The IMRF’s programme to support global SAR development has helped the Benin Maritime Prefecture upgrade its headquarters in Cotonou, from maritime rescue sub-centre (MRSC) to full national maritime rescue coordination centre (MRCC). 

Cotonou is the largest city in Benin and the port is one of the largest in West Africa, the country occupies an important strategic position with heavy water traffic water, which means the upgrade will benefit a significant number of people.  

The Maritime Prefecture in Benin is a relatively new governmental organisation tasked with managing the country’s operational maritime affairs, and is keen to develop and enhance its capabilities, particularly for saving lives at sea. 

Benin now acts as the national MRCC for the wider Nigeria region, as well as the regional sub-centre, operating 24/7 to provide full cover, with much closer cooperation between stakeholders such as the maritime administration, national police and air force. 

The new MRCC is fully equipped according to IMO guidance on minimum communication needs of Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centres and basic standards in terms of coordination tools and required SAR documentation. 

Mohammed Drissi, the IMRF Regional Coordinator for Africa has delivered training on GMDSS, running the MRCC function and basic SAR operations for twenty-nine SAR representatives from across the region. 

He also provided five days of training for both the Head and Deputy Head of the RSC Benin.

The Head of RSC Benin received further advanced training at the Rabat MRCC focused on the organization and SAR operations, including SAR patterns, choice of assets to use and recovery techniques.  

All the local SAR coordinators have received training on using the new equipment for GMDSS and SAR operations as well as explanations of each stakeholder role and task within the SAR system and the SAR mission. 

Mohammed Drissi said: "I am very pleased to help facilitate Benin’s upgrade to national MRCC. Through the training I was able to meet many of the SAR organizations in Benin and to assess the existing SAR infrastructure and training needs. We have explained the role of the MRCC to all the stakeholders and have secured widespread support for the national SAR coordinator and the MRCC moving forward."

"We are very grateful to the IMRF for choosing Benin to implement the African MRCC project which came at the right time. This project is a big step which will allow the country to join the SAR community and comply with international requirements in terms of saving lives at sea. We are proud to say that Benin with the support of the IMRF, is now able to provide Search and Rescue Services throughout its maritime waters. Merci beaucoup IMRF," added LV Rostan, Head of MRCC Cotonou, Benin.