Aquarius in 2012.
|Operator:||German Coast Guard|
|Ordered:||30 December 1975|
|Launched:||19 November 1976|
|Commissioned:||9 December 1977|
|Fate:||Transferred to NGO SOS Méditerranée|
|Operator:||NGO SOS Méditerranée|
|Acquired:||1 May 2009|
|Operator:||NGO SOS Méditerranée|
|Acquired:||1 September 2018|
|Operator:||NGO SOS Méditerranée|
|Acquired:||1 September 2018|
|Operator:||Jasmund Shipping GmbH & Co. KG|
|Acquired:||1 November 2018|
|Draught:||19.0 feet max.|
|Propulsion:||2x Siemens AG Dynamowerk IP 4330-2 DM 04|
The MV Aquarius Dignitus, formerly Aquarius 2 and Aquarius, is a 1977-built dual-flagged (Germany and Panama) search and rescue vessel, which has been used to rescue refugees and illegal migrants stranded in the Mediterranean sea since 2016. It has been chartered and operated since February 2016 by the NGOs SOS Méditerranée and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF or Doctors without borders) as a rescue vessel for migrants and refugees making the Mediterranean crossing in makeshift craft from Libya to Italy as part of the European migrant crisis.
The vessel is a converted German coast-guard and fishery protection vessel (then named Meerkatze, built in 1977). The ship has a registered capacity to accommodate 25 crew members and usually carries 4 journalists and can carry up to 300 rescued migrants. All of the refugees sleep on the deck, as the vessel does not have beds, cabins or accommodation for refugees.
In November 2018, The Guardian reported that her flag had been revoked by Panama and Liberia, and there was a search for a prospective flag to register under.
Completed by Lürssen in Bremen in 1977, serial ID 13453, the ship was utilised by the German Federal Agency for Agriculture and Nutrition (BLE) unit of the Küstenwache, or the German Federal Coast Guard, as a "Fischereischutzboot" or fishery protection vessel.
The ship was classified by Germanischer Lloyd as a Class E2 Icebreaker, employed principally in the central North Sea and North Atlantic, where thanks to its design it proved excellent at navigating through adverse sea conditions. In 2009 it was decommissioned and replaced by the "Meerkatze II", previously the research ship Anton Dohrn. It was acquired by Bremen company RS Research Shipping (now Jasmund Shipping), renamed MV Aquarius and re-registered under Gibraltar port of registry. Here it operated until the end of 2015 as a survey vessel for renewable energy, oil & gas industry, and other offshore projects.
On 1 September 2018, the vessel's operators changed the ship's name from "Aquarius" to "Aquarius 2" and changed its vessel type from "research vessel" to "search and rescue vessel".
The ship has been operated and managed by Jasmund shipping GmBH since June 2017, and after a brief interval again since 11 September 2018. Prior to this, the ship was managed by Hempel shipping (2009-2017). The ship has been owned by Aquarius GmBH & Co KG since April 2009. On 16 August 2018, the ship was inspected by the Port state control (Pais MoU) at Valletta (Malta) and 5 deficiencies were found related to the crew certificates, oil record book and blocked routes of escape.
Operations in Mediterranean sea
In February 2016 the ship was chartered by humanitarian NGO SOS Méditerranée, to provide open sea rescue and support to migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea to reach the European Union. Operating on missions coordinated by Rome's maritime rescue coordination centre, patrolling the waters around Sicily, Lampedusa, and near the Libyan coast, it provided aid to over 10,000 migrants. On May 25, 2016 the Aquarius returned from its tenth rescue operation, having saved 388 migrants. A Ghanaian boy was born on board who was subsequently named Alex in honor of the Russian captain of the Aquarius, Alexander Moroz.
Aquarius and its migrants arrived at the Spanish port of Valencia on 17 June. Half of them opted to claim asylum in France, insofar as France opened the doors to anyone from the Aquarius.
