The Mixed Migrant Safety - Mediterranean Project

How can the International Maritime Rescue Federation (IMRF) provide assistance/expertise to those who are faced with the current maritime search and rescue (SAR) challenges in the Mediterranean?




Who & What is the IMRF

Who & What Is the IMRF?

We are a long-established international non-governmental organization (NGO) representing 125 organisations with an interest in maritime SAR across 48 countries around the world. Most of the major European national maritime SAR services are members of the IMRF and we work together to reduce the loss of life on and around water. Our membership includes Maritime Rescue Coordination Centres, Coast Guards and volunteer response organisations and spans both Government and non-Government SAR organisations.

What We Do

What We Do

Represent our members on global maritime SAR issues at IMO, where we hold consultative status, and other international forums.
Develop guidelines and provide organisational support around the concept of mass rescue.
Promote cooperation, exchange of information, research and development, and provide advice and consultancy for and between maritime SAR services – based on our knowledge of all the key organisations, their capabilities and their interest in this area.
Encourage and promote the development of maritime SAR services throughout the world in order that we can work towards truly global SAR provision.

SAR in the Mediterranean Today - How We Perceive the Current Situation

SAR in the Mediterranean Today – How We Perceive the Current Situation


Huge numbers of ill-prepared asylum-seekers and economic migrants are making the journey by sea to Europe either via the Southern Mediterranean heading for Italy or Malta or in the Eastern Mediterranean from Turkey to Greece.
There is no indication of any significant reduction in the number attempting the sea crossing over the next 12 months albeit the winter months will make crossings more difficult and deter some attempts.
There are insufficient maritime SAR resources and a lack of mass rescue experience in both these affected areas.


IMRF Policy Towards the Current Mixed Migrant Issue

IMRF Policy Towards the Current Mixed Migrant Issue


Recognising that the solution to the underlying humanitarian crises cannot be found at sea – they must be addressed at source and by the intended destination countries – we focus on the maritime SAR issues they give rise to.
We recognise that the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean are very different SAR challenges, requiring specific solutions appropriate to each affected maritime area.
We would like to help governments and agencies develop and improve an integrated rescue provision in both locations by coordinating between the agencies seeking to build maritime SAR capacity (coastguards and, where they exist, voluntary lifeboat organisations) and IMRF members who can/could provide equipment and training.
We would also like to ensure that any input or development is ultimately sustainable – when the problem declines, the local facilities should be stronger for the future.


How We Can Help

How We Can Help?

We have a unique ability to access skills and expertise from some of the world’s recognised leaders in maritime SAR and engage them at a strategic and a tactical level.

We have several partners willing and able to supply or procure appropriate assets in the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean regions – but they want to be part of a coordinated effort.
We can also access significant levels of expertise in relevant SAR training to support and help develop the capability of existing maritime SAR teams.
And, we have a successful track record in the current crisis.
  o One IMRF member has operated a self-contained 23m rescue boat in Greek waters (under Frontex control) for the past 3 months rescuing over 700 people. They have also donated equipment to the Hellenic Rescue Service.
  o Another is providing 2 self-contained 13m rescue craft to the Greek rescue authorities in the next month.
  o And another has successfully rescued 11,600 people in the last 7 months from the Libyan sector from their private vessel.
But, going into the winter and preparing for 2016, we would like to engage with, coordinate and improve on the existing resource in conjunction with all the relevant authorities.



Following a request from the Hellenic Rescue Team for IMRF assistance made at the World Maritime Rescue Congress 2015 a number of IMRF members responded.

For over 6 months the rescue services in the Aegean have been boosted by the support of a number of IMRF Members.

The Norwegian Society for Sea Rescue (RS) have the rescue cruiser “Peter Henry von Koss ” based in Lesvos saving lives as part of the Frontex coordinated activity. RS also answered the call for assistance from the Hellenic Rescue Team (HRT) providing training, equipment and a quick response rescue boat.

The Swedish Sea Rescue Society have been operating 2 rescue boat out of Samos working with HRT and the Hellenic Coast Guard. The “Yellow Boats” campaign has provided some much needed relief for the stretched resources in the area.

Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) who have run successful rescue campaigns of the coast of Libya have positioned the 51m emergency response vessel, Topaz Responder, in Greek territorial waters, to act as a patrol and response unit, and as mother ship to two high-speed rescue vessels, Aylan and Galip, named for the Kurdi brothers whose deaths shocked the world in September.

Seawatch, another member organisation who has worked in the Libyan waters, have been saving lives working out of Lesvos since the middle of 2015.

New IMRF members, Spanish Volunteers, Salvamento Marítimo Humanitario have been working on Chios helping train local volunteers, fundraising for a new rescue boat and providing rescue services in partnership with the local authorities.

It is not just the rescue services that have been providing support. Associate Members, DACON has donated equipment to help the developing SAR groups and a number of Trusts have donated to the IMRF to support the local rescue services.

Great work being undertaken but also a recognition that with the numbers of people risking crossing the Aegean Sea is likely to be the same or higher this year, more needed to be done.

A number of the large IMRF European NGO met late last year and agreed to find ways of further supporting the development of the local maritime SAR services.

In close cooperation with the Hellenic Coast Guard, IMRF member organisations from across Europe, including the UK and Ireland’s Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), the Swedish Sea Rescue Society (SSRS), the German Maritime SAR Service (DGzRS), and the Norwegian Society for Sea Rescue (Redningsselskapet) will continue to work with the local SAR services in the Aegean, giving assistance with coordination and training and the provision of equipment and rescue boats, as well as volunteer support over the next 12 months.

Mixed Migrant Safety Project-Aegean Sea

Mixed Migrant Safety Project-Aegean Sea

Project Objectives:


1) Short term for the IMRF to seek to fill any significant capacity gap for 2016 (that the Coastguard and HRT cannot provide).
2) Longer term to use the experience of IMRF membership to help improve the overall SAR capacity and capability in the Aegean to cope with the current high demand but then for what might be described as a more normal rescue requirement.


Project Plan

IMRF Members project participating organisations RNLI, KNRM, DGzRS, SSRS and HRT, Non-member project partner Hellenic Coast Guard (HCG) working in cooperation with RS and the Hellenic Rescue Team.


We support the HRT to have 6 new operational RIB lifeboats by May 2016, with 8 in total by the end of the year.

These boats would be spread across the 4 island centres and where possible manned by suitably trained HRT personnel.

Where suitably trained personnel are not initially possible we will explore the possibility of IMRF members’ providing crew to compensate. However, by end of 2016, we should aim for a situation where all boats and stations should have sufficiently competent HRT crews (see item 2 for detail on training).

2) A common training framework for the HRT is developed by the IMRF, based on the new Rescue Boat Guidelines, as soon as possible and this would be used to train all the HRT teams in a standard manner. This framework will probably be structured around:
a. Basic seamanship for all crew;
b. Specific RIB SAR, by type of boat;
c. Specific RIB technical support, again by boat type;
d. Moving onto advanced competencies as training evolved including providing ‘train the trainer’ opportunities;
e. Finally we will explore the concept of a crew mentorship programme.
3) We support HRT to set up a new lifeboat base on Chios (using the Rescue Boat Guide-lines), which has been identified as an area of urgent need.
4) Following the request of the Hellenic Coastguard to the DGzRS for support of a large life-boat in Lesvos - DGzRS will aim, temporarily, to provide a 23M rescue boat for approx. 6 months in 2016.
5) We support the HRT to grow as an effective organisation through providing them with ad-vice on governance, maritime SAR management, PR and fundraising – details and proposals TBC.
6) Recruit a Greek IMRF Project Manager to be based within the HRT and to a specification to be agreed between the IMRF and HRT.

How Can You Help?

How Can You Help?

Working together we can achieve so much more.

If you or your organisation would like to partner with this project or able to make a donation of time, resources, expertise, financial, etc, please go to the following pages:

To donate your time, expertise and resources, please register here (new window).

To donate financially, please visit our Support Us(new window).

To donate resources and expertise only, please visit our MAM Website (new window) .

To become an IMRF Member, please visit the "Become a Member" pages (new window).

IMRF Contacts

IMRF Contacts


Job Title Name E-mail
Project Manager: Andreas Arvidsson       
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Chief Executive Officer:       
Bruce Reid This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Chairman: Udo Helge Fox This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.