The new Italian Coast Guard General Commander, Admiral Nicola Carlone | Photo: ANSA
The new Italian Coast Guard General Commander, Admiral Nicola Carlone | Photo: ANSA

The new Italian Coast Guard General Commander, Admiral Nicola Carlone, has emphasized that rescue at sea in the Mediterranean is, and remains, a "stable pillar" of the institution.

Rescue at sea is a "stable pillar" in the actions of the 11,000 men and women of the Italian Coast Guard, said the new Italian Coast Guard General Commander Admiral Nicola Carlone in his speech at his swearing-in ceremony on July 23.

He said saving lives is not up for discussion and never will be, "in the wake of our tradition and in full compliance with international treaties."

In the presence of Italian Defence Minister Lorenzo Guerini and Transport Minister Enrico Giovannini, Carlone said this is a cardinal principle as well as a mission for the men and women of the Italian Coast Guard.

The admiral was nominated last week by the Italian cabinet to replace Giovanni Pettorino, who is retiring due to age limits but also because he was nominated by the government to serve as Special Commissioner for the Central Adriatic Sea Port Authority.

Carlone highlighted how the complexity of the corps -- which in addition to working in search and rescue also handles environmental and fishing protection, maritime and mercantile security, and the patrolling of thousands of kilometres of coastline -- is actually its true "strong point".

900,000 crossed the Mediterranean in 10 years

"A future of commitments and sacrifices awaits us, but it is also a future of opportunities for an efficient and cohesive organisation, which has also grown in numbers, something that hadn't happened for 30 years," Carlone said, referring to 750 new coast guard members on active duty.

Outgoing General Commander Pettorino also spoke about rescue at sea. "Our primary mission is saving lives at sea, always and everywhere," he said.

"In recent years we have taken up enormous amounts of work and responsibility; 900,000 people have crossed the Mediterranean in the past 10 years and we have long been making every effort in professionalism and humanity," Pettorino said.

He said the coast guard never abandoned its commitment to saving lives at sea, "even when we were the only ones coordinating rescues in an area that was double the current one."

He said solutions to the question of migrant flows "must be found on land and not at sea."

"Every time a boat leaves the coasts of North Africa overcrowded with people, it's a defeat for everyone. And no one can think that the solution is only rescue," he said. Coast Guard a "reference point" Ministers Giovannini and Guerini, in their speeches, both called the coast guard a "reference point" for rescue at sea and navigation safety.

"In front of people struggling, the first moral imperative is to save them; this is indisputable, full stop," Giovannini said.

He reiterated the importance of Coast Guard port authorities as "a reference of safety, a certainty of legality, and a guarantee of trustworthiness for the entire country."

Guerini expressed "recognition" on behalf of the government for "the work that you carry out in service to the country: continue to work for the good of the people."


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