Keywords: search and rescue; SOLAS Convention; MARPOL Convention; safety at sea; NGOs; ves- sels classification.
In its Recommendation on cooperation among Member States concerning operations carried out by vessels owned or operated by private entities for the purpose of search and rescue activities, the European commission underlines that it is a matter of public policy that these vessels be suitably registered and properly equipped to meet the relevant safety and health requirements associated with SAR activities. Indeed, since 2020, almost all vessels operated by search and rescue NGOs in the Mediterranean Sea have been inspected and detained by Italian Authorities in accordance with the provisions of Paris Memorandum on Port State Control and European Directive 2009/16. This paper addresses de issue of the legitimacy of these inspections and subsequent ship detentions in the light of applicable European and international law. On the outcome of a deep analysis of the rules concerning vessels classification and statutory certification we conclude that international law does not provide specific requirements for private vessels engaged in SAR activities