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LIFE LINE The Newsletter of the International Maritime Rescue Federation (IMRF)






In this issue: • CEO Recruitment • IMRF Mass Rescue Conference and Subject Matter Expert Course • Out of the Fire into the Frying-pan? • Managing Traumatic Stress • ….. and so much more!

The IMRF Is Recruiting a New Chief ExecutiveApplications Now Being Accepted Chief Executive - Applications Now Being Accepted In December’s edition of LIFE LINE we announced that our current CEO, Bruce Reid, is moving on to new adventures later this year. We are very sorry to see him go and extend our heartfelt thanks for all he has done to move the IMRF forward over the last four years. Bruce has been instrumental in helping us to grow our membership, income and profile. He leaves the IMRF with much better operational systems and part of his legacy will be the strong team that has been created. In order to take the IMRF to the next level we are now looking for individuals who can: • combine strategic and operational delivery • influence a diverse group of stakeholders • grow and diversify income • extend our influence even further to affect policy through strong advocacy. We are now accepting applications with a view to making an appointment in early April. If you think that you have what it takes to carry on the exceptional work that Bruce has achieved then please do not hesitate to apply. Further details can be found on page 11. The International Maritime Rescue Federation is a registered company limited by guarantee in the United Kingdom and registered as a charity in England & Wales - Patron: Efthimios E. Mitropoulos KCMG, IMO Secretary General Emeritus - Registered office: IMRF - West Quay Road - Poole - BH15 1HZ - United Kingdom • Company Registration Number: 4852596 •

Charity Registration Number: 1100883 -

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In this edition we take a look at managing traumatic stress. As David Jardine-Smith points out on page 4 SAR people know about stress but do we really know how to deal with it or what to do when the moment comes when we realise that we are not coping?

A New Year message from the IMRF Chair 3 Managing Traumatic Stress 4 SAR Points of Contact 5 Talking SAR in the Baltic 6 MRO: Learning from Experience 6 IMRF's first MRO Subject Matter Expert Course 7 Unity of Effort 8 Out of the Fire and into the Frying-Pan 9 Focus on Events 10 IMO Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea 11 SAR Stories: The Good -The Bad-The Brave 12

Saving a life is always cause for celebration, in fact in SAR we are sometimes too reserved with an ‘all in a day’s work’ attitude. However, when it comes to the flip side of the coin it is so hard to not let it play on your mind. 'Did we miss something...should we have done things differently?' The ‘what ifs’ take control and it is easy to get lost in selfdoubt even though you did your best and that is all you can do. When we are faced with traumatic events we deal with them head on and for experienced personnel it is almost automatic but sometimes the trauma really comes in the aftermath of those events. It is actually far easier to stem the flow of blood from a wound than it is to forget the smell, the screams and the feeling of blood pulsing under the bandage. Mental health can affect anyone, at any time, but those in the search and rescue community, as in all emergency services are exposed to trauma on a daily basis. Those taking the initial call may not be involved physically but the impact can be the same and the hardest thing of all to do is admit that you are not okay, mental health issues like post-traumatic stress and depression thrive on silence, they love the deep dark corners of your mind where they can fester and grow. Mind, a charity in the UK, offer a support program for all emergency services and they did a study into mental health within the emergency services: Our independent research shows that members of the emergency services are even more at risk of experiencing a mental health problem than the general population, but are less likely to seek support. For more information on Mind's Blue Light Campaign go to bluelight/ Here at the IMRF we agree that it is good to talk! The more you talk, the more you realise that you are not alone and that is why we want to hear from you all. Mental health and traumatic stress are topics that we are going to look at in more depth over the coming months, the conversation has only just been started… Tell me your story at

Dates for the Diary

IMO's Sub-Committee on Navigation, Communications and SAR (NCSR) 6-10 March 2017, London, United Kingdom. IMRF Future Technology Panel 28 & 29 March 2017 (TBC), The Netherlands. Singapore Maritime Week (SMW) 2017 23-28 April 2017 Singapore. PACSAR Meeting and Workshops 22-26 May 2017, Auckland, New Zealand. 6th Australian and New Zealand Disaster and Emergency Management Conference 22 & 23 May 2017, Jupiters Gold Coast, QLD, Australia. Maritime Search & Rescue 2017 23 & 24 May 2017, Helsinki FInland G4 International Maritime Mass Rescue Conference. 11-13 June 2017, SSRS HQ, Gothenburg, Sweden. MRO Subject Matter Expert Course 14-16 June 2017, Gothenburg, Sweden IMRF Fundraising/Communication ‘Skill-Share’ Meeting 29 & 30 June 2017, The Netherlands. 6th International SAR Conference (ISAR 2017) 10-12 July 2017, Hyatt Regency, Chennia, India. ICAO/IMO Joint Working Group on SAR 2-6 October 2017, Wellington, New Zealand. IMRF European Regional Meeting 2017 October 2017 (TBC) World Maritime Rescue Congress (WMRC) 2019 16-19 June 2019, Vancouver, Canada. For further details of all the events listed please go to If you are planning a SAR event of international interest please send the details to

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A New Year message from the IMRF Chair

Exchange programme is another success story. Take part if you can, or see if you can organise something similar in your own region. The fundamental purpose of the IMRF is to help us learn from, and support, each other.

