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Sea-Watch 2.jpg
Sea Watch 2 in the port of Hamburg on 21 March 2016
Established19 May 2015 Edit this on Wikidata (4 years ago)
FoundersHarald Höppner Edit this on Wikidata
HeadquartersBerlin Edit this on Wikidata

Sea-Watch is a German non-governmental organisation supporting the rescue of refugees in the Mediterranean, notably by commissioning rescue ships.


Sea-Watch [de] is a former 21.12-metre fishing ship, built in 1917[1] and purchased in 2015, and used as a rescue ship until later that year, when she was transferred to the organisation Mare Liberum.

Sea-Watch 2 is a former fishing research ship originally commissioned as Clupea in 1968. She was deployed on 14-day rescue operations between Libya and Malta in 2016 and 2017, along with the Sea-Watch, before being sold to the Mission Lifeline [de] organisation and is now operated under the name Lifeline.[2]

Sea-Watch 3 [de] is a 50.53-metre ship, built in 1972 as an offshore supply ship before being commissioned as a search and rescue vessel by Médecins sans frontières under the name Dignity I.[3]


On 6 November 2017, the crew of a Sea-Watch ship rescued 58 people in an operation hindered by the Libyan Navy. 20 people drowned.[4][5][6] Video footage proving responsibility of the Libyan Coast Guard was later used as proof in a legal action against Italy before the European Court of Human Rights.[7]

Sea-Watch resumed her operations in November 2018,[8][9][10] after being detained in Malta between July and October.[11]


On 22 December 2018, Sea-Watch 3 rescued around 32 people[12] but found herself unable to call port neither in Malta, nor in Italy or Spain.[13][14] On 3 January, France, Germany and the Netherlands offered to take some of the 49 migrants blocked off Malta on the Sea-Watch and the Sea Eye "as a collective allocation effort".[14][11] According to Mina Andreeva, spokeswoman of the European Commission, "more solidarity" is needed, as well as "foreseeable and sustainable solutions for the landing and relocalisation in the Mediterranean"; she quoted the Commissioner in charge of Migrations, Dimitris Avramopoulos.[15]

Two weeks after the rescue, the 49 migrants were still blocked off Malta on Sea-Watch 3 and Sea-Eye [de],[16] in spite of an appeal by Pope Francis.[17] On 9 January, however, they were allowed to disembark in Malta[18] after an agreement was reached to relocate them to eight other European countries.[19][20] On 19 January, Sea-Watch 3 rescued 47 further migrants. The Italian government forbade her from calling port, and started a legal action against the Netherlands;[21] the organisation Sea-Watch referred the case to the European Court of Human Rights.[22] On 29 January, Italy, Germany, France, Malta, Portugal, Romania and Luxembourg agreed on dispatching the 47 migrants.[23] Matteo Salvini demanded that the Sea-Watch 3 be detained,[23] and as she was docked at Catania to land the migrants, she was blocked by the Italian military on grounds of "a number of non-conformities"; the NGO denounced this as political pressure.[24]

On 19 May, the Italian police seized Sea-Watch 3 at Lampedusa, yielding the disembarking of the 47 migrants she had picked up on 15 May.[25][26] Matteo Salvini, who opposed the landing of the migrants, was furious.[26][27] In June 2019, the ship was again detained, with 53 migrants that had been rescued off the coast of Libya on 12 June.[28] Italy allowed only 11 especially vulnerable people to disembark; on 25, the captain of Sea-Watch 3 threatened to land at Lampedusa in spite of the interdiction,[29] eventually entering Italian territorial waters "not as a provocative act, but out of necessity and responsibility", according to the NGO.[30][31][32] A column in the French Le Monde stated that Captain Carola Rackete was only "reminding us all of the existence of international conventions [such as that stating that] rescue at sea is a duty for all".[33] In an editorial, 700 celebrities supported the migrants and opposed Salvini.[34] A poll by the Italian Right-wing daily Il Giornale showed 61% of Italians were opposed to Sea-Watch 3 landing at Lampedusa.[35] In the night of 28 to 29 June, the ship was seized and Carola Rackete was arrested for helping illegal immigration.[36] Sea-Watch 3 collided with the 50 ton Class 800 patrol boat[37] "808" of the Guardia di Finanza, which had tried to block the larger vessel from docking. The boat was pushed against the dock and slightly damaged.[38] The Guardia di Finanza has Combatant-status while protecting waterways, so Italian media reported that Rackete could also be charged with attack on a warship, punishable with 3 to 10 years prison.[39] 2 days later an italian judge decided, that no further incarceration was necessary and Rackete was released, while the criminal investigation continues.[40]

