Operation Mare Nostrum

Operation Mare Nostrum (after the ancient Roman name for the Mediterranean: "Our Sea") was a year-long naval and air operation commenced by the Italian government on October 18, 2013 to tackle the increased immigration to Europe during the second half of 2013 and migratory ship wreckages off Lampedusa.[1] During the operation at least 150,000 migrants, mainly from Africa and the Middle East, arrived safely to Europe.[2] The operation ended on 31 October 2014[3] and was superseded by Frontex's Operation Triton.


Fenice (F 557) is one of the eight corvettes of Minerva class with the role of surveillance of fisheries; from November 2013 it took part in the Operation Mare Nostrum rescuing the boats of illegal immigrants coming from North Africa.

The European Commission provided financial support for the operation with 1.8 million from the External Borders Fund.[4] Mare Nostrum was operated by the Italian Navy and saw ships operating near the coast of Libya.[5]

The operation's search and rescue component is claimed by advocacy groups like the European Council on Refugees and Exiles to have saved thousands of lives, but the operation was politically unpopular and extremely costly for just one EU state.[6] The Italian government had requested additional funds in order to continue the operation, from the other EU member states, but they did not offer the requested support.[7]

The operation ended on 31 October 2014[3] and was superseded by Frontex's Operation Triton, which operates a smaller search and rescue capability. Unlike Mare Nostrum, Operation Triton focused on border protection rather than search and rescue, and operates closer to the Italian coast[5] The termination of Mare Nostrum has been criticized as a cause of the increased death rate among migrants to Europe in the Mediterranean, which increased tenfold between 2014 and 2015.[8] Two major migrant shipwreck disasters which together killed more than 1000 people within the span of a week in April 2015 led to calls to renew the operation.[9] [5][10]

Deployed assets

The operation involved the units of the Italian Navy and Italian Air Force. The navy units deployed consisted of:

The air units involved helicopters, one MM P180 aircraft equipped with FLIR, two Camcopter S-100 unmanned aerial vehicles on board San Giusto ship and two maritime patrol aircraft.[1] There was also one forward logistic site in Lampedusa for logistics support.[1] According to Italian Interior Minister Angelino Alfano, the government spent about €114 million ($142 million) on Operation Mare Nostrum.[3]

Foreign contributions

Slovenia was the sole external contributor to the operation.[11] It provided its patrol vessel Triglav, which assisted in general surveillance of the waters surrounding Lampedusa from December 15th, 2013 to the end of January the following year.[12]

See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 "Mare Nostrum Operation". Ministry of Defence of Italy. Retrieved 16 April 2015.
  2. "IOM Applauds Italy's Life-Saving Mare Nostrum Operation: "Not a Migrant Pull Factor"". International Organization for Migration. 31 October 2014. Retrieved 16 April 2015.
  3. 1 2 3 Ella Ide (31 October 2014). "Italy ignores pleas, ends boat migrant rescue operation". Yahoo! News. Retrieved 16 April 2015.
  4. "Frontex Joint Operation 'Triton' – Concerted efforts to manage migration in the Central Mediterranean". European Commission. 7 October 2014. Retrieved 16 April 2015.
  5. 1 2 3 Bodger, Julian (15 April 2015). "EU under pressure over migrant rescue operations in the Mediterranean". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 April 2015.
  6. "Italy in talks with EU to share responsibility for boat migrants". Reuters. 8 Jul 2014.
  7. "Italy Is About to Shut Down the Sea Rescue Operation That Saved More Than 90,000 Migrants This Year". VICE News. Retrieved 19 April 2015.
  8. "The worst yet?". The Economist. 19 April 2015. Retrieved 19 April 2015.
  9. Kingsley, Patrick (15 April 2015). "Migrants can't be left to die in the seas of Europe". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 April 2015.
  10. Kingsley, Patrick; Bonomolo, Alessandra; Kirchgaessner, Stephanie (19 April 2015). "700 migrants feared dead in Mediterranean shipwreck". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 April 2015.
  11. Moloney, Liam. "Migrant Aid Groups Criticize End to Italy's Sea Rescue Operation". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2015-09-14.
  12. "Triglav Ship nearing end of mission :: Prvi interaktivni multimedijski portal, MMC RTV Slovenija". www.rtvslo.si. Retrieved 2015-09-14.
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