Italian authorities finally lift detention after 3 months
After a three-month detention of the alliance ship SEA-EYE 4, the inspectors of the Italian coast guard released the SEA-EYE 4 from the so-called administrative detention on Wednesday evening, August 18, 2021.
The ship had saved a total of 408 lives, including 150 children, during its first mission in May and was subsequently detained in Palermo. As with other detentions of German rescue ships, the Italian authorities placed excessive requirements on the ship, found fault with the ship’s certification and declared its sewage and waste disposal capacities insufficient. In the meantime, the European Court of Justice is dealing with the question of whether the detentions are lawful. Sea-Eye, like the German authorities, assumes that the detentions are unlawful. However, it may take more than a year unless the ECJ issues a judgement.
Therefore, Sea-Eye decided not to tie up resources in another lawsuit and – in coordination with the German authorities – to voluntarily comply with the requested adjustments in order to continue saving lives as soon as possible. For weeks, Sea-Eye’s nautical officers, engineers and crew members worked closely with the responsible flag state authority Ship Safety Department of BG Verkehr in Hamburg to work out solutions for more than 20 exaggerated requirements.
“The commitment of the officials from Hamburg was essential for the release of the SEA-EYE 4. Otherwise, we would simply have remained at the mercy of Italy and would have had to sue again. We are therefore very grateful towards the Ship Safety Department of BG Verkehr!”, says Gorden Isler, Chairman of Sea-Eye e. V.
Now, the SEA-EYE 4 will be prepared for its second rescue mission immediately. Sea-Eye and United4Rescue intend to send their second civil alliance ship on its second mission without further delay.
“We very much hope that the SEA-EYE 4 can be deployed on a regular basis now. It cannot be the case that Rome comes up with new complaints for every inspection in order to keep the rescue ships from sailing, again and again. This simply costs human lives and has to stop”, says Michael Schwickart, Vice Chairman of the alliance for civilian sea rescue United4Rescue.
Together with its operational partners German Doctors and Refugee Rescue, Sea-Eye plans to return to carrying out search and rescue operations before the end of August.
“Of course we will continue to support the SEA-EYE 4 on its second mission with our medical expertise in the ship’s sick bay. For us, it is a human imperative to save and care for people who are fleeing. Nobody in distress should be left at sea “, said Dr. Christine Winkelmann, executive director of German Doctors.
Most recently, the policy of detaining rescue ships forced Sea-Eye to cease operations with the ALAN KURDI and hand the ship over to the Italian organization ResQ. Under the name RESQ PEOPLE, the Italians saved 166 lives last week. Sea-Eye was able to finance the high costs of the SEA-EYE 4’s detention with their campaign “A Gift For Horst”. The campaign – supported by Klaas Heufer-Umlauf, Joko Winterscheidt, Sophie Passmann, Ruth Moschner and Jan Delay – had around 8,000 people donate over €260,000. Sea-Eye received a further donation of €50,000 for the upcoming mission from the German Postcode Lottery, which uses a large part of its revenue for charitable and benevolent purposes.
“This broad support clearly shows how many people are standing up against the European policy of isolation and letting people drown. We are becoming more and more in numbers, we are becoming louder and we are definitely not giving up!”, Isler continues.