Current mission

Sea-Watch 4

The new Alliance ship in the Central Mediterranean

At the end of January 2020, Sea-Watch and the coalition United4Rescue, led by the Protestant Church in Germany, were able to purchase the former research vessel “Poseidon”, which was renamed Sea-Watch 4. The purchase was made possible thanks to many organisations and individuals who support the coalition project #WirSchickenEinSchiff (#WeAreSendingAShip) and donated to the purchase of the ship.

Operational advantages of Sea-Watch 4

The size of the ship allows a larger number of crew members to be deployed. By creating new positions on board, Sea-Watch 4 is well prepared to face new as well as old challenges and can guarantee the best possible safety for guests and crew on board. In addition to a safe space for women and a multifunctional room, the infirmary has also been expanded. Before the conversion, the infirmary was only designed for the care of the crew. Now it is also equipped to provide medical treatment for our guests on board.

Saving lives at sea – Sea-Watch and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) join forces on Sea-Watch 4

In August 2020, we were able to win another strong partner for our coalition ship, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). MSF will be responsible for emergency medical care on board Sea-Watch 4 until at least the end of 2020, including the management of the ship’s hospital. Its four-member medical team will be complemented by two communication staff and two staff for the needs of particularly vulnerable people. Sea-Watch’s 21-strong crew is responsible for the operation of the ship and for rescue operations. Together, the two organisations provide humanitarian aid where Europe’s closure policy has created a human rights-free space.

First rescue mission

On 15 August 2020, the Sea-Watch 4 left the port of Burriana, Spain, for her first mission. Our mission leader Philipp Hahn emphasises the motivation behind the mission: “Sea-Watch 4 and the broad alliance behind it are civil society’s clear response to the EU’s racist policy of letting people drown so that they do not reach European mainland.” In its first mission, Sea-Watch 4 rescued over 350 people from distress at sea and brought them to a safe haven.

The deployment of Sea-Watch 4, which is now working alongside Sea-Watch 3 to ensure that no more people have to drown while fleeing in search of a better life, is very costly. In addition to the numerous rebuilding works, new RHIBs (speedboats and rescue boats) and material for rescue operations, additional permanent staff on Sea-Watch 4 was necessary to support our volunteers. In order to be able to carry out missions with both ships to ensure that no one has to drown while fleeing torture, poverty and death, we are therefore still dependent on your support!

Because a human life is priceless – sea rescue is not.

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 4 the 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.