SOS Humanity takes on rescue ship Sea-Watch 4

Humanity 1 / Sea-Watch 4 | SOS Humanity
Fabian Melber

As of 4 August 2022, the German search and rescue organisation SOS Humanity will operate the current rescue ship Sea-Watch 4 as Humanity 1 in the Mediterranean Sea. The ship was acquired two years ago by the United4Rescue alliance. Since then, German organisation Sea-Watch has been operating the ship in the central Mediterranean.

“The transfer of the Sea-Watch 4 is solidarity in action. It enables SOS Humanity to start operations as quickly as possible. And every further rescue operation is a sign of solidarity with people in flight, while the EU has long since said goodbye to rescue efforts,” said Johannes Bayer, CEO of Sea-Watch. “Sea-Watch 4 is a symbol of civil society commitment which has touched many people and saved almost 1,700 lives. It is incredibly important to us that the success story of the ship is continued not only in the Mediterranean, but also as the ship of the alliance United4Rescue,” Bayer stated.

SOS Humanity operated as part of the SOS Mediterranee network from 2015 to 2021, most recently with the rescue ship Ocean Viking. Since 2022, the NGO, operating under a new name, has been looking for its own ship.

“Especially today on Europe Day, we would like to point to our responsibility to actively support all people who have to flee war and persecution – including those who flee across the Mediterranean Sea.” Executive Director of SOS Humanity, Maike Röttger, further emphasised, “Strong alliances like ours are urgently needed to rescue people in flight from distress at sea. Particularly, since the EU states have not been able to agree on a search and rescue program. We thank Sea-Watch for transferring their ship to us. We look forward to operating the future ‘Humanity 1’ with continued support from United4Rescue.”

The Sea-Watch 4 is a former German research vessel that was purchased two years ago on the initiative of the civil society alliance United4Rescue. It was subsequently converted into a rescue ship and operated by the rescue organisation Sea-Watch. The supporting crowdfunding campaign, run under the slogan “We’re sending a ship” was initiated by the German Protestant church. Today, the alliance includes more than 830 institutions, associations, companies and initiatives and extends far beyond ecclesiastical boundaries in Germany.

Since its launch in August 2020, the ship has been involved in five missions, rescuing almost 1,700 people. In between, the Sea-Watch 4 was detained for months by Italian authorities on political grounds. Only last week, the crew of the ship successfully rescued and recovered people from distress at sea.

“We are very happy that our alliance ship will continue to operate as ‘Humanity 1’. With SOS Humanity, a strong partner comes aboard the ship,” says Thies Gundlach, Chairman of United4Rescue. “Even in times of the brutal Russian invasion of Ukraine and an ongoing war, we must not forget the need in the Mediterranean Sea. As long as EU countries let people drown at their external maritime borders, it is our humanitarian duty to help. This is what United4Rescue stands for as a broad civil society coalition and with this alliance ship.”

According to the International Organisation for Migration, this year more than 640 people have already drowned in the Mediterranean Sea while fleeing. In 2021, more than 2,000 children, women and men lost their lives.

Press contacts:

Oliver Kulikowski, Spokesperson Sea-Watch,, +49 (0)1575 8090674.
Petra Krischok, Spokesperson SOS Humanity,, +49 (0)176 552 506 54
Susanne Jacoby, Press contact United4Rescue,, +49 (0)151 501 26 724

You can find visuals of the Sea-Watch 4 in our handout:

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SOS Humanity e.V.
Postbox 440352
D-12003 Berlin
Phone +49 (0) 30 2352 5682


SOS Humanity e.V.

IBAN: DE 0410 0500 0001 9041 8451