Sea rescue, innovative lifesaving equipment, personal commitment and organisational capability, all feature in the International Maritime Rescue Federation’s (IMRF) short list for the H.E.R.O. Awards, introduced for the first time this year.

The H.E.R.O. Awards have been developed in cooperation with IMRF partner, Orolia/McMurdo, of, a global leader of emergency readiness and response solutions, and will draw attention to the life-saving work done in maritime Search and Rescue (SAR) across the world.

Entries come from across the world, including organisations and individuals as far afield as China and the United States to Bangladesh and New Zealand.

The categories for the awards include team, individual, innovation and technology and the first H.E.R.O. Award for outstanding service to maritime search and rescue, ‘The Vladimir Maksimov Award’, sponsored by Inmarsat.

Vladimir Maksimov

The sponsorship is seen as a fitting tribute to Vladimir Maksimov, Inmarsat Director of SOLAS Services, who died on 4th May 2016 after a short illness, following 25 years with Inmarsat. Mr Maksimov played a central role in the Inmarsat safety team.

"These awards have revealed the extent of the dedication, selflessness, courage and imagination that exists in the global search and rescue community," said Bruce Reid, CEO, IMRF, "They reflect the range of skills – from leadership and communication to practical search and rescue and lifesaving invention – that make this community so special and so vital to prevent loss of life in the world’s waters."

Short listed for the ‘The Vladimir Maksimov Award’ are Mohammed Drissi, who has worked selflessly as the Regional Coordinator for the Morocco SAR region linking 6 bordering countries. Bat-Amgalan Gursuren, who is Head of Search and Rescue Branch of Emergency Management Department in Selenge province, Mongolia. Linde Jelsma, of KNRM in the Netherlands, who began work on the IMRF Lifeboat Crew Exchange programme in 2012 with a pilot exchange and, as Head Coordinator, has been key to its developing success ever since. And Mattias Wengelin, based in Uganda, whose nominators describe him as "a role model for younger men/women, who are considering international development as a possible path."

Mohammed Drissi Bat-Amgalan Gursuren Linde Jelsma Mattias Wengelin

The short listed individuals are Captain Hervé Lepage, Master of CMA CGM ROSSINI and his crew from France, who have been nominated for the highly commendable and professional skilled search and rescue of the crew of the upturned catamaran Llama Lo of the South African Wild Coast on the 18th October 2015. Mania-Maria Bikof and her team of lifeguards from Lifeguard Hellas, who left their homes, families and work to live in a tent on the beach in Lesbos, Greece. And Lars G. Solvik, who has been employed in the Norwegian Society for Sea Rescue (RS) since 2002 and played a key role in RS’s first international operation, Operation Poseidon.

Captain Hervé Lepage Mania-Maria Bikof Lars G. Solvik

The team short list is: from India, Captain Shashi Prakash, Crew and RCCNZ, who led a 22-crew operation diverting his vessel, the Southern Lily, 175 nautical miles to reach a damaged yacht struggling in treacherous conditions off the North-West of New Zealand. Proactiva Open Arms from Spain, for the traumatic rescue of several hundred victims of people smuggling, whose vessel broke apart in the sea of Lesbos with considerable loss of life. And Rescue 936 the civilian helicopter SAR team based at Caernarfon in North Wales for undertaking several rescues, in very hazardous conditions, of men, women and children across North West England during Storm Desmond.

Captain Shashi Prakash, Crew & RCCNZ Proactiva Open Arms Rescue 936

Picture: 'Captain Prakash Rescue'


Short listed in the innovative/technology category are: D4H Technologies, headquartered in the Republic of Ireland, who specialise in the deployment of solutions for the management of multiple, or individual, SAR teams facilitating the management of incidents, personnel, equipment and reports. Marine Rescue NSW, the official volunteer marine rescue service of Australia’s most populous state with over 3,000 volunteers and 45 rescue units, who have developed the web-based Seahawk vessel tracking system and a companion free Marine Rescue App. And James Benson of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (UK and Ireland) and Bournemouth University, who have worked together to develop the ‘Bottle Buoy’ an original and innovative design by James Benson. Aimed at low resource communities, the buoy is a minimum cost flotation device that can be used as public rescue equipment and swimming instruction.

D4H Technologies Marine Rescue NSW James Benson, RNLI (UK & Ireland)
& Bournemouth University

The H.E.R.O. Awards 2016 recognise actions that took place, or were completed, in the period 1st July 2015 to 30th June 2016. No applications were accepted for events or actions that fell outside this period. The recipients of H.E.R.O. Awards will be announced at ceremonies at Orolia/McMurdo headquarters in the USA and Portugal on 15 November 2016.