Gibraltar government rescinds Aquarius registration

FILE PHOTO: Migrants on a rubber boat are rescued by the SOS Mediterranee organisation during a search and rescue (SAR) operation with the MV Aquarius rescue ship (background) in the Mediterranean Sea, off the Libyan Coast, September 14, 2017. REUTERS/Tony Gentile/File Photo

The Government of Gibraltar has abruptly decided to rescind the registration of the MV Aquarius rescue ship because it was registered as a vessel used for surveillance and not for rescue operations. A notification was sent on the 6th August.

According to Sky News, the registration will be cancelled officially on the 20th August. Once this is done, the registration will fall into the hands of Germany, since the owner of the ship is German.

The announcement was issued after Italy asked the United Kingdom to take the 141 immigrants from two separate rescue operations in the Mediterranean Sea on Friday on board the vessel, since it sails under the flag of Gibraltar (Gibraltar is a British Overseas Territory located at the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula).

On its part, SOS Mediterranee argued that Aquarius has met Gibraltar’s regulatory applications for the last two years, and there have never been any reported cases of infringement or anomalies.

It claimed that the Aquarius was involved in over 200 rescues and has always been transparent in its work, while keeping the competent authorities informed of what it was doing.

SOS Mediterranee argued that the distinction made by the Government of Gibraltar between surveillance and rescue vessels was unfounded. It also pointed out that the Gibraltar Maritime Authority had registered the Aquarius as a rescue ship working with the International Maritime Organisation.

It ended by saying that there is room for open, transparent and fair discussion with the Gibraltar authorities.