Vox Populi: Captain Pia Klemp and the flotilla of ships she commands have saved over 14,000 people in distress at sea. These rescues occurred in Mediterranean international waters, but today Captain Klemp and nine crew members of her ship the Iuventa have been charged with a felony for “aiding and abetting illegal immigration to Italy” and are facing up to 20 years in prison.


Pia Klemp (born 1983) is a ship captain, animal and human rights activist and author from Germany, who, between 2011 and 2017, worked for the Sea Shepherd organization to participate in many international operations to protect sea animals. Between 2016 and 2018 she commanded two rescue ships in the Mediterranean Sea for the German NGOs Jugend Rettet and Sea-Watch during the ongoing European migrant crisis. Her ships rescued over 14,000 migrants from drowning. Klemp was personally responsible for the rescue of more than a thousand of them. One of her ships, the Iuventa, was seized by Italian authorities in 2017, who accuse her of cooperating with human traffickers, and claim many of those saved were at no imminent risk of death. If convicted, she faces 20 years in prison. Her newer ship, the Sea-Watch 3 was blocked by Maltese authorities for several months in 2018.

Klemp is author of the novels Allmende und Schrebergarten (Commons and allotment) and Lass uns mit den Toten tanzen (Let us dance with the dead).