The IMRF’s Chair of Trustees, Captain Udo Helge Fox, writes:

But let us not underestimate the scale of the problems we face, or the advocacy we must engage in. The crisis in the Mediterranean brought new focus to the problems of migration last year. These are problems that SAR crews cannot solve. Governments and international agencies must do more to reduce the need for people to move so dangerously and in such large numbers. The IMRF is the international voice of maritime SAR, representing SAR people the world over at the IMO and in other forums. We will continue to speak out about the needs for action.

First, let me – on behalf of the whole of the IMRF Board, our Chief Executive, Bruce Reid, and the Secretariat – wish you a safe and successful 2017. For many people around the world, of course, life is uncertain, and neither safe nor successful. Perhaps the unexpected political events of 2016 have made it more uncertain for more of us. But hope for the world lies in mankind’s humanitarian instincts – including the work you do, if you are in SAR or support our work. So: thank you for what you have done, and keep up the good work! As Bruce wrote in the December issue of LIFE LINE (which you can find in the newsletter archive at www. 2016 was another very busy year for the IMRF, and there is no sign that 2017 will be different. Far too many lives are still lost at sea, often unreported and most in circumstances when they could have been saved by better safety gear (or any safety gear), better training, better communications or better SAR capability. IMRF members save lives all over the world, and those who have been doing it for a long time try to assist colleagues who are new to it, or who need training and equipment to help them do it better. The ‘Global SAR Plan’ – the International Maritime Organization’s aspirational worldwide system for saving lives at sea – has many gaps in it. IMRF members try to help fill those gaps.

Africa regional meeting & training in Nigeria, April 2016 Bruce wrote about our ongoing projects, especially in the Asia-Pacific and African regions where so many preventable deaths occur in the water. The IMRF can look at the big picture and develop long-term solutions, locally and regionally, supported by our worldwide family of members. Our neutral role, and our consultative status at the IMO, enable us to encourage and facilitate collaboration between the government and nongovernment organisations with an interest in SAR, so that real improvements can be made. We have worked hard on other SAR challenges too. Our mass rescue operations project is one example – join us at our conference in Sweden in June: you can find details elsewhere in this issue. And our European members’ Crew

Photo Credit:Kenny Karpov/ 2016 And these are not all to be found in the Mediterranean. Drowning is a global crisis, of pandemic proportions. Most drownings around the world are not covered by the news media. They are mostly ‘silent deaths’: we don’t hear about them, and action to address their causes falters as a result. The IMRF coordinated a high-profile effort in the Aegean last year – but we have never lost sight of the needs elsewhere, including the need to support small, poorly-resourced SAR organisations trying to save lives away from the world’s attention. One more thing before I close. Elsewhere in this newsletter we report on the importance of managing traumatic stress. This is a highly important matter in SAR, far too often disregarded. I know from personal experience and from colleagues’ reports that significant numbers of rescuers suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. We want to save lives – but we must look after the rescuers too. We should be careful not to encourage over-motivated and mostly young people to do jobs which harm their own health and which really require specialists. Once again the role of the IMRF is to be the advocate for those in distress – including people engaged in SAR who can be overwhelmed by what they see. What did Martin Luther King say? “I have a dream…” It is a humanitarian dream, and it has not yet come true. But we are working on it! If you are a supporter of our work – as an individual, as part of a member organisation, as an Associate or a sponsor – thank you. You are helping to save lives. And if you are not yet a supporter, let me urge you to consider becoming one. Visit, email, or telephone +44 (0)1569 767405. You can help too! And again: my best wishes for 2017.

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Managing Traumatic Stress The IMRF’s David Jardine-Smith writes: Although I have been personally involved in pulling people from the sea on a couple of occasions, my own background in SAR is mostly in rescue coordination, training and management. One or more steps back from the front line. Away from the stress. Right…? Search and rescue people know about ‘stress’, don’t we? We’re in lifesaving – and of course it’s stressful. When you save a life, that’s a cause for celebration. When you lose one – well: you tried, right…? I remember a former colleague of mine – a man I had great respect for generally – scoffing at the idea that rescue coordination centre people might suffer from ‘stress’. He referred to the opening scenes of the film ‘Saving Private Ryan’, then in the cinemas. “That’s stress,” he said. Trying to get ashore in a storm of gunfire: that’s stressful. I suppose he might have allowed that a SAR crew directly involved in a difficult and unsuccessful rescue might suffer too. But the backroom boys & girls? No. He could not have been more wrong – and his attitude, especially as a manager, appals. Yet that attitude is still all too prevalent in the maritime world, including the SAR services. Managers still say, or imply, that stress is just a part of the job – and one that the individual employee or volunteer should be able to cope with. This problem is exacerbated when the individual silently agrees: I should be able to deal with this. If I can’t, there’s something wrong with me. This is all a part of wider society’s difficulty with mental health problems generally. If a crew member breaks a leg, everyone ‘gets it’ – the casualty, her or his managers, health workers, family, friends. If anything, he or she will be treated as even more of a hero. But if the injury is a mental one, are the attitudes the same? No. But they should be. The Nautical Institute and Human Rights at Sea, the charity aiming to raise awareness, implementation and accountability of human rights provisions throughout the maritime environment, has recently published a very useful booklet, Managing Traumatic Stress – guidance for maritime organisations. The booklet is available for free download from or via The IMRF recommends that you have a look at it – especially if you are involved in SAR in a personnel management capacity, but also if you are involved as an individual. The guidance has been developed with the protection of seafarers’ mental health in mind, particularly that of the crews of ships involved in SAR in the Mediterranean during the migrant crisis. But it is of use to any response


