3 months of detention of the Ocean Viking: SAR team members share their thoughts

Three months ago, our Search and Rescue team learned that our ship, the Ocean Viking, had been detained by Italian authorities in Sicily following one of the most difficult missions ever carried out by the SOS MEDITERRANEE teams.  

Today they should be doing their job onboard the ship, at sea, trying to save lives. But they are prevented from doing so. In a few words, they try to tell us how they feel. 

Hassan, SOS MEDITERRANEE Rescuer – currently carrying out maintenance work onboard the Ocean Viking

“New shipwrecks are regularly reported while authorities are hindering us from doing our duty at sea. Women, children and men are trying to escape from what they describe as hell on Earth and we let them disappear like nothing happened. A new generation needs to stand in humanity and say ‘Not in my name’.”

Julia, SOS MEDITERRANEE Communications Officer  – currently based in Germany

“A humane Search and Rescue system in the Central Mediterranean is not a pipe dream, but the political will to achieve it is lacking. Citizens have taken it upon themselves to fill this deadly gap. With the Ocean Viking in detention, it feels like our hands are tied, we can’t carry out our mission to uphold the most basic law of the sea: To save the lives of those in distress.”

Leo, SOS MEDITERRANEE Rescuer – currently based in England

“It’s extremely difficult knowing that we have the equipment, teams and capabilities to provide assistance but are blocked from doing so.”

Luisa, SOS MEDITERRANEE Search and Rescue coordinator – currently based in Italy

“I feel helpless and frustrated in this situation where our ship has been stuck in port due to administrative detention since 22 July.

I can do nothing to try to save the life of those who have no choice but to risk their life crossing the Mediterranean in totally unsafe conditions.

We need ships that carry out search and rescue activities.

People continue to die at sea, you can’t turn your back on it and pretend nothing has happened.”


Cover photo: Anthony Jean / SOS MEDITERRANEE