The medical organisation Medecins Sans Frontieres and SOS Mediterranee took the boatload of mostly young men to the Italian coast.
They are said to come from various West African countries, including Liberia, Ghana and Guinea.
Whether they will be able to stay in Europe is far from certain – but some are very hopeful.
“From a young age my dream is to come to Europe. So God helped me and you helped me to come to Europe, so I’m happy today,” said Moussa Deakit, a 35-year-old from Guinea.
The joint operation took place off the Libyan coast. Some of those on board complained of being forced to take to sea by traffickers who threatened to kill them.
The Italian coastguard said 4,000 migrants and refugees had been rescued from smugglers’ boats off Libya in 40 separate operations on Thursday alone.