Current Mission

Sea-Watch 3

The previous ship, the Sea-Watch 2, was no longer up to our changing requirements at sea. On many missions, the crew and the rescued reached the limit of their capacity. In order not to endanger the safety of our crews and the rescued, we have decided to deploy a larger and more flexible rescue ship.

The Sea-Watch 3, 55m long and more fail-safe, guarantees faster, safer and more efficient help in the event of a boat accident. Above all, however, this will enable us to adequately care for significantly more people.

From November 2017 to January 2018, the Sea-Watch 3 alone was involved in rescuing approximately 1,500 people.

Search for boats in distress

The Sea-Watch 3 patrols the Libyan 24 nautical mile zone and actively searches for boats in distress. From Malta we set sail with our mostly volunteer crew. As soon as we have reached the search area, we start following a search pattern. The search is carried out using radar, binoculars and other technical aids such as specially developed extremely high-resolution camera systems.

Especially in the winter months our commitment is vital. Smaller rescue ships will then no longer be able to operate safely in rough seas off the Libyan coast.

Often we are also informed by the responsible MRCC (Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre) in Rome or by reconnaissance aircraft (e.g. by the Moonbird) of the positions of boats in distress at sea. We then drive as quickly as possible to the reported positions and search there for the boat in distress. If we find a boat, we will immediately initiate the necessary rescue measures.

Rescue of refugees

As soon as a boat is found, we provide help. First we put our speedboats on the water and drive to the escape boats. The inflatables and wooden boats are too unstable to be approached directly by the large ship. In addition, any panic must be prevented. A well-rehearsed rescue system ensures maximum safety for people in distress at sea and for our crew. When we reach the getaway boat, we first use life jackets and mountains to protect people from medical emergencies, infants and pregnant women and bring them to Sea-Watch 3, where a translator explains the procedure to the people and calms the situation throughout.

When people are already in the water, large rescue hoses are lowered into the water, where people can hold on. In addition, lifebelts and vests are thrown into the water to give people a short stop. Our two speedboats then rescue all persons already in the water and secure the escape boat at the same time, so that no more people fall into the water.

On board the Sea-Watch 3 our medical crew takes care of the guests: First, the mostly highly dehydrated saved drinking water is distributed. After that, the view is held specifically after emergencies. Untreated wounds and fractures (often caused by torture from Libya), dehydration and severe burns (caused by petrol and salt water) must be treated most frequently by our doctors and emergency paramedics.

In consultation with the MRCC Rome, we pass the people we rescue on to partner organisations or the Italian coast watch for them to be brought to a safe harbour. Only when the MRCC Rome explicitly requests us to do so will we take the voyage to a safe harbour.


Our changing crews consist of navigators, physicians and mechanics. During an operation you take over all tasks on board.

In addition, we always take journalists with us on the mission to document the situation on site and make it accessible to the public. But dozens of volunteers also work on land and during shipyard hours for a more humane treatment of people on the run.

Nearly 500 committed people from all over the world have actively participated in Sea-Watch’s work to date.