In a report to the Maltese authorities, the Dutch government confirms the correct registration of the civilian search and rescue vessel Sea-Watch 3. Nevertheless, the Maltese government keeps the ship blocked in port for almost one month already, playing for time with flimsy arguments, while again many distress cases occurred and no suitable rescue assets were in place the last days. Sea-Watch urges the Maltese government to stop its blockade of Mediterranean rescue efforts, putting human lives at risk.
“The detainment of our ship for random ‘investigations’ without any indication of wrongdoing was a farce from the very beginning. We are still blocked from leaving port, although Dutch inspectors requested by Malta have confirmed the accuracy of our registration. This is clearly not about paperwork, it’s a political campaign against the civil sea rescue fleet. From today on, Maltese authorities will have to take full responsibility for every dead person, that could have been saved but wasn’t,” says Johannes Bayer, Chairman of Sea-Watch.
The Sea-Watch 3 has been denied to leave the harbour since July 02., 2018, when Malta had launched investigations against the Captain of another dutch-flagged rescue ship, the M/S Lifeline, due to potential issues with the Lifeline’s registration. “This is a collective punishment, just as if the port of Hamburg would retain all container ships, only because one might or might not have an issue with its papers,” says Bayer.
“The investigation shows that all the requirements for a registration as a pleasure craft in the flag register of the Netherlands are in order,” is written in the letter that the Dutch government wrote to the Maltese. The ship is registered as a non-commercial motor yacht (pleasure craft) as this is the most suitable registration for the ship in common understanding of Sea-Watch e.V. and the Dutch government, there is no ship class and no general regulations in place for Search and Rescue vessels. Still the ship holds a class certificate and is fully entitled with the dutch flag.
Nevertheless, Sea-Watch received a letter from the Maltese [Authority], denying its request to leave the harbour, as they claim to require further clarification by the Dutch authorities on certain aspects. “How can it be that our ship is still blocked in Malta? even if the seafarer nation of the Netherlands that checked the registration and safety standards on the ship for nearly a month with senior experts, came to the conclusion that everything is in order with our ship?” says Pia Klemp, captain of the Sea-Watch 3. “Instead of investigating proper registered ships, the focus of law enforcement should be on various human rights violations happening these days under European supervision, such as the pushback carried out by the Asso Ventotto on the 30th of July.”