IMRF Awards

Lifeboat Station Scheveningen, KNRM

Runner Up for the IMRF Award for Outstanding Team Contribution to Maritime SAR Operations


The KNRM Lifeboat Station Scheveningen has been nominated for its role in an extreme incident that occurred near the breakwaters of the Scheveningen harbour on 11 May 2020.

The crews of the Beluga and the Kitty Roosmale Nepveu lifeboats, supported by the KNRM’s Scheveningen beach truck, worked tirelessly for days in a situation that posed a great danger to themselves.

On 11 May, unexpected and unusual conditions off the coast of Scheveningen combined to create exceptionally high seas and banks of foam (algae) in the surf.

Swimmers and surfers found themselves engulfed in huge amounts of foam, estimated to be three to four metres high/thick. A northerly wind and high surf meant that five experienced swimmers and surfers were unable to steer clear of the suffocating bank of foam.

When it became clear that the group was in distress, a red alert was raised with the land emergency services (ambulance, fire brigade, police) and the Scheveningen rescue boats. Both the Beluga and the Kitty Roosmale Nepveu lifeboats and their volunteers were on the scene within minutes of the alarm being sounded.

The conditions in the high surf were too rough for the smaller rescue boat Beluga. Earlier that day, the skipper had already established that, because of to the sea conditions, any new alarms that day would have to be left to the larger lifeboat. However, the urgency of the alert made him decide to respond.

Twice the Beluga seemed to capsize and, when a heavy breaker crashed into the small boat, the skipper reluctantly abandoned their attempt to help.

The larger harbour rescue boat, Kitty Roosmale Nepveu was better equipped to cope with the dangerous conditions. The crew thought that the victims were close to, against, or even between the blocks of the pier head and so the skipper had to manoeuvre the rescue boat within a few meters of the basalt blocks, with the risk that the boat would be thrown onto the rocks by the oncoming surf.

The complex manoeuvre took a long time and although the rescuers had the victims in sight, one disappeared before the rescuers' eyes into the suffocating foam.

Two men were rescued from the sea within a few minutes and both were quickly dropped off at the rescue boat dock, where other volunteers from the rescue station immediately proceeded to perform CPR.

A third victim was retrieved conscious from the water by the crew of the Beluga, just before the small lifeboat was forced to end the search. The victim was brought ashore and taken care of by an ambulance that had arrived at the scene.

The boathouse at the KNRM Scheveningen rescue station was converted into a crisis centre, where emergency services could consult and coordinate and any victims and their relatives could be received.

Later in the evening, the search was called off and any further hope of finding survivors had to be abandoned. The volunteer crew went home for a short night's rest and at the crack of dawn resumed the search for any bodies.

The first two rescued victims sadly died, the bodies of two more victims were recovered on the second day, while the search for the last victim lasted for six days before his body was located and recovered.


Photo Gallery

IMRF Awards 2021 - Lifeboat Station Scheveningen

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Videos

IMRF Awards 2021 - Lifeboat Station Scheveningen, KNRM - Several Surfers missing in Scheveningen IMRF Awards 2021 - Lifeboat Station Scheveningen, KNRM - We zijn tot het uiterste gegaan om die mensen uit het water te halen- - OMROEP WEST

IMRF Awards 2021 - Team Award IMRF Awards 2021 - The Final Results