Saving Lives is Our Only Concern

Over 165,000 migrants reached Italian shores in 2014.

Interview with Admiral Pettorino, Italian Coast Guard: “Saving Lives is Our Only Concern”

By Flavio Di Giacomo

For the men working in the Control Centre of the Coast Guard in Rome, there is no difference between night and day. In this high-tech room there are no windows – only rows of computers and screens displaying maps of the Mediterranean Sea (and the world) and the positions of military and commercial ships. This room controls the Coast Guard’s rescue operations at sea – hour by hour, without any interruption.

“When we work here, we have only one mission in mind: to save lives and not to miss any emergency call,” says Rear Admiral Giovanni Pettorino, Chief of Operations at the Italian Harbourmaster Corps (Coast Guard) in Rome. “We are dealing with a huge phenomenon: more than 165,000 migrants reached the Italian shores this year – almost three times more than last year when arrivals were 42,925. And this is something that we predict is going to continue. We have never seen so many arrivals.”

The Italian Coast Guard is a Corps whose tasks and functions mainly relate to the civilian use of the sea. For most of its functions, it is governed by the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport. But it also operates on behalf of other ministries, such as the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Defence. “Search and rescue” at sea is its primary responsibility. And the Control Centre operates as the National Coordination Centre for all maritime rescue operations.

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