Team Obama Botches Libya Evacuation, Charters Wrong size Boat
Hundreds of Americans trapped aboard a rescue ship that was too small to sail in rough weather have finally left Libya this morning.
The 167 stranded U.S. citizens have been holed up on the Maria Dolores since Wednesday, as rough weather has prevented the ship from leaving.
The Dolores left Tripoli at 6:37 am EST and is expected to reach its destination port of Valetta, Malta at around 3:00 pm EST.
Stranded: Hundreds of U.S. citizens are now on their way home
Home: Evacuees from Libya disembark from an Italian Air Force C-130 military plane at Rome's Pratica di Mare military airport
'The ferry carrying American and international citizens from Libya to Malta is finally underway,' U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley tweeted.
According to the State Department there are 285 passengers on board the Dolores, including 167 U.S. citizens and 118 people of other nationalities.
President Obama has been under intense criticism for his muted response to the bloodshed in Libya, with speculation that Colonel Gaddafi had intimidated the White House into silence by blocking the evacuation of U.S. citizens.
And last night, while the Dolores remained stranded, the president enjoyed a White House pop concert in celebration of Black History month.
Tony Munoz Editor of shipping magazine The Maritime Executive said: 'I don't understand why this vessel didn't leave earlier - The Maria Dolores is a new vessel built for Mediterranean seas.
'I can only imagine the captain was refusing to sail because he felt the vessel was not capable enough of taking the sea on.
Speaking to MailOnline, Mr Munoz said that there was no comparison between the 68 metre Dolores and the 204 metre Hellenic Spirit, used by the Greek government to evacuate its citizens from Benghazi.
'The U.S. needed to charter a bigger boat like the Greeks' he said.
'The fully hulled Spirit will be more durable outside a port, this much bigger vessel could take the rough seas on.
'There is no question about it, they [U.S.] should have been out of there long ago - why haven't they chartered a bigger boat like the Greeks or Turkish.
'At the very least, the government should have had a larger back up vessel on the way.'
Escape: These Chinese workers were some of the lucky ones to escape Libya for Crete yesterday
...meanwhile others had to make their own way across Libya's dangerous land border with Tunisia
Tens of thousands of foreigners are trying to flee the chaos in Libya, with Turks and Chinese climbing aboard ships by the thousands, Europeans mostly boarding evacuation flights and North Africans racing to border crossings in overcrowded vans.
The British Government sent three chartered planes to Tripoli, with the first returning in the early hours of Thursday morning.
China has evacuated more than 450 by plane and bus - nearly half of whom were employees of Sinohydro.
India's External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna said Friday that the government would send two flights a day starting Saturday to evacuate some of the 18,000 Indians in Libya. India is also sending ships.
Other countries, such as Greece and Turkey have been able to rescue thousands of their own citizens,despite yesterday's rough weather.
Earlier in the week, State Department official P.J. Crowley said Libyan authorities had refused the U.S. permission to land any chartered aircraft.
'We had requested permission to bring charter aircraft into Tripoli.
'That permission was not granted yesterday [Tuesday].
'We still would like to have permission to bring charters in for any additional Americans who want to leave.'
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1360120/Libya-unrest-...