See also[edit]

References [edit]

  1. ^ "Sea-Watch 1 • Sea-Watch e.V." Sea-Watch e.V. (in German). Retrieved 2019-07-05.
  2. ^ "Sea-Watch 2 • Sea-Watch e.V." Sea-Watch e.V. (in German). Retrieved 2019-07-05.
  3. ^ "Schiffsdetails Für: SEA WATCH 3 (Salvage/Rescue Vessel) - IMO 7302225, MMSI 244140096, Call Sign PE7098 Registriert In Netherlands | AIS Marine Traffic". (in German). Retrieved 2019-07-05.
  4. ^ "Des chercheurs retracent le "sauvetage" désastreux de 150 migrants en Méditerranée". Le 2019-01-03. ISSN 1950-6244. Retrieved 2019-01-03.
  5. ^ Heller, Charles; Pezzani, Lorenzo; Mann, Itamar; Moreno-Lax, Violeta (2018-12-26). "'It's an Act of Murder': How Europe Outsources Suffering as Migrants Drown (Opinion)". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-01-03.
  6. ^ "Enquête. Comment l'Europe et la Libye laissent mourir les migrants en mer". Courrier international (in French). 2019-01-02. Retrieved 2019-01-03.
  7. ^ "Une vidéo du "New York Times" montre comment l'Europe laisse les migrants mourir en mer". Libération. 2019-01-04.
  8. ^ "Trois ONG lancent une opération de sauvetage au large de la Libye". Le (in French). 2018-11-23. Retrieved 2018-12-23.
  9. ^ ""Aquarius" : "La non-assistance à personnes en danger est revenue en force en Méditerranée"". Le (in French). 2018-12-07. Retrieved 2018-12-23.
  10. ^ "Migrants : "Il existe une politique de criminalisation des sauvetages en mer"". Le (in French). 2018-11-24. Retrieved 2018-12-23.
  11. ^ a b "Les ONG de sauvetage de migrants sont de retour en Méditerranée". Le Monde. 2019-01-04. Retrieved 2019-01-04.
  12. ^ "Christmas at sea: 344 people rescued within 24 hours - no safe port for the rescued people on Sea-Watch 3 • Sea-Watch e.V." Sea-Watch e.V. 2018-12-23. Retrieved 2019-07-05.
  13. ^ "Migrants en Méditerranée : l'appel de la ligue des droits de l'homme Corse". France Bleu (in French). 2019-01-02. Retrieved 2019-01-02.
  14. ^ a b "La France prête à accueillir des migrants bloqués au large de Malte". Le (in French). 2019-01-03. Retrieved 2019-01-03.
  15. ^ "49 migrants dans l'attente de la bonne volonté européenne". 2019-01-05.
  16. ^ "Migrants : les navires Sea-Watch et Sea-Eye toujours bloqués en mer". TV5MONDE (in French). 2019-01-06. Retrieved 2019-01-07.
  17. ^ "Migrants bloqués au large de Malte : le pape lance un appel à la solidarité européenne". Le Monde. 2019-01-07.
  18. ^ "EU hostages finally set free after 19 days aboard Sea-Watch 3 • Sea-Watch e.V." Sea-Watch e.V. 2019-01-09. Retrieved 2019-07-05.
  19. ^ "Les cris de joie des réfugiés du Sea-Watch en apprenant qu'ils ont enfin le droit d'accoster à Malte". Le Huffington Post (in French). 2019-01-10. Retrieved 2019-01-11.
  20. ^ "Scènes de joie à bord du Sea Watch avant le débarquement à Malte". (in French). 2019-01-09.
  21. ^ "Italy vows to sue NGO over migrant rescue boat". Retrieved 2019-01-28.
