Sea-Watch 3

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Sea-Watch 3
4 grodotzki seawatch3 20181219 3388.jpg
Ship data
flag GermanyGermany Germany
other ship names

Alegrete (1973–1990)
Seaboard Swift (1990–1995)
Hornbeck Swift (1995–1997)
Swift (1997–1999)
Swift 1 (1999–2004)
VOS Southwind (2004–2010)
Furore G (2010–2015)
Dignity I ( 2015-2017)

Callsign PE7098
home port Amsterdam
Owner Sea-Watch e. V.
Shipyard Shimoda Dockyard, Shimoda
Build number 211
Keel laying 1972
Ship dimensions and crew
50.35 m ( Lüa )
45.50 m ( Lpp )
width 11.58 m
Side height 4.58 m
Draft Max. 3.62 m
measurement 648 GT / 195 NRZ
Machine system
machine 2 × Caterpillar diesel engine (type: D399TA)
performanceTemplate: Infobox ship / maintenance / service format
1,630 kW (2,216 hp)
10 kn (19 km / h)
propeller 2 × fixed propellers
Transport capacities
Load capacity 498 dw
Classifications DNV GL
IMO 7302225

The Sea-Watch 3 is a ship of the Sea-Watch organization based in Berlin . The ship is around 50 m long and is registered as a yacht in the Netherlands . It is used for sea ​​rescue in the Mediterranean .


The ship is powered by two four-stroke - sixteen-cylinder diesel engines from Caterpillar (type: D399TA) driven together 1,630 kW, which via reduction gears on two fixed propeller effect. It thus reaches around 10  kn . The ship is equipped with a bow thruster .

Two generator sets with 156 and 184  kVA apparent power are available for power generation, which are driven by a Detroit diesel engine and a Caterpillar diesel engine.

During the service as Furore G , the ship was operated by eight crew members who were accommodated in individual cabins. There was also space for seven more people in three double and one single cabin.

The Sea-Watch 3 is the successor to the Sea-Watch 2 (2016-2017) and the Sea-Watch (2015).


The ship was built under the hull number 211 by Shimoda Dockyard in Japan as an offshore supplier. The keel was laid in 1972. The ship was delivered to Petroleiro Brasileiro SA Petrobras Frota Nacional de Petroleiros in Rio de Janeiro at the beginning of July 1973 and put into service as Alegrete . In 1982 it was sold to Companhia Brasileiro de Offshore in Salvador .

In 1990 the ship was sold to Sunset Shipping in Douglas on the Isle of Man and converted into an offshore safety ship. The ship's new name was Seaboard Swift .

In the second half of the 1990s it was sold and renamed several times: in 1995 it came to Hornbeck Shipping in Douglas and was renamed Hornbeck Swift , in 1997 as Swift to Tidewater Marine (Northsea) in Den Helder and in 1999 to Rederij West Friesland in Den Heroes who renamed it Swift 1 . The Rederij West Friesland had it converted into a support ship for seismic research at the Frisian Shipyard in Harlingen .

In 2004 the ship came to Telco Marine in Den Helder, but a few months later to Vroon Offshore Service. The ship's new name was VOS Southwind . In 2010 the ship was sold to Rederij Groen and renamed Furore G at the end of the year . The Rederij Groen used the ship as an offshore support ship.

Use as a rescue ship

In 2015 the ship was sold to Doctors Without Borders Spain (Médicos Sin Fronteras España) in Barcelona . The non-governmental organization used it as Dignity I for the rescue of refugees in the Mediterranean. In 2017, the Sea-Watch association took over the ship and replaced the smaller Sea-Watch 2 . Pia Klemp was also a short-term member of the crew .

In June 2018, the ship was arrested by the Maltese authorities in the port of Valletta because it was allegedly not properly registered under the Dutch flag. Although the proper Dutch registration was already clarified in July, the Sea-Watch 3 was refused to leave Valetta until October for political reasons. In December 2018, Sea-Watch filed a lawsuit against the Maltese Ministry of Transport for arbitrarily preventing Sea-Watch 3 from being freely available .

