Italy's interior ministry says more than 400 migrants have arrived in the country over the last two weeks aboard smaller vessels, while the Sea-Watch has zig-zagged on the high seas without a safe port.
After waiting in global waters for an invitation from Italy or an European Union state to accept the ship, captain Carola Rackete decided this week to sail for the southern Italian island of Lampedusa but was blocked by Italian government vessels.
The German captain of Sea-Watch 3, Carola Rackete, was arrested immediately the ship docked in the early hours of Saturday morning.
"The need which we have on board is psychological".
"Even though in the afternoon the prosecution has opened an investigation against me, at the same time they notified us that they will not help to bring the rescued off the ship", Rackete said in a video recorded before the ship was docked.
Sea-Watch is a non-profit organization that conducts civil search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean Sea.
"When I realized it, I felt a moral obligation to help those who did not have the same opportunities as me".
"I have strong trust in the jurisdiction of the Italian state", Rackete said when asked if she was afraid of the consequences of her behaviour.
Rackete called the situation "incredibly tense" on Friday saying the migrants were finding the uncertainty "difficult. psychologically".
The Sea-Watch 3 and its captain, Carola Rackete, was the first humanitarian rescue boat to directly challenge Italy's decision a year ago to close its ports to ships carrying migrants rescued in the Mediterranean.
Protests have taken place in Rome to express solidarity with the Sea-Watch 3 vessel.
Her actions have gained her a following on social media, with memes of the Walt Whitman poem: 'O Captain! Green Party leader Robert Habeck said Rackete's arrest shows the nefariousness of the Italian government, adding in comments to the RND group of local newspapers that the "real scandal is the drownings that occur in the Mediterranean, the lack of legal escape routes and a lack of a distribution system in Europe".
France's interior minister, Christophe Castaner, said in a statement that the French authorities would take in 10 of the migrants. "Mister Salvini might just get in line".
Leaked tapes of her radio calls pointedly disregarding orders from Italian port officials have presumably been meant to shore up Italy's case against her for not only disobeying authorities but also for flouting a government decree passed this month denying entry to Italian territorial waters on public order grounds that could see Sea-Watch slapped with a fine of up to 50,000 euros ($56,400).
Carola Rackete, the 31-year-old Sea-Watch 3 captain, was escorted off the ship by police and taken away for questioning.
After 17 days at sea, the migrants hugged the crew and kissed the dock upon arrival on the island, which is closer to northern Africa than to the Italian mainland. And earlier this month, it adopted a decree that could see ships docking without authorization facing fines of up to $57,000.