In the challenging world of maritime search and rescue (SAR), individuals emerge, each facing unique challenges but united by a shared commitment to saving lives at sea.  One such individual is Captain Xu Fan, a distinguished helicopter captain and Operations Director at Beihai Flying Rescue Service (BFRS) in China.

In the heart of China's northern waters, Xu Fan shoulders dual responsibilities at BFRS. "My main responsibility is to accomplish maritime SAR missions but I also have to ensure the daily functions of BFRS run seamlessly, adhering to all the required regulations and safety standards,” Xu noted.

Inspiration often stems from personal experiences, and Xu‘s journey into SAR was triggered by a profound event.  Reflecting on the tragic sinking of the Da Shun passenger ship in 1999, he recalls, "I was deeply shocked by the shipwreck."  This shock transformed into a driving force as he joined BFRS to contribute his skills and experiences to help those in need.

In the hazardous domain of SAR, training is the linchpin of preparedness and Xu Fan emphasises its significance. "Training is essential for all rescue personnel," he asserts.  Rigorous exercises, including simulations of shipwrecks and distress scenarios, ensure that Xu and his team are always prepared.

Xu recounts the 2010 Shengli Oilfield No. 3 Operation Platform mission, where he set a record for the largest number of people rescued in a single flight sortie of helicopter SAR operation in China.  Evacuating 25 workers with the helicopter fuel reaching critical levels, it remains etched as the most challenging mission he's faced.

Another testing operation in his career took place in March 2022 when Xu led the response to the Zhongjian 33 incident "As the captain of the helicopter involved in Zhongjian 33 task, I lead the whole rescue operation.  My responsibility was leading the crew to respond to the incident quickly," he narrates. Overcoming the challenges posed by the cargo ship swaying nearly 40 degrees, Xu orchestrated a mission that exemplified effective SAR operations.

Finalist for the IMRF's Individual of the Year Award in 2023, Xu Fan humbly acknowledges the recognition. "It is a great honour for me to be a finalist for the IMRF’s Individual of the Year Award.  To be recognised for my role in SAR  is a testament to the hard work and dedication that my team and I put into our SAR efforts.”

Grateful for the recognition, Xu extends his commitment to future SAR undertakings. "My team and I will continue to contribute to the maritime SAR undertakings in the future with dedication, teamwork, and professional excellence."  

Xu Fan and BFRS stand as a testament to courage, selflessness, and unwavering commitment in the face of adversity.