Legal dispute over port access in Italy

January 2019

Italy had refused to allow the Sea-Watch 3 to enter one of its ports with several rescued people on board, as the closest safe port from the rescue location was in Tunisia. To suit the captain of the Sea Watch and several rescued persons on board who decided European Court of Human Rights in the interim measures ten days after the rescue of 47 people that Italy must provide the persons on board medical and food. The minors must also be provided with legal assistance on board. Actually, the applicants had requested that the migrants be allowed to leave the boat. The court did not comply. A little later it became known from those around the Italian government that representatives of Germany, France, Portugal, Romania and Malta had agreed to accept the persons.

May 2019

In mid-May 2019, the crew of the Sea-Watch 3 rescued 65 people 60 kilometers off the Libyan coast. The Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini pronounced a ban on sailing into Italian territorial waters. A little later, the injured and the families were taken in, 18 people went ashore in a coast guard boat. The ship itself remained outside Italian waters 15 nautical miles from Lampedusa . According to the activists , some of the remaining 47 people then considered suicide if they were not also brought ashore. Finally, on May 18, despite the ban, the crew headed for Italian territorial waters. Humanitarian reasons as well as the psychological condition of the "guests" compel them and they claim their right to call at the next safe haven. The people were brought ashore off Lampedusa by the Italian coastguard and financial police. The ship was confiscated as a precaution. Salvini demanded his decommissioning and sinking. He accused the public prosecutor who ordered the landing of "aiding and abetting illegal immigration to Italy". The interior minister threatened to take action against anyone who did such a thing. On June 1, 2019, the ship was released again by the authorities. Subsequently, the council chairman of the Evangelical Church in Germany , Heinrich Bedford-Strohm , visited the not yet accessible ship to express his support for the crew.

Confiscation 2019

Carola Rackete on the Sea-Watch 3 near Malta

It rescued the Sea Watch 3 with 22 crew members and 2 employees of the NDR , including Nadia Kailouli , on board 53 people from Libya. According to the crew's guest coordinator, there were 38 men, 9 women, 3 unaccompanied minors and 3 children, most of them from the Ivory Coast or Ghana , some from Mali , Guinea , Egypt and Libya. First 10, later another 3 people were brought ashore to Italy, mostly for medical reasons, 40 (32 men, 6 women and 2 unaccompanied young people) stayed on board while the ship remained in waiting position off Lampedusa without permission to enter. Interior Minister Matteo Salvini described the ship as a pirate ship . The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Organization for Migration appealed to European states to take in the rescued. On June 21, Captain Rackete and several nationals from various African countries applied to the European Court of Human Rights for an interim order to force Italy to allow the ship to enter. However, the court rejected the urgent application on June 25, 2019, as provisional measures are only provided if there is an “immediate risk of irreparable damage”. The situation on board the ship currently does not justify any coercion against Italy. Italy was informed that the court was relying on the necessary help from the authorities in relation to "persons in the situation of vulnerability ".

On June 26, 2019, despite the threat of high fines, the ship entered Italian territorial waters because after two weeks on the ship, the migrants “couldn't take it anymore” and “some threatened to jump overboard”. Salvini called on the judiciary to act quickly and said that Italy was not a “landing stage for illegals”. "It is a Dutch ship from a German non-governmental organization that took in migrants off Libya." Nobody understands why Italy and its citizens are responsible for it and should pay for it. The ship was stopped by the coast guard . Several Italian MPs stayed on the ship out of solidarity.

The Archbishop of Turin , Cesare Nosiglia , meanwhile offered that his church could look after the people without burdening the state. In addition, several German cities had agreed to accept. However, this would require the approval of the federal government, the federal government pays around 90% of the cost of accommodation and living costs for the refugees. The mayor of the Sicilian capital Palermo , Leoluca Orlando , made the ship's crew honorary citizens.

