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In 2018 the Uruguayan Navy, who are responsible for the provision of maritime search and rescue services within the Uruguayan maritime search and rescue region, purchased two rescue vessels of 27m and 23m of length from the German Maritime SAR Service (DGzRS).

Shipped as heavy lifts to Montevideo they were recommissioned by a German team of two mechanical engineers, one electro master and one mariner. Together with the new crew the two ships were brought back to life.

Quickly people with different cultural background joint together targeting for uniting the “new” ships and their new crews.

Back to duty the ships sailed with mixed crew 120 nautical miles eastward towards the coastal Naval base in La Paloma. At the mouth of the Rio De La Plata training took place in all weather conditions.

This proved ideal for further familiarisation and training of the Uruguayan crews.

Step by step technical and safety systems, nautical equipment, recovery and rescue equipment were introduced and handling was trained.

Quickly the crews shared their knowledge on rescue operations faced, rescue techniques s well as insights on family and hobbies.

During their long period of operations in German waters the rescue vessels individually had undergone numerous modifications and modernisations which required explaining the specific peculiarities of both units.

Technical non-compatibles like shore based power supply were jointly resolved. Existing language barriers were solved successfully with sign language, or Google Translator.

Preparation, training and debriefing filled up to 14 hours every day as instructors were aware that the given 14 days would be a tight schedule for providing the new crews with the required knowledge, skills and self-confidence to master the challenge of handling technically demanding vessels.

To assure the Uruguayan colleagues an “after sale service” a 24 hours WhatsApp hotline was established which is still used frequently.

It is not only a big help for the new crews but also a tool making us feeling to be a backbone for colleagues.

After being in service for some time a number of staff was redeployed within the Uruguayan Navy.

That led to a significant loss of required knowledge and experience on board and consequently led to technical problems.

DGzRS therefore decided to undertake a second mission to assist during the first planned dry-docking and maintenance in Uruguay.

That proved to be very useful.

Now there was sufficient time to explain shipbuilding details like piping and cooling systems, how to overhaul a rudder or the required replacement of anodes.

All the relevant things which could not be explained in the first course were now described in full and forgotten knowledge was refreshed.

The DGzRS crew were also able to answer questions which popped up when crews gained experience with the rescue vessels. A lot of the uncertainties could be resolved.

Taking on this responsibility the trainers’ team perceived themselves as “patrons” of not only the new crews but also the two rescue vessels.

It is impossible to transfer the knowledge of decades of handling, operating and maintaining highly special vessels in just a fortnight of intensive training and so they are ready to assist all involved.