Presented with IMRF The Vladimir Maksimov Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Maritime SAR Sector

Mr Kooijman was recognised for his work as a lifelong SAR volunteer and founder of CITRO (the Curaçao Sea Rescue Organization) in the Caribbean, more than 40 years ago.

The award recognised the many challenges faced by the young organisation. In its early years CITRO relied on yacht and small plane owners to help with search and rescue missions, but it took too long to respond to any emergency call, the yachts were not always sea worthy and not all the yacht owners had the necessary know-how to handle a successful rescue operation.

Over several decades Mr Kooijman has worked hard to share his knowledge, establishing close working relationships with the KNRM (Royal Netherlands Sea Rescue Organisation), which is still part of the CITRO advisory board.

It wasn't until 2001 that CITRO could purchase its first rescue boat, but today CITRO is a professional, growing organization with a solid team of more than 40 dedicated volunteers, who train locally and in Scotland, in partnership with the KNRM.

There’s a fundraising support team, a marketing and PR team and technical team. CITRO has two professional sea rescue vessels, two seadoos, a boathouse, a 24/7 response service, and a signed MOU agreement with the coastguard.

Mr Kooijman was also founder and editor of the Antillean Navigator, a newspaper covering maritime and air news.

He was instrumental to the Caribbean Initiative “CSAR” which works to enhance the safety of life in the waters of the Caribbean by strengthening and establishing volunteer search and rescue units, bringing together the six major islands in the Netherlands Antilles: Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, Saba, Sint Martin, and Saint Eustatius. 

Media Gallery

CITRO - Curaçao

IMRF Awards 2018 - Finalist & Winner - Johannes Kooijman

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Or view Johannes Kooijman's photos in Flickr: 

View the full Media Gallery 2018 here (new window).

When Mr & Mrs Kooijman Arrived Home

When John and Julia Kooijman landed on Curaçao on the 17th November 2018, they were welcomed by two large water canons spraying water over the plane, in honour of John receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award 2018.

The pilot of the plane asked John and Julia to come into the cockpit to watch the descend and landing of the plane, after she made a speech over the intercom to the other 400 passengers about John’s Award winning and background.

Once landed he was met by various people, including the Minister of Transport and Traffic, the board of the Curaçao Maritime Association and the CITRO with a dozen volunteers in uniform.

They haven’t had much rest since. They have been invited and gone to various receptions, where John and Julia were honoured and met by many people. And John's e-mail inbox is swamped with many messages from people congratulating them and wishing them well. 

Watch the Video Below