In August 2018, Spain refused entry to the vessel carrying 141 migrants from Eritrea and Somalia as Spain is not the closest safe port, as stipulated by international law. They were distributed among France, Germany, Luxembourg, Portugal and Spain.
On 20 September 2018 the Aquarius picked up 10 Pakistanis and a Person from Ivory Coast from a dinghy 28 nautical miles from the Libyan coast and 120 miles from the closest European shore, the Italian island Lampedusa. The same day the Aquarius asked Italy and Malta permission to disembark the eleven migrants and both countries refused. The migrants were handed over to a coastguard vessel off Malta on 29 September 2018, after European governments had agreed to take the people in. The Aquarius 2 returned to Marseille.
In the autumn of 2018, the ship was repeatedly denied entry by Italy was instead forced to land in Malta and Spain. Italy had seen more than 700 000 migrants arrive on its shores in the 2013-2018 period.
In December 2018, MSF and SOS Méditerranée announced that they had ceased their operations with the ship due repeated accusations of trafficking in waste and criminal activity, but affirmed their determination to "resume our activities".
The vessel was flagged under the flag of convenience Gibraltar since February 2018. She was registered as a research and survey vessel, which subsequently led to administrative issues. On 6 August 2018 the Gibraltar Maritime Administration issued a "notice of removal" for the Aquarius, because she was registered as a survey vessel, but used as a rescue ship. As a result, the ship was warned that she would be removed from Gibraltar registry. Thence, the ship's operators approached other flags in order to register the ship under them. On 10 August 2018, they applied to register the ship with a Vatican-State flag, but this was denied by Vatican. On 27 August 2018 the ship arrived in Marseille and its operator MSF announced that the owner had applied for a registration of the vessel in the flag of convenience Panama on 20 August. However, on 22 September 2018 the maritime authority of Panama announced that it had initiated procedures to remove the Aquarius from its registry, quoting violations of international law with respect to migrants, rescue at sea and refusing to carry the migrants back to the area where they originated (UNCLOS, SOLAS and SAR convention). The government of Panama initiated the process based on information received from Italy that the Aquarius had not followed international regulations and legal proceedings concerning the transport of migrants. Aquarius was specifically accused of not returning the rescued migrants to Libya as required by the SAR convention. 
In September 2018, the vessel continued to be classed with Germanischer Lloyd and registered with Gibraltar flag as a research / survey vessel. This led to issues with authorities, as a research and survey vessel cannot operate as a passenger vessel unless it reflects these changes in its registry documents. After the ship returned to Marseille in early October 2018 the owner issued a statement about negotiating to obtain a new flag from Switzerland, Luxembourg or Venezuela.
- "Official website - SOS Mediterranea". www.sosmediterranee.com/. SOS Mediterranea. Retrieved 25 September 2018.
- "UNHCR welcomes Aquarius resolution, but stresses need for more predictable approach to disembarkation". www.unhcr.org/news. UN High commission on refugees. Retrieved 25 September 2018.
- "Vessel particulars - MV Aquarius". www.marinetraffic.com. Marine traffic. Retrieved 25 September 2018.
- "Vessel information - Aquarius (membership required - free membership)". www.equasis.org. Equasis. Retrieved 6 November 2018.
- [www.equasis.org "Vessel information - MV Aquarius 2"] Check
|url=value (help). Equasis official website. Equasis - Worldwide database of ships. Retrieved 6 November 2018.
- "Ship particulars - MV Aquarius". www.shipspotting.com. Ship spotting. Retrieved 25 September 2018.
- "Aquarius allowed entry into Malta". BBC. Retrieved 25 September 2018.
- "Our ship: the MS Aquarius". SOS Méditerranée. Archived from the original on 21 September 2016.
- Mediterranean: 99 survivors rescued from sinking dinghy but many presumed drowned 28 January 2018
- "On board a refugee ship - video". MSN. Newsweek. 15 August 2018. Retrieved 25 September 2018.
- Kelly, Annie (2 November 2018). "'Race against time': flag revoked for Aquarius migrant rescue ship". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 November 2018.
