Our mission

Rescue at sea requires a robust ship suitable for the high seas.

On 26.02.2016, SOS MEDITERRANEE began its mission on the world´s deadliest maritime route – between Libya and Italy – to save people from distress at sea. Across 250 rescue missions, 29,523 men, women and children were welcomed and cared for aboard the rescue ship Aquarius.

Since the beginning of our mission, we have repeatedly directed the attention of civil society, the media and politicians to the testimonies of survivors who fled appalling conditions in Libya. During our two-and-a-half-year mission more than 170 international journalists came aboard the ship. Hundreds of articles, portraits, reports and documentaries were produced, giving a face to the people – rescued and rescuers alike – and bearing witness to the situation in the Mediterranean.

In recent months, SOS MEDITERRANEE and our life-saving work has been increasingly targeted by political attacks; most recently the Italian authorities demanded to preventively seize the Aquarius. In December 2018, SOS MEDITERRANEE therefore decided to end the Aquarius’ charter, to be able to resume operations at sea as soon as possible with another ship (more information here).

Our mission to save lives and report on the humanitarian tragedy at Europe’s borders has not changed! We are working hard to find a suitable ship. We will not look away. We will continue to document the situation in the Mediterranean Sea and are actively committed to standing up for and demanding professional sea rescue. For this, we rely on your support.

Length 77 m/Width 11.8 m/Draught 5.6 m

Nautical and Technical Crew of 10 + Search and Rescue and Medical Crew

Rescue capacity
200 – 550 people

Costs per day
11.000 €


SOS MEDITERRANEE coordinates all search and rescue operations with the relevant maritime authorities and with other actors potentially able to render assistance to boats in distress on-scene (ships and maritime aircrafts), always keeping maritime authorities informed of ongoing developments. Maritime rescue coordination centres are the ones responsible for determining who we cooperate with during our rescue operations, if and when we transfer rescued people from other ships, and in which port we disembark them. In 2017, the Italian Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (IMRCC) started transferring the responsibility for the coordination of search and rescue efforts in international waters to the Libyan coastguard. In June 2018, a Libyan search and rescue zone appeared in the International Maritime Organization register, along with a Libyan Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (JRCC). Since 2018 SOS MEDITERRANEE has been experiencing a lack of coordination and information-sharing from maritime authorities (see https://onboard-aquarius.org/).

SOS MEDITERRANEE is supported by European civil society. The operations are funded through private donations.