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The first time lifeboat services presented themselves to a broader public was at the world trade shows initiated in the second half of the 19th century. It is known that rescue boats were displayed at the EXPO in Paris in 1867, for example.

At its hundredth anniversary in 1924 the RNLI invited lifesavers from around the world to the “International Conference on the World´s Life-Boat Service” in London.

It was such a success that participants agreed to meet again every four years. The Second World War caused an interruption, but since 1947 the members of the informal International Lifeboat Federation and, from 2007 on, of the officially founded International Maritime Rescue Federation have been coming together every four years to share knowledge and ideas, learn about each other and, last but not least, get together with friends and supporters of the humanitarian spirit of saving lives on world’s waters.

Since its establishment the IMRF has achieved a great deal – but it can seem like a few drops of water on a hot stone, and the results of our work are not always immediately visible to everybody.

All our activities depend to a great extent on members willing to volunteer and on the financial support we receive.

WMRC 2019 in Vancouver is a great opportunity to attract new members and supporters.

Our host, the Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue, has done a great job to make this event a success. The programme of the Congress is outstanding in quality and the range of issues covered.

I am sure we all will leave from here taking with us ideas, facts, or inspiration but also with new friends and fond memories of this wonderful city, country and the hospitality received.

WMRC 2019 will also provide us with a newly elected board of Trustees.

We will likely see some known, but also some new faces. Having had the privilege to serve IMRF right from its first day it is now time for me to step back myself.

IMRF is still a “delicate plant” but I am optimistic that we will continue to progress if we keep motivation, momentum, growth in membership and raise more funds for improving maritime search and rescue capability worldwide.


Mit freundlichen Grüßen,

Udo Helge Fox

IMRF Chair, 2015-2019