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Carola Rackete

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Carola Rackete
Carola Rackete.jpg
Captain Carola Rackete aboard Sea-Watch 3 in Malta.
Born8 May 1988 Edit this on Wikidata (age 31)
Preetz Edit this on Wikidata
Alma mater
OccupationSea captain edit this on wikidata

Carola Rackete[nb 1] (born 8 May 1988 in Preetz, Germany) is a German ship captain who works for the German sea rescue organisation Sea-Watch.[1] In June of 2019, she was arrested for docking a migrant rescue ship without authorization in the port of Lampedusa, Italy.

Early life

Rackete was born in Preetz, near Kiel, Germany.[1] She graduated high school in 2007, then studied at Maritime School at Jade University of Applied Sciences in Elsfleth, earning a Bachelor of Science in nautical science and maritime transport in 2011.[1] The B.Sc. in Nautical science at Jade University meets the written examination requirement for the captain's licence of the Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency of Germany, which is later acquired on the basis of professional experience only.[2]

In 2018 she earned a master's degree in conservation management from Edge Hill University in England.[1]


Rackete was a navigation officer for two years in scientific expeditions in the Arctic and the Antarctic for the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research.[3]

For a short period of time, she worked as a conservation volunteer within the Kronotsky Nature Reserve in the Kamchatka Peninsula. Later, Carola Rackete worked as safety officer for Silversea Cruises, a ultra-luxury cruise line headquartered in Monaco. She later worked as second-officer on ships owned by Greenpeace and the British Antarctic Survey.[1]

As of June 2019 Rackete captained the Sea-Watch 3, a vessel of 645 gross tonnage, which flies a Dutch flag.[4]

Sea-Watch 3 incident of June 2019

On 12 June,[5] the ship picked up 53 migrants in the Mediterranean off the Libyan coast. Sea-Watch 3 rejected an offer to dock at Tripoli, which is considered unsafe by humanitarian organizations, and headed toward Lampedusa. According to a map they posted,[6] and also to a report by the Süddeutsche Zeitung and other NGOs this was the nearest safe harbor per maritime law.[7][3] On 14 June, Italy closed its ports to migrant rescue ships.[8] Italian interior minister Matteo Salvini refused to allow the ship to dock until other European nations had agreed to take the migrants.[9] Ten of the migrants, including children, pregnant women, and those who were ill, were allowed to disembark.[3] On 28 June, Finland, France, Germany, Luxembourg and Portugal offered to take the migrants.[9]

On 29 June, without authorization, Rackete decided to dock.[7][5] The motivation for this was that according to her the passengers were exhausted.[8] Rackete was arrested by the Italian authorities after docking.[3][10][11]

Italian interior minister Matteo Salvini accused Rackete of trying to sink an Italian patrol boat that was trying to intercept her and that her ship collided with, calling the incident an act of war and demanding the Netherlands intervene.[7][10]

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte "scrambled to address the matter" at the 2019 G20 Osaka summit.[12] Germany protested the arrest.[12] Crowdfunding appeals in Italy and Germany had raised over €1 million as of 1 July for Sea-Watch legal defense.[12] Fortune called Rackete the "fresh new face" of the European migrant crisis.[12]

The Sea-Watch 3 has a mainly German crew but sailed under Dutch flag.[13] In the Netherlands, main government party VVD stated that NGOs that deliberately without permission pick up people should be convicted for facilitating human trafficking.[14] Spokesman Jeroen van Wijngaarden said that: “They are factually not a rescue service but a ferry service”.[15] Within the Dutch coalition government, they got support from the CDA, and in the Dutch parliament there basically was a majority that supported this. Nevertheless, the two other parties in the coalition government protested strongly against this statement.[16][13]

Eventually, Rackete was released from house arrest after a court ruling that she had broken no laws and acted to protect passengers' safety.[17][18] Rackete's lawyer filed a lawsuit against Salvini for defamation on social media, alleging that he incited his followers to threaten her.[19]

The council of the City of Paris on 12 July 2019 announced that the two captains of the Sea-Watch 3, Pia Klemp and Carola Rackete, will receive the Grand Vermeil Medal, the top award of the City of Paris, for saving migrants at sea, because the two captains symbolized "solidarity for the respect of human lives".[20]

