of whom are pregnant and 2 babies. Their condition overall is being described as fairly good. OPV P-61 is expected back in Malta later this morning at a yet unspecified time.


A press release issued later confirmed number of illegal immigrants is 84 and not 96, made up as follows:
53 males
2 children
29 female

This is a follow up to our press release below, to confirm the number of illegal immigrants (84) rescued, stressing that ALL immigrants have been rescued by the AFM.

Photo credit:
AFM Maritime Squadron Crew P-61

Go to Frontex Watch Page

  Illegal Immigration


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01 September 2009



A 47-year old Irish tourist was earlier this morning medically evacuated (medevac) by helicopter from onboard a pleasure cruise boat.

The Armed Forces of Malta's (AFM) Operations' Centre at Luqa Barracks was notified at 11.22hrs by the MMA's vessel traffic management station, Valletta Port Control, that a person onboard the pleasure-cruise boat ''Fernandez-2'' required medical evacuation to hospital as she was suffered fits and turning pale. The pleasure-cruise boat was at the time located at Blue Lagoon in Comino on a daily excusrion for tourists.

An AFM Air Wing Alouette rescue-helicopter was immediately scrambled into the air, whilst a Maritime Squadron Vittoria-class rescue-launch proceed at speed to the area to render assistance as required. The medevac came about simultaneously to a patient's routine transfer by another helicopter from Gozo General Hospital to Mater Dei Hospital in Malta.

  Health-Realted: Recreation - Fatal