It is with great sadness that we report the passing of Captain Nick Guerchev, Chairman of BULSAR and past winner of the IMRF Vladimir Maksimov Award for Lifetime Achievement in the maritime SAR Sector.

Captain Guerchev was presented with the IMRF Lifetime Achievement Award in 2018,  in recognition of his exceptional contribution to maritime safety in Bulgaria.

Captain Guerchev joined the maritime section of the governmental voluntary defence organisation aged just 14 and went on to join the Navy, completing a post graduate qualification in marine radar and radio communications systems.

He was released from the Navy for political reasons, but in 1996 following political changes, was promoted to lieutenant captain of the reserve, for his modernisation of naval communication systems and social support.

In intervening years, he was the navigating officer of a SAR and SALVAGE vessel, becoming a master on merchant vessels, the technical fleet and ocean fishing vessels.

In 1994, he founded BULSAR, the Bulgarian national volunteer maritime safety society, rising to become its Chairman.

With extensive experience and knowledge of complex marine wreck removal work, submerged technical and divers' emergency operations, he was personally involved in more than 25 major marine disasters along the Bulgarian sea coast and the Danube.

Many of the rescues were extremely complicated and difficult and it’s estimated that he directly and indirectly contributed to the saving over 250 human lives in different accidents and calamities at sea.

Captain Guerchev initiated and organised international drills, contributed towards the purchase and installation of the first two space communication terminals in the Inmarsat system for the Bulgarian Navy, and initiated and organised NAVTEX in the Black Sea countries. 

Over the course of his lifetime, Captain Guerchev helped shape modern legislation for SAR, salvage, and wreck removal and contributed to numerous publications and papers on maritime safety and safety culture, SAR, salvage and wreck removal.