organisation. It does not give all the answers, but it does provide very necessary focus, explaining about posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and providing guidance on how it can be addressed. Its author, Professor Neil Greenberg of King’s College, London, notes that “personnel working in high-risk or trauma exposed organisations experience much higher rates [than the general population]. There is, however, very good evidence that the risk of developing PTSD or other mental health conditions can be substantially diminished if organisations put in place evidence-based measures that can prevent and detect issues at an early stage. “Better mental health support not only provides moral benefits, there are also legal and financial benefits to organisations who focus on supporting their most important asset – their people.” Bridget Hogan of the Nautical Institute hopes “that this guide will lead to more open discussion about mental health at sea, ending some of the stigma that attaches to the subject. It provides practical guidance for managers, operators, human resources departments and all involved with the welfare of seafarers around the world.” The IMRF echoes Ms Hogan’s hope. This is something that needs much more open discussion by rescuers and their managers too. And yes: this includes the ‘backroom’ people. Managing Traumatic Stress makes the important points, among many others, that people who become involved in traumatic situations – SAR, in our case – may already be vulnerable to stress disorders; and that people far from the ‘front line’ may be adversely affected. From my own experience, as an example, on the day I returned to work in a rescue coordination centre from a close family bereavement, a helicopter crashed into the sea in our area with terrible loss of life. I did my job, but I was in a mess afterwards. It never occurred to me to seek help with that. Why would it, when others had suffered so much and SAR responders on scene were pulling broken bodies from the water? I would have felt guilty… And this seems to me as good a reason as any to recommend downloading, reading, and acting upon this very helpful publication. To share your own story email

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SAR Points of Contact ‘SAR Points of Contact’, or ‘SPOCs’, are defined by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) as “Rescue coordination centres and other established and recognised national points of contact which can accept responsibility to receive Cospas-Sarsat alert data to enable the rescue of persons in distress”. That’s quite a mouthful! But the SPOC is a very important link in a lifesaving chain – and there continue to be indications that its function is not always properly understood. Saving lives needs a number of things to happen before people in distress can be rescued. First, the fact that someone is in distress needs to be known: the alarm must be raised. That alert must then be passed quickly and efficiently to someone who can initiate a response to it, usually a rescue coordination centre. The RCC must be able to send SAR resources to conduct the rescue – and the people in distress need to be able to survive long enough for that help to arrive in time. One very important means of raising the alarm is to turn on a radio distress beacon. Cospas-Sarsat (more about them in a moment!) estimate that there are more than two million 406 MHz radiobeacons worldwide, the signals from which can be picked up by their satellite packages and downlinked to terminals on the ground. The alerts must then be passed to the SAR authorities for action. And this is where the SPOCs come in. As the name implies, they are contact points for Cospas-Sarsat control centres to pass the alert information to, to get it into the SAR system. The problem that arises – currently in the case of about 20% of SPOCs – is that the information is not always acknowledged or acted upon. Perhaps the communications link nominated is not staffed 24/7; perhaps the people staffing it do not understand the message or what they are supposed to do with it. In both cases this is primarily a matter of training – of the administrators responsible for setting up and running the SPOC, and of its operators. The IMRF is seeking to improve understanding of the problem and to encourage its resolution. The International Cospas-Sarsat Programme’s mission is to provide “accurate, timely, and reliable distress alert and location data to help SAR authorities assist persons in distress”. There are four Parties to the programme – Canada, France, Russia and the USA – and about 40 other countries who play various roles in helping it function. Cospas-Sarsat coordinate the efforts of participating Governments to deploy the resources necessary to detect and locate distress beacons and report that information to SAR authorities – but it does not act as a regulatory body and it does not itself provide a SAR service. These are functions of national Governments. Cospas-Sarsat is an information provider. It does this through a network of distress radiobeacons, satellites, Local User Terminals and Mission Control Centres. Beacon types include Emergency Locator Transmitters (ELTs, for aviation use), Emergency Position-Indicating