  22. ^ "Migrants : l'ONG Sea-Watch saisit la CEDH contre l'Italie". Le Monde (in French). 2019-01-29. Retrieved 2019-01-29.
  23. ^ a b "L'Italie parvient à un accord sur les 47 migrants du "Sea-Watch"". Le Monde (in French). 2019-01-31. Retrieved 2019-01-31.
  24. ^ "Le navire "Sea-Watch" bloqué en Sicile par les gardes-côtes italiens". Le Monde (in French). 2019-02-01. Retrieved 2019-02-01.
  25. ^ "Après la saisie d'un bateau de Sea Watch, des migrants débarquent à Lampedusa, malgré l'interdiction de Matteo Salvini". Franceinfo (in French). 2019-05-20. Retrieved 2019-05-20.
  26. ^ a b "Matteo Salvini couronné "prince" des extrêmes-droites européennes voit son autorité bafouée en Italie" (audio). France Culture (in French). Retrieved 2019-05-20.
  27. ^ "Le ministre de l'intérieur italien Salvini furieux de voir des migrants arriver à Lampedusa". Le Monde (in French). 2019-05-20. Retrieved 2019-05-20.
  28. ^ "Réunis à Malte, les pays d'Europe du Sud, dont la France, restent en désaccord sur l'accueil des migrants". Le Monde (in French). 2019-06-15. Retrieved 2019-06-15.
  29. ^ "La tension monte autour du "Sea-Watch", bloqué en mer avec 42 migrants". Le Monde (in French). 2019-06-25. Retrieved 2019-06-25.
  30. ^ "Treize jours après avoir secouru plus de 50 migrants, le "Sea-Watch 3" force le blocus des eaux italiennes". Le Monde (in French). 2019-06-26. Retrieved 2019-06-26.
  31. ^ "Sea-Watch 3, l'honneur de désobéir". France Culture (in French). Retrieved 2019-06-27.
  32. ^ Sall, Rouguyata. "Le "Sea-Watch 3" toujours bloqué au large de Lampedusa après avoir forcé le blocus italien". Mediapart (in French). Retrieved 2019-06-28.
  33. ^ "Migrants : les leçons à l'Europe de la capitaine du "Sea-Watch 3"". Le Monde (in French). 2019-06-27. Retrieved 2019-06-27.
  34. ^ ""Sea-Watch 3": "C'est maintenant qu'il faut inverser la destruction du droit et de l'humanité"". Le Monde (in French). 2019-06-27. Retrieved 2019-06-27.
  35. ^ ‹See Tfd›(in Italian) Sea Watch a Lampedusa: ma il 61% degli italiani non vuole che attracchi,, 2019-06-27
  36. ^ "Migrants en Méditerranée: le "Sea-Watch 3" accoste à Lampedusa malgré le refus du gouvernement, sa capitaine arrêtée". Le Monde (in French). 2019-06-29. Retrieved 2019-06-29.
  37. ^ "Vedetta costiera V.800" (PDF). (in Italian). 2019-06-29. Retrieved 2019-06-30.
  38. ^ "Sea Watch, la manovra raccontata dai finanzieri: "Poteva schiacciarci. Voleva attraccare a tutti i costi, non speronare"". (in Italian). 2019-06-29. Retrieved 2019-06-29.
  39. ^ Rüb, Matthias (2019-06-29). "Riskantes Anlegemanöver lässt Stimmung kippen". Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (in German). Retrieved 2019-06-29.
  40. ^ "Matteo Salvini: Sea-Watch-Kapitänin Carola Rackete soll nach Hause". (in German). 2019-07-03. Retrieved 2019-07-03.

External links[edit]