On the night of June 29, the captain surprised the security forces with a mooring maneuver in the port of Lampedusa . A state patrol boat tried to prevent this and was pushed against the pier . A Sea-Watch spokesman justified the action with: "It was the last desperate attempt to ensure the safety of the people." However, a political solution for the migrants had already been initiated at the time: Several EU states, including Germany, had agreed to take in those seeking protection. However, Italy's Interior Minister Salvini demanded appropriate guarantees, without which the ship would not have been allowed to land. A few hours after the mooring maneuver, the rescued migrants were allowed to go ashore. The arrested captain faces a fine of up to 50,000 euros for violating the harbor and water closures and between three and ten years in prison for resisting and using violence against a warship. The Interior Minister announced that if she was not convicted, she would be deported for endangering national security.

The house arrest was lifted on July 2nd by an investigating judge in Agrigento. According to the MDR court ruling of the regional court, the judge argued that the obligation to rescue at sea according to international maritime law should be assessed more strongly than the legal regulations in Italy that were changed by Interior Minister Salvini. The captain acted “in the fulfillment of a duty”. The extent of the collision with a boat of the financial police moored on the quay wall was exaggerated in the representation. Rackete was relieved. After the judge was verbally attacked by the media and Salvini, the Italian judges' association ANM accused Salvini of nurturing a climate of hatred and aversion. The UN human rights experts of the UN Human Rights Council condemned the criminalization of sea rescue and the intimidation of the independent Italian judiciary by the media and Salvini on July 18. The judiciary decided according to the established international legal norms on sea rescue. On September 25, 2019, Agrigento's public prosecutor's office lifted the seizure of the ship to preserve evidence. The ship was not allowed to sail because it would have violated the security decrees issued by Salvini. In mid-December, a court in Palermo released the Sea Watch 3 so that it could leave the port of Licata at the end of 2019 and resume sea rescue.


On January 9, 2020, the activists took in three groups of initially 59 and 17 migrants, and on January 10, another 42 people who had previously requested rescue via the alarm phone initiative were added. According to the Maltese military , the people taken on board from Sea Watch 3 and 118 people from the Open Arms are to be taken over by Maltese ships on January 11 and transported to shore. On January 14, Italy assigned the Sea-Watch 3 Taranto as a safe port of disembarkation. The berthing in Taranto took place on January 16, and all 119 rescued people went ashore.

On February 25, the activists picked up 194 migrants from three boats off the Libyan coast and then drove towards Italy. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic , the President of the Sicily Region, Sebastiano Musumeci , called for the migrants on board to be quarantined . The measure was ordered the following day, as on the Ocean Viking , the crew on board and the migrants remain quarantined on land for two weeks each.

In mid-March 2020, the ship was stuck in the shipyard in Messina because spare parts were missing and a crew could not be assembled due to travel restrictions in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic .

On June 7, 2020, the ship left again and on June 17, the activists claimed to have recovered 100 migrants 29 nautical miles from Az-Zawiya . Another 65 were added later that day, followed by 46 the next day. They were apparently part of a larger operation in which Libyan and Tunisian people smugglers sent around 600 people in various boats towards Italy within a few hours. The majority are said to have been intercepted by the Libyan coast guard. The 211 migrants were quarantined on a ferry in Porto Empedocle on June 21 . A migrant who had already shown symptoms when landing was tested positive for the coronavirus by the Italian authorities. They then ordered the activists to be quarantined.

Statements from experts on the law of the sea

Nele Matz-Lück , professor of public law with a focus on maritime law at the University of Kiel , sees a legal gap in the conventions on the law of the sea. The coastal states are not automatically obliged by their sovereignty to let rescued persons ashore, but could instead provide them with medical care on board, for example.

Valentin Schatz from the Chair for International Maritime Law at the University of Hamburg says that Italy should have assigned a port. A repatriation of refugees to Libya would be illegal, so it is understandable to head for the nearest port of Lampedusa. The ship was not designed for a further journey without mooring to the flag state of the Netherlands. "The law is somewhat more on the part of the NGO, but ultimately the international law of the sea does not regulate how this situation is to be resolved".


  • Sea Watch 3 : NDR film documentary, the filmmakers Nadia Kailouli and Jonas Schreijäg accompanied the Sea Watch 3 on its rescue trip in June 2019 for 21 days until Carola Rackete was arrested.
  • Sea-Watch 3. 3-SAT, May 2020

See also

Web links

Individual evidence

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