For the sixth year running, search and rescue (SAR) crew from across Europe will be swapping places with their counterparts to take part in a week-long Lifeboat Crew Exchange organised by the International Maritime Rescue Federation (IMRF).

Representatives from 13 different countries – Germany, Iceland, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, England, France, Portugal, Estonia, the Netherlands, Ireland and Greece – will be taking part, with 11 countries hosting their international colleagues for the specialist seven day programme which will run from 23-30 September 2017.

The participating countries are invited to send between two and seven crew members, each of which then heads to a different European location to work and train with that country’s search and rescue (SAR) team. While there are a few crew members who have taken part before, the vast majority are participating for the first time.

The Lifeboat Crew Exchange which was launched in 2012, includes a variety of day and night exercises including towing, navigating, man overboard recovery, sea survival training, lifeguard training, recovering boats and helicopter transfers. The volunteer crews take part in simulated SAR exercises, as well as completing training modules organised by the host organisation in first aid, navigation, vessel helming techniques, crisis management, leadership and maritime English.

IMRF Chairman and Trustee, Udo Fox, says;

"Our Lifeboat Crew Exchange grows in size and popularity each year, building on the successes of previous years. The week-long training is highly regarded by all those involved and is proven to give the volunteer crews an amazing and valuable opportunity to work as a transnational team, learning new skills and gaining insights into other search and rescue practices and challenges."

The crews taking part collectively commit thousands of hours of their time every year to keep those on the water safe. They will share their experiences and knowledge with others on the exchange programme and with their own crews when they return home, all with the aim of improving Maritime Search and Rescue responses and helping to prevent loss of life in Europe's waters.

Most countries in Europe rely heavily on the maritime volunteer SAR organisations to keep people on the water, safe. The seven-day event helps both volunteers and paid crew with their personal development, allowing them to acquire new skills increasing their value and employability in European rescue activities. Each country’s programme is different reflecting the varying circumstances and challenges in each region.

The exchange runs from Saturday, 23 September 2016 to Saturday, 30 September 2017.