As of July 2019, Rackete is under investigation by Italian authorities for possible criminal activities in regards to undocumented migration. If convicted, Rackete could face up to 15 years in prison. [21]

See also


  1. ^ Rackete (originally derived from Raquette or Rachetta) is a very rare surname in Germany, consequently there is no universally accepted standard pronunciation. Applying normal German pronunciation rules, the name would have to be pronounced as Rackete (IPA: [ˈʁaketə]), but Carola Rackete’s name is instead pronounced identical to the normal German noun Rakete (IPA: [ʁaˈkeːtə]), which is also rare as a surname.


  1. ^ a b c d e "Wer ist Carola Rackete?". Kieler Nachrichten (KN) (in German). 2019-06-29. Retrieved 2019-06-29.
  2. ^ "Nautical Science and Maritime Transport". Jade University of Applied Sciences. 2019. Retrieved 2019-06-30.
  3. ^ a b c d Meiler, Oliver (2019-06-20). "Kapitänin gegen den Capitano". Süddeutsche Zeitung (in German). ISSN 0174-4917. Retrieved 2019-06-29.
  4. ^ "Sea Watch 3 - Salvage/Rescue Vessel". 2019.
  5. ^ a b "Italy Arrests Captain of Charity Vessel Carrying Migrants". Voice of America. 2019. Retrieved 2019-06-30.
  6. ^ Sea-Watch Italy (2019-07-14). "@SeaWatchItaly". Twitter. Retrieved 2019-07-15.
  7. ^ a b c Povoledo, Elisabetta (2019-06-29). "Italy Arrests Captain of Ship That Rescued Dozens of Migrants at Sea". New York Times. Retrieved 2019-06-29.
  8. ^ a b Tondo, Lorenzo (2019-06-26). "Migrant rescue ship defies Salvini's ban to enter Italian port". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2019-06-29.
  9. ^ a b "Italy arrests life-saver for 'act of war'". 2019. Retrieved 2019-06-30.
  10. ^ a b "Migrant rescue ship captain arrested at Italy port". BBC. 2019-06-29. Retrieved 2019-06-29.
  11. ^ "Sea-Watch 3 mit Flüchtlingen legt auf Lampedusa an / Polizei verhaftet Carola Rackete" (in German). 2019-06-29. Retrieved 2019-06-29.
  12. ^ a b c d "This ship captain just torpedoed Italy's relationship with its EU partners". Fortune. Retrieved 2019-07-04.
  13. ^ a b "Dutch government confirms correct registration and flag of Sea-Watch 3". Retrieved 2019-07-05.
  14. ^ Boon, Floor (2019-07-03). "Plan om redden van migranten op zee strafbaar te stellen splijt coalitie". NRC (in Dutch). Retrieved 2019-07-05.
  15. ^ "VVD wil celstraf voor oppikken migranten op zee" (in Dutch). 2019-07-03. Retrieved 2019-07-06.
  16. ^ "VVD wil studie naar celstraf voor oppikken migranten op zee" (in Dutch). 2019-07-03. Retrieved 2019-07-05.
  17. ^ "Hausarrest aufgehoben "Sea-Watch"-Kapitänin Carola Rackete kommt frei" ["Sea-Watch" captain Carola Rackete is released]. Spiegel Online (in German). Hamburg, Germany. Reuters. 2019-07-02. Archived from the original on 2019-07-02. Retrieved 2019-07-02.
  18. ^ "Sea Watch captain Carola Rackete released, but controversy rages on". EuroNews. Retrieved 2019-07-04.
  19. ^ Balmer, Crispian (2019-07-05). "German rescue captain to sue Italy's Salvini over migrant comments". Reuters. Retrieved 2019-07-12.
  20. ^ "Rackete files suit against Salvini - German migrant rescue skipper gets Paris' top prize". Agenzia Nazionale Stampa Associata (ANSA). 2019-07-12. Retrieved 2019-07-13.
  21. ^ Rescue vessel Sea-Watch captain questioned in Italy over migrants

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Further reading