- "Ship inspection details - Aquarius 2". www.equasis.org. Equasis. Retrieved 6 November 2018.
- "Refugees: what is your nationality when you are born at sea?". Euronews. May 27, 2016.
- ANTONIO GIANGRANDE -PROFUGOPOLI VITTIME E CARNEFICI: QUELLO CHE NON SI OSA DIRE 2016 L'integrale nella puntata di Report in onda alle 21.10 su Rai 3, scrive Francesca Ronchin il 20 novembre 2017 su "Il Corriere della Sera". Sono le 6.30 del 18 maggio 2017 la nave Aquarius di SOS Mediterranee, a circa 15 miglia dalle coste della Libia, è impegnata nelle attività di soccorso di 562 migranti.
- Stefania Panebianco Sulle onde del Mediterraneo: Cambiamenti globali 8823814626 ... un medico tedesco con l'obiettivo specifico di salvare migranti e rifugiati a bordo della nave Aquarius MS, trasformata da peschereccio mercantile a struttura di soccorso, ha intensificato le sue operazioni. Insieme a un team di Médecins du Monde, sostituito il 2 maggio 2016 da MSF, l'Aquarius, ad oggi, ha salvato più di 2000 persone (Fig. 5.4). Figura 5.4. Numero di persone salvate da operazioni condotte da. 105 Società civile e migranti nel Mediterraneao.
- "Italy shuts ports to migrant rescue ship". 11 June 2018 – via www.bbc.com.
- "Spain offers to take in Aquarius ship carrying over 600 refugees". www.aljazeera.com.
- "Boat with over 600 rescued migrants stranded in Mediterranean amid Italy-Malta standoff". 12 June 2018. Archived from the original on 2018-06-12. Retrieved 2018-06-12 – via Japan Times Online.
- (www.dw.com), Deutsche Welle. "Spain will accept migrant ship Aquarius after Italy and Malta refuse entry - DW - 11.06.2018". DW.COM.
- "Spain Welcomes First Boat Carrying Aquarius Migrants". Headlines Today. Retrieved 17 June 2018.
- "Spain welcomes disputed Aquarius migrants". BBC. Retrieved 17 June 2018.
- Julien Duriez (18 June 2018). "Half of the migrants of the Aquarius claim asylum in France". La Croix. Retrieved 18 June 2018.
- "France will welcome the migrants of the " Aquarius ", Spain announces". Le Monde (in French). 16 June 2018. Retrieved 18 June 2018.
- JAVIER CASQUEIRO (16 June 2018). "Francia offers asylum to the migrants of the 'Aquarius' wishing to go to that country". El País. Retrieved 18 June 2018.
- Gortázar, Naiara Galarraga; Cué, Carlos E. (2018-08-13). "Spain will not accept NGO ship 'Aquarius,' which is carrying 141 rescued migrants". El País. ISSN 1134-6582. Retrieved 2018-08-17.
- "Aquarius ship to end migrant rescues, say MSF and SOS Méditerranée". France 24. 2018-12-06. Retrieved 2018-12-08.
- "Pourquoi le Panama veut retirer son pavillon à l'" Aquarius "". LeMonde (in French). 2018-09-22. Retrieved 2018-09-22.
- "Seenotretter sprechen von "Schikanen und Rechtsbrüchen"". Sueddeutsche Zeitung (in German). 2018-08-10. Retrieved 2018-10-08.
- "Migrant rescue ship Aquarius to be stripped of Gibraltar registration" radioexe.co.uk 13 August 2018.
- "Keine Vatikan-Flagge für Mittelmeer-Rettungsschiff". Vatican News (in German). 2018-09-28. Retrieved 2018-10-04.
- "Migrant rescue ship Aquarius getting Panama flag". Times of Malta. 2018-08-28. Retrieved 2018-08-29.
- "Rescue ship returns to Libyan coast". DW. Retrieved 25 September 2018.