Radio Beacons (EPIRBs, for maritime use), and Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs, for personal use, principally on land). The space segments are mounted in satellites in geostationary and low-altitude Earth orbits (GEOSAR & LEOSAR), and will move to an improved medium-altitude system now under development (MEOSAR). Instruments on board the satellites detect beacon signals and downlink them to Local User Terminals; ground receiving stations which process the information received to generate distress alerts. Cospas-Sarsat Mission Control Centres then forward the alerts direct to rescue coordination centres, or to SPOCs. (Please see for full information on the system.) It is the SPOCs’ responsibility to ensure that rapid and reliable two-way communication is established so that SAR services can be provided to those in distress within survival times. If the SPOC is not itself the appropriate RCC, it must pass the alert on without delay. To make this work, the Mission Control Centres and SPOCs must have reliable communication links and operational procedures, including backup routines. Cospas-Sarsat regularly test these communication links; and it is these tests which show up the breaks in the chain. A successful test requires positive feedback from the SPOC (not an automatic acknowledgement). But CospasSarsat report that some SPOCs tested consistently fail to respond as they should: in a disturbing number of cases no response is received by the Mission Control Centre at all. In 2015 12.8% of SPOCs were entirely unresponsive and a further 7% responded less than 50% of the time. A total of 19.8% of SPOCs were “insufficiently responsive”. Data for 2016 suggests that this problem continues. Put simply, if a SPOC does not work, the alerting system fails. The alert from the distress radiobeacon is not passed to SAR responders, and people die unnecessarily as a result. Seeking to address the problem, Cospas-Sarsat have produced a model agreement template for use by MCCs and SPOCs. The template may be downloaded from If you have a role in this area, or are in doubt about how the system is meant to work, we encourage you to visit the website. With two million plus beacons out there, ensuring that the alerting process works is vital. SAR authorities are encouraged to ensure that their SPOC is reliable, 100% responsive to tests and to real alerts, quick to positively acknowledge the alert and quick to act on it, passing the alert on to SAR facilities without delay. To be able to do this the SPOC needs to be properly equipped, with backup systems in place, and to be staffed 24/7 by fully trained personnel. SPOCs are a key part of the lifeline. They need to be reliably responsive to all distress alerts. All images courtesy Cospas-Sarsat

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Talking SAR in the Baltic

autonomous systems in future operations. For more detail, visit

You know how, sometimes, you can wait an hour at the bus-stop and then three buses all come along at once? Well – it’s a bit like that with SAR conferences around the shores of the Baltic early this summer.

Details of the Copenhagen conference at the end of May were not available at time of writing, but should be found in due course at https://searchandrescueeurope.iqpc. com.

There is, of course, the IMRF Maritime Mass Rescue Conference in Gothenburg, Sweden. That takes place on 12-13 June, with a live exercise on the afternoon of the 11th as a free extra. You can read more about all this in the next article, or at But two commercial conferences precede the IMRF’s event. First, TDN’s ‘Maritime Search and Rescue’ will be running in Helsinki, Finland, on 23-24 May. And IQPC have recently announced their ‘Search and Rescue Europe’, which will be held on 30 May - 1 June in Copenhagen, Denmark. Northern Europe is in the happy position of being spoilt for choice! The IMRF is keen to promote SAR discussion at any time. By talking together, or meeting to hear about SAR developments, we will improve SAR and save more lives: that’s clear. So we recommend those of our readers who are able to attend an event in the Baltic region to look at each of the events on offer, and attend at least one of them.

But northern Europe is not the only place discussing SAR! Visit the Events page at to find an event near you. Remember: it’s good to talk!

Mass Rescue Operations: Learning from Experience As regular readers will know, the fourth in the IMRF’s acclaimed series of conferences on maritime mass rescue operations will be held in Gothenburg, Sweden, on Monday & Tuesday 12-13 June 2017, with a live exercise during the late afternoon of Sunday 11th as an ‘optional extra’, at no extra charge, for delegates arriving in the city over the weekend. The International Maritime Organization defines a mass rescue operation as ‘characterised by the need for immediate response to large numbers of persons in distress such that the capabilities normally available to the SAR authorities are inadequate’. In other words there is what the IMRF MRO project team call a ‘capability gap’. It is the aim of the project to help those preparing for these extremely challenging events to fill that gap. If you are in the emergency response, shipping or offshore industries, we urge you to join us in Gothenburg in June.

Our own conference is focussed on mass rescue operations – because we believe it is something that should be focussed on. The other two conferences are more general. IMRF and TDN in particular have agreed that the Helsinki and Gothenburg events should not be seen as ‘either/or’: they are complementary. You can hear about maritime SAR developments in general in Finland, then come to Sweden to discuss mass rescue in particular.

We can guarantee you an excellent opportunity to discuss the issues common to maritime MROs – and we mean ‘discuss’. The IMRF’s MRO conferences have built a reputation for bringing together leading experts in the field and, by enabling attendees to talk the issues through with them rather than simply listen to lectures, to generate real learning from experience. These are the sort of incidents which most people in SAR rarely become directly involved in – so it is all the more important to spend time thinking about what your responses will be. Ask yourself: are you prepared? Because, with mass rescue operations, it’s not a question of ‘If’, but ‘When’…

As TDN say, “SAR has never been more in the spotlight with numerous high profile incidents and innovations leading to a re-evaluation of objectives and capabilities.”

Places at the conference are limited, and are booking well. If you have already reserved your place, keep an eye on for news, particularly of hotel accommodation at discounted rates when it becomes available.

