Current mission

Moonbird & Seabird

Civil aerial reconnaissance mission at the deadliest border in the world

Sea-Watch is not only operative on the water for sea rescue, but also in the air. With our two search planes we can cover a large sea area to find boats in distress at sea and report them to the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centres (MRCCs) and rescue ships. On the one hand, we assist the civilian fleet in rescue operations and close a gap in civilian sea rescue. On the other hand, the documentation of human rights violations, mostly illegal pull backs by the so-called Libyan Coast Guard, or of cases of non-assistance at sea is an ever-increasing task. This is because state ships are not on the scene and civilian rescue ships are repeatedly blocked and prevented from doing their work.

Ain’t no border high enough

Our aircraft


Together with the Swiss Humanitarian Pilot Initiative (HPI) Sea-Watch has been operating Moonbird, a civilian search aircraft of the type Cirrus SR22, since spring 2017. The propeller aircraft can take a crew of 3 – 4 persons on board and cover an area of about 16,000 km2, which is about half of the area of Belgium. Such a mission takes about 6 hours, of which up to 5 hours can be spent in the operational area off the coast of Libya.


Since spring 2020, we have also have our Seabird, a twin-engined high-performance Beechcraft Baron 58 aircraft, which enables us to fly with up to 5 crew members. The sea area that we can cover during a mission with Seabird is almost twice as large as that of Moonbird: about 27,000 km2. In addition, we can be in the area of operation for about 7.5 hours with her.

1,000 deaths in the Mediterranean prevented in the first year of operation alone: The civilian eye over the Mediterranean

Since 2017, hundreds of boats in distress have been found by the aircraft crew, some of them so badly damaged that people were already in the water. In 2017 alone, Moonbird’s first year of operation, thanks to the aerial search, we were able to assist in rescuing 1,000 people who would otherwise most likely not have been found and would have drowned.

Partners and supporters

We would like to thank all our supporters who made our joint efforts with HPI possible. Special thanks go to the Evangelical Church of Germany (EKD), without their generous support the Sea-Watch aircraft operation would probably never have been realized. Already in 2017, they supported us with 100,000 Euro for the purchase of Moonbird. At the beginning of 2018, Sea-Watch received a generous grant from the EKD for the years 2018 to 2020, thus securing the essential costs of the project. Here you can find more information.

We would also like to thank the Vartan Group, which financed the maintenance of the Moonbird in 2018 and 2019. Also our future missions will be funded exclusively by donations – with your supporting membership we can give our all with the two search planes so that people do not drown unnoticed in the Mediterranean Sea, but have a chance to be rescued in time.