The Sea-Watch 3 was cleared to leave Malta after 3 month of unlawful detention to undergo repairs and refits in a Spanish shipyard and left Valetta port this morning, 7 am local time. Meanwhile the deathrate on the central mediterranean is at record high.
The Dutch-flagged, 50-meter rescue vessel Sea-Watch 3 had been blocked from leaving the Grand Harbour of Malta since 02. July 2018, along with other civil rescue ships by the Maltese government. Malta had launched investigations into the registration of MS Lifeline, following a standoff about the disembarkation of more than 200 rescued migrants from the ship and detained all other Dutch-flagged rescue ships based on the island the same day, without legal grounds.
Despite a report by the Netherlands, which cleared the Sea-Watch 3 of all accusations and doubts regarding its registration, equipment and capability, Malta held the ship for almost two more months without justification. “It is about time, the Maltese authorities released our ship”, says Johannes Bayer, chairman of Sea-Watch. “More than 500 people have drowned in the Mediterranean Sea, since our ship has been detained – probably many more of whom nobody knows, since no one was there, at the world’s deadliest border, to report their fate.”
The Sea-Watch 3 is now bound for Spain to undergo regular maintenance and to be refitted for its upcoming tasks. “The Sea-Watch 3 is currently the biggest and best equipped civilian rescue asset in the Central Mediterranean Sea”, says Captain Pia Klemp of Sea-Watch. “We’re more than relieved that it was finally freed from this political charade”