The ‘Maritime Search and Rescue’ agenda includes sections on Maritime Incident Response Groups (MIRG), tackling fires and chemical incidents at sea in the SAR context; Arctic SAR, and ‘optimising intelligence systems in adverse conditions’; first response vessels; ‘exploiting air assets for optimal response’; and a look at unmanned/

If you have not yet booked for the conference, do so soon to avoid disappointment! Visit homeg4, email, or phone +44 (0)1569 767405. The conference fee, including all activities, refreshments and travel between the conference hotels and the venue

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is €500 for IMRF members and €800 for non-members. There are savings to be made by those eligible for the MRO Subject-Matter Expert training course, also in Gothenburg and immediately following the conference, on 14-16 June. But we think that you will agree that the conference package alone represents very good value. The programme begins with a live mass rescue exercise, starting at 1600 on Sunday 11 June and followed by refreshments on the quayside. This will not just be an exercise to watch: you will be invited to participate, as rescue boat crew, coordinator, communicator or shoreside survivor receiver. But don’t worry. We are not out to test you. Indeed, we hope that you will take part in a role different to your usual one. The conference aim, after all, is to learn from experience! On Monday 12th & Tuesday 13th June the main conference will take place in the fine headquarters of IMRF members the Swedish Sea Rescue Society. The IMRF’s conferences are renowned for their inter-active focus on the real issues. You will be able to hear about others’ experiences, to consider in depth the challenges associated with maritime mass rescue operations, and to discuss solutions to these challenges. The conference is being designed around a number of mass rescue case studies, with four main themes: planning, rescue, coordination, and communications. The case studies will be used to introduce the various MRO topics within these themes, with expert panellists giving short, to-the-point presentations to inform the discussion. Topics covered will include: o Planning roles and responsibilities, nationally, internationally and organisationally o Filling the ‘capability gap’ – additional and regional resources, and support on scene o Rescue – retrieval, support during rescue, places of safety and accounting for all those involved o Coordination at sea, on land and in the air – and overall o Communications – priorities, systems, structures o Public relations – the news media, the wider public and those directly involved; and o Training, exercising, and learning from experience. You don’t want to miss this opportunity. To make a booking, or to enquire about sponsorship opportunities or IMRF membership, please visit homeg4, email, or telephone +44 (0)1569 767405.


Mass Rescue Operations: IMRF’s first subject-matter expert course

Over the last few years the IMRF’s maritime mass rescue operations (MRO) project has produced a great deal. We have held three subject-specific conferences and in June we will be running a fourth. We have brought together useful material and developed a series of guidance papers along with an e-book on MRO issues and potential solutions: visit to find out more. We have an ongoing series of MRO workshops, for emergency responders around the world to get together and focus on these most challenging of SAR cases. Now we’re introducing a new element to this work: an MRO subject-matter training course. We announced this new venture in December, and considerable interest has been expressed in attending the first course. This will be held at Chalmers University in Gothenburg, Sweden, on 14-16 June 2017, immediately after our MRO conference in that same fine city. We expect that it will be followed by others, elsewhere in the world. The planning team has been working on the details, and we believe that the course will be of significant value in improving MRO preparedness, and saving more lives – which is why the IMRF is running it. Those attending will be able to acquire a much fuller understanding of the MRO issues. Learning outcomes will include an enhanced ability to identify, analyse and understand the problems, and to propose solutions. This learning can then be applied by attendees when they get back home. It is important to note that the course is not for everyone. It is primarily intended for senior managers such as national SAR Coordinators, other strategic planners, and trainers. Attendees will be those who have, or who expect to have, planning and training responsibilities at national or major organisational level, or who can offer planning and/or training services in this area. A wide knowledge of maritime SAR systems and procedures, as set out in the International Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue (IAMSAR) Manual, will be a prerequisite for attendance. The course will be conducted in English. The course fee for IMRF members will be €500, and for non-members €800. A €200 reduction in the overall fee is offered if you attend both the mass rescue conference and the course. The planning team note that attending the conference will be of benefit to course members – but it will not be a requirement. You need to know how maritime SAR works in detail so as to be able to benefit

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fully from the course. We will not have time to go over the basics. Places on the course must be strictly limited, to enable everyone attending to participate fully. If you are interested, you can find out more at homeg4. Follow the ‘Subject-Matter Expert Course’ links and, if you would like to apply, you can do so online. No payment will be requested until after your application has been accepted.


there was a vessel outside of the San Juan basin entrance: "There is a ship in the basin smoking badly and seems to be on fire”. The Call Center immediately contacted the U.S. Coast Guard Rescue Sub-Center (RSC) San Juan, notifying them of the situation. At the same time, RSC San Juan Watchstanders were receiving VHF communications from the vessel:



-Company mentioned on press releases as conference sponsor -Exhibitor Space -A page in the conference booklet -5 minutes slot to address to the conference on an MRO related topic -Networking Opportunities

After establishing radio communications with RSC San Juan the Caribbean Fantasy, a 614-foot passenger and cargo ferry inbound from the Dominican Republic, stated they had a main engine room fire which was now out of control. There were 511 passengers and crew on board the stricken ship and they were preparing to abandon ship.

Benefits of Conference Sponsorship include:

-Company logo on MRO Conference web-pages -2 passes to attend the Conference -Helping your company achieve its Corporate Social Responsibility goals.

If you would like to enquire about sponsorship opportunities please email Caroline Jupe at

Unity of effort Mr. Tom Gorgol and Mr. Joel Morgado of the United States Coast Guard (USCG) talk about the co-ordinated multiagency Mass Rescue response to the M/V Caribbean Fantasy. The Caribbean Fantasy's engine room caught fire, spreading to other compartments, forcing passengers and crew to abandon the vessel. 511 people and 5 pets were saved that day with minimal injuries and impact to the environment.

