Donated rescue boats will save refugees in Greece

IMRF Members are helping to transform the Hellenic Rescue Team into a new and professional maritime SAR organisation IMRF Members are helping to transform the Hellenic Rescue Team into a new and professional maritime SAR organisation

The German Maritime Search and Rescue Service (DGzRS) has donated two rescue boats to the Hellenic Rescue Team (HRT) which are helping to rescue stranded refugees crossing the Aegean.

Rescue boats Zeta and Chiara were donated to support HRT’s rescue station in delivering search and rescue missions at sea, in order to save refugees crossing the Aegean.

Since the first vessel went into operation in April 2017, the small, but enthusiastic, group of HRT volunteers have performed 17 rescue missions, under the command of the Coastguard, and have helped more than 200 people to reach the shore safely.

“When we first came to Greece two years ago, we saw ordinary people doing something extraordinary”, said Udo Fox, chairman of the International Maritime Rescue federation (IMRF) and CEO of DGzRS.

“We saw a country suffering from an economic crisis, facing a humanitarian crisis of such a dimension. Nobody would think this could happen in Europe. Reading the news, or watching TV, is one thing. Being personally involved is a totally different story. We were impressed by the altruistic attitude that Greece widely showed.”

Safety training

The donation of Zeta and Chiara was followed by a six-month training programme provided by DGzRS trainers, who visited Kos once a month and provided three-day training sessions on boat operation, navigation, towing and more.

Mr Fox added that the support is not over yet. In 2018, DGzRS will invite HRT to its simulator training centre in Bremen for state of the art training on SAR operations planning, coordination and conduct in compliance with international standards of the IMO and the IMRF.

Since 2015, when the refugee crisis reached its peak in Greece, HRT has been offered 13 rescue boats and two rescue runners from IMRF members in Europe (RS, SSRS, KNRM, RNLI and DGzRS) to enhance its operating capability at sea. However, the assistance was not limited to boats.

IMRF Members have been providing training courses, rescue equipment and mentoring to the volunteers and staff of HRT, transforming the operation into a new and professional maritime SAR organisation.

By Anne-Marie Causer

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