All photos courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard Station San Juan, Puerto Rico. It was nearly 7:15 am, on August 17, 2016, when the Puerto Rico 9-1-1 Emergency Dispatch Call Center received a call from a member of the public saying that

RSC San Juan immediately began dispatching SAR units and the USCG Cutter Joseph Tezanos, a 154-foot Fast Response Cutter, assumed the duties of On-SceneCoordinator (OSC). As OSC, the Joseph Tezanos began directing and coordinating the numerous assets that arrived to assist in the safe evacuation of the passengers and crew. With over 30 vessels involved in the incident this was a daunting task! There were over 15 local vessels offering assistance as well as: • Two 33-foot Coast Guard boats • A 55-foot Aids to Navigation Boat (ANB), • U.S. Customs and Boarder Protection vessel, • Three local ferries Of particular note was the effort by the Coast Guard crew from the ANB who skilfully manoeuvred their vessel to recover passengers from a lifeboat whose davit had malfunctioned leaving the lifeboat hanging 10 feet from the waterline. As the ANB was disembarking the passengers from the lifeboat, one of the passengers went into cardiac arrest and a crew member quickly performed CPR and resuscitated the passenger.

Meanwhile, the majority of the passengers were abandoning to the liferafts by making the descent down the vessel’s steep Marine Evacuation Slide system. This involved going past the hull of the ship which was so hot from the uncontrollable engine fire that the paint was blistering! At the same time, Coast Guard helicopters coordinated an orderly evacuation by air, hoisting numerous individuals off of the burning vessel. While the rescue of the survivors was taking place, members from U.S. Coast Guard Sector San Juan and Station San Juan rapidly deployed to the pre-designated

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landing site, which was adjacent to the cruise ship piers in downtown San Juan. Of particular note was the determination of the landing site to be used: Since the survivors would be coming ashore via liferafts and vessels the preferred landing needed to be a lower pier structure with adequate access to emergency care personnel. Once the survivors started arriving at the landing site, the Coast Guard, alongside federal, state, and local agencies (26 in total), immediately began working as a cohesive group to determine medical needs, as well as to ensure accurate passenger accountability, and to reunite family members. The success of this inter-agency coordination is largely due to the Coast Guard’s tireless effort in conducting stakeholder outreach, Mass Rescue Operation (MRO) plan development, and ensuring the Puerto Rico emergency response system and local maritime industry network were fully engaged in exercises to help them understand the challenges associated in responding to a maritime MRO. On this day in August, these efforts paid off and more importantly they enhanced working relationships across several agencies and organisations who have varying degrees of jurisdiction and responsibilities. Multiple agencies and organisations worked together to save lives and this unity of effort resulted in the safe evacuation of all 511 persons on board (and five pets).

This MRO possessed many of the key elements associated with other MRO events: • Rescue coordination and response by multiple organizations, agencies and resources • Medical triage • Immigration and customs • Salvage concerns • Proper landing site designation • Security concerns • Public relations • Passenger and crew accountability • Activation of a family reception center The critical lesson learned from this MRO response is preparedness. All 26 agencies, that participated in the response followed the comprehensive Puerto Rico Mass Rescue Plan thus ensuring that everyone understood their roles and responsibilities. The success of the response of the Caribbean Fantasy MRO would not have been possible without the local emergency management and response community working together, relying on their training, and following the local MRO plan.


Out of the Fire into the Frying-pan? From fires to hazardous & noxious substances and SAR Juho Kurttio, Deputy Manager of the Finnish Border Guard’s Baltic Sea Maritime Incident Response Group (MIRG) Project, writes at the conclusion of the project: The Baltic Sea MIRG project (see ‘Ship fires in the Baltic’ in the December 2016 edition of LIFE LINE) has now ended and we here at the Finnish Border Guard would like to thank all who have taken part in the project. Especially we would like to express our gratitude to all partners and stakeholders for your efforts, valuable contributions and cooperation. It really has been a great experience with great results! In addition, we would like to thank all MIRG actors across Europe for your valuable inputs, comments and ideas — direct or indirect. Without your great cooperation none of the project's results would have seen daylight! The Baltic Sea MIRG project's results (5 reports), including the operational guidelines and a summary report which contains the key results and future recommendations, can be found on the project website: As the Baltic Sea MIRG project made contributions to the international MIRG operating environment on the Baltic Sea, one important point should be made regarding cooperation and co-work. One significant consequence of earlier and ongoing MIRG projects across Europe has been the formation of an informal MIRG expert network — and we think this has shown in this project and should be cherished in future as it is one of the most important results for future MIRG development. We are now shifting our focus to another project as the Finnish Border Guard is participating as a partner in the ChemSAR project 2016-2019, which will again utilise MIRG knowledge and experience. There is a lack of operational plans and standard operational procedures (SOPs) for SAR operations applicable to cases of hazardous and noxious substances (HNS) incidents in the Baltic Sea Region, according to rescue authorities and study reports. There are large quantities of different chemicals transported by sea and the risk of accidents exists. Demanding maritime accidents are almost always international in nature in the Baltic, which emphasises the significance of common procedures and common level of know-how in saving human lives at sea.

The lessons learned in the Caribbean Fantasy incident will be considered in depth at the IMRF's mass rescue conference in Sweden in June. (See page 6).

The ChemSAR project will create the operational plans and SOPs needed so that the lives of the rescue crews will be protected and the impact on the environment will be minimised. It will develop e-learning material to enhance and harmonize the level of know-how to ensure safe rescue operations and a chemical data bank to act as the basis for information-seeking in rescue operations and e-learning. The project outcome will be piloted in a chart exercise and in an international rescue exercise at sea to test the applicability of the project results in practice.

Video footage can be found at https://youtu. be/1l7NCSQSjQU This is provided by the Coast Guard Foundation.

The Baltic Sea countries have different national practices for maritime HNS accidents but these incidents call for joint rescue operations and procedures. The project

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partners represent the rescue authorities; the project's main target groups. Altogether nine project partners from five countries in the Baltic Sea Region will take part. The total budget of the project is €2.5m and is partly financed by the Interreg Baltic Sea Region programme. If you have any questions, inquiries or comments to make, please contact (Please note that the MIRG project e-mail address previously disseminated will eventually be shut down.)

Focus on Events It is only just February and yet here at the IMRF HQ we are already inundated with events and exciting projects for the year ahead. As seen on page 6 the Baltic will be a hub for SAR conferences in early summer, culminating in the IMRF’s mass rescue conference, ‘G4’. This is just one of the events that we have lined up for 2017 and below is a small selection of some other events that are going on across the globe.



Learning from Experience 11-13 June 2017 - Gothenburg - Sweden

Hosted by the

Full details of all events can be found at http://www.

Fundraising and communications Skill share 29-30 June in the Netherlands

Jolan van den Broek, Head of Communications and Fundraising for KNRM, writes:


The theme is sharing and learning from each other’s knowledge on innovation and best practices – come and get the insights you need from each other to not only build strong fundraising strategies for the here and now, but to also move beyond the challenges of day-to-day income generation, communication and prevention campaigns and into a more sustainable future. The KNRM in the Netherlands is happy to invite you so 'Save the Date'. Registration for this event will be available soon…keep an eye on the IMRF events page. We look forward to seeing you there! europe/fundraising-funding-skill-share-meeting

Singapore Maritime Week (SMW)

23 – 28 April 2017

This is the leading maritime event in Singapore driven by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA). SMW gathers the international maritime community in Singapore for a week of conferences, dialogues, exhibitions and social events in celebration of all things maritime. The range of activities and events organised by MPA, the industry and research and educational institutions, as well as the cosmopolitan profile of participants, reflect the vibrancy and diversity of Singapore as a major international maritime centre. In 2016, we have attracted over 43,000 public participants and members of the international maritime industry community. SMW has grown in size and significance since the inaugural event in 2006, and is attracting more participants and event organisers from around the world as activities are added to the line-up, and as eminent speakers share their insights and participate in dialogues on topical maritime issues. This dynamism and the good range of issues discussed during SMW are major for maritime decisionmakers, as are the many business networking platforms. For more information, kindly refer web/portal/2016

Third Annual Ferry Safety & Technology Conference NYC

11-12th May 2017

Roberta Weisbrod, Executive Director of the Worldwide Ferry Safety Association, writes:

In June this year KNRM will be hosting a Fundraising and Communications skillshare in the Netherlands. This will be open to all IMRF members and will consist of two days of plenaries, workshops and round table sessions that will shine a light on fundraising and communications to explore and adapt to the specific needs of working for a lifeboat institution.

The Third Annual Ferry Safety and Technology conference, sponsored by the Worldwide Ferry Safety Association, will push forward on cutting edge issues explored at previous conferences. Included will be: E-Learning: At long last a course for crew will be unveiled for use on a mobile platform. Real time weather on routes: Washington State Ferries is the only system that has weather monitors on its routes.

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The safety and efficiency of other ferry systems would benefit from weather monitoring of routes. Presentations on how to make that happen. Communication and Telematics: Enhanced communication between ferries and terminals improves safety, security and efficiency. Different ways to make that happen will be presented. Telematics, the long distance transmission of engine diagnostics and performance, can be utilized on ferries and coupled with other information (e-learning, weather, passenger data) to enhance safety, and reduce fuel and insurance costs. Advances in developing nations: The past year has seen a major increase in ferry initiatives and innovations in developing nations, opening markets and stimulating ideas. For full details of this event please see www.

Application Deadline:

FEBRUARY 2017 27th February

Initial Interviews:

13th - 21st March

Final Interviews:

5th April

Full details of this role can be found on the Prospectus website at:

2017 International Maritime Organisation Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea

CEO Recruitment continued from front page

We are working with an executive search firm, Prospectus, to find his successor. They are helping us to find and secure someone who is an ambitious, collaborative leader with experience of working in a cross-cultural environment.

Role Profile Title Location

Chief Executive London based (NB - There is no office in London but the current CEO works from home and has access to a desk within RNLI's London Office) Hours 37 hours per week, Full time Reports to Board of Trustees, through the Chairman Responsible Based in UK: for (UK) - Operations Manager (yet to be appointed) - Fundraising Manager - Maritime SAR & Advocacy Manager - Executive Officer - Membership & Communications - Accountant/IMRF Secretary - IT Manager Responsible Asia-Pacific Regional Centre, based for (China) in China: - APRC Manager - 2 x Executive Officers

Nominations are now being sought for the 2017 International Maritime Organization (IMO) Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea. Last year the recipient of this prestigious award was Captain Radhika Menon, Master of the oil products tanker Sampurna Swarajya for her role in the dramatic rescue of seven fishermen from a sinking fishing boat in tumultuous seas. (see LIFE LINE October 2016) The awards are for “individuals or groups who risk their own lives to perform acts of exceptional bravery in attempting to save life at sea, or in attempting to prevent or mitigate damage to the marine environment�. Although the IMO's panel of judges gives special consideration to actions carried out by non-SAR professionals, SAR unit crews may also be nominated for outstanding responses. The award is for actions performed during the period 1 March 2016 to 28 February 2017 and nominations for the Award may be made by: -United Nations Member States; -Intergovernmental organizations; and/or -Non-governmental international organizations in consultative status with IMO.

All nominations must reach the IMO by no later than 14 April 2017. More details can be found on the IMO website and also at org/events/europe/imo-award-for-exceptionalbravery-at-sea-calling-for-nominations-2017 Page 11


SAR: The Good-The Bad-The Braveand everything in-between! Rebecca Jeffries, Editor of LIFE LINE, writes:

Much like the IMO Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea, here at IMRF HQ we are also beginning our search for a H.E.R.O. The IMRF Honouring Excellence in Rescue Operations awards 2017 are now accepting nominations with a closing date of 28th July 2017 so there is plenty of time to submit a nomination. More details will follow later in the year. See As Editor of LIFE LINE, compiling the stories for last year’s H.E.R.O awards was inspiring, heart-warming and at times gut wrenching. Search and rescue is an environment that nurtures heroism and that is why we want to acknowledge the heroes within our SAR family. Throughout the years, LIFE LINE has been a place where IMRF members can come and tell their story. Anyone involved in maritime SAR will hold some stories close to their heart and I am no different. SAR is not just about the brave though, it is about dedication, hope and sometimes plain old luck. As a crew member with RNLI Stonehaven one particular mission that has stuck with me was a search for 2 missing fishermen off the coast of North East Scotland. It began as an overdue vessel report and we began our search for the small creel boat with high hopes that we would find them safe and well, it was foggy so we had no reason to believe they were anything but lost. The minutes spent searching turned into hours, the hours quickly turned into days. We searched alongside our sister stations and slowly hope started to drain, but still we searched with a combined total search area of over 1800 NM was covered. The termination of that search broke each and every one of our hearts, we were a new station and we hadn’t been through this before, we wanted to save them, we wanted to pluck them from the deep blue and take them home and it hurt us all. At the time I also worked at MRCC Aberdeen as a Watch Officer in the operations room. I turned up at work the next day for handover to be greeted with "you will never guess what..we found them!" My heart flipped, and immediately sank a little. They had gone missing over 2 days ago. The chance of the next sentence being they are alive was low to say the least..I waited for the inevitable sentence to spill out... "A fishing vessel found them 50NM East of Arbroath, they are alive!" For days lifeboats from 3 stations, coastguards, police, a trio of helicopters as well as commercial vessels had searched and searched, the MRCC had calculated search


areas, refined them, and calculated again. We had all done the very best we could but the reality was that we were never going to find them, we could not account for the fact that, whilst lost in fog just ¼ of a mile from land, they had started their engine and headed towards the coast in what they thought was a Westerly direction. This Westerly was Easterly and they were heading out to sea. When they decided to switch off the engine they then started to drift, miles from what the coastguard had as their last known position. No amount of search pattern calculation can account for that element of human error. Even a crystal ball would have struggled to get a clear picture of where they were. And yet they were rescued, they were safe and they were on their way home to their families. How? Pure luck, nothing more, nothing less, the trawler that found them was on a set course, and they just happened to go right by the drifting boat.

The crew of RNLI Stonehaven meet the Gourdon fisherman after their days lost at sea. Photo Credit:RNLI Stonehaven Maritime Search and Rescue is made up of stories like this, it is a patchwork of experience, each story has value and there is always a lesson to be learnt and at the heart of the IMRF is the desire to share these stories with each other, and the world. We want to share your stories, stories that are endearing, stories that are tragic, stories that are funny and stories that just go to show what can happen when you least expect it. SAR may not always be about the brave, but it is always about hope. The two fishermen involved came to meet my crew and they said that they knew we were looking for them and that, along with two chocolate biscuits and a bottle of water, gave them the strength to survive. My crew did not pluck them from the water, the helicopters did see them from afar, the coordination centre did not predict where they would be and yet, with nothing but hope, they survived to tell their story… and what a story it is.

If you have a maritime SAR story that you want to share then email me at Page 12

Profile for Wendy Webster

LIFELINE February 2017 - English  

LIFELINE February 2017 - English

LIFELINE February 2017 - English  

LIFELINE February 2017 - English