The very first IMRF Lifeboat Crew Exchange took place in 2012 and, over the last eight years, some twelve organisations have hosted a total of 519 people from 19 countries for the week-long exchange in September.

This year, because of the global pandemic, the Lifeboat Crew Exchange could not take place as usual. Instead, Lifeboat Crew Exchange 2020 was held virtually, in the shape of two webinars held on 22 and 24 September 2020. 

The first webinar, chaired by Oliver Mallinson from the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), took as its theme: Learning from each other.  

The Swedish Sea Rescue Society discussed the lessons learnt from the capsize of an 8m SRU during a towing operation and the RNLI provided a training video explaining ILB towing techniques.

The speakers included Captain Udo Helge Fox, CEO, German Maritime SAR Service (DGzRS) who talked about a berthing manoeuvre where two crew members fell overboard, seriously injuring one person and damaging the vessel. Sylvain Moynault, Inspector General, South Atlantic, Les Sauveteurs En Mer (SNSM) discussed actions taken across his organisation to instil a learning culture following several safety line failures.

Similarly, Marko Stenberg, Head of Operation, CSO, Finnish Lifeboat Institution talked about the importance of having an effective accident reporting system across the organisation, particularly for near misses.

The second webinar, chaired by Matthew Fader, from the Swedish Sea Rescue Society (SSRS), took as its theme: Equipment, Innovation and Technology.

The SSRS took the opportunity to showcase the new 15 metre Hallberg Rassy Class rescue boat, explaining why it had been selected to join the organisation's fleet.

Lex Vredeveldt, senior naval architect, collaborating with Royal Netherlands Sea Rescue Institution (KNRM), discussed his research into shock mitigation on fast boats and finding ways to minimise the health risks for coxswain and crewmembers driving lifeboats at high speeds. 

Finally, Jaakko Heikkilä, Head of Training, Finnish Lifeboat Institution broadcast live to the attendees, demonstrating the organisation's boat-class cockpit simulator and how it could be used to train crew in bridge resource management.

More than 270 people registered for the webinars, far more people than would have been able to participate in the traditional Crew Exchange programme. 

Attendees came from across the globe, from as far afield as Canada, Ghana, Russia and Tonga. 

Theresa Crossley, CEO, IMRF says: "One thing that's definitely become clear that, while this may not our preferred way to run the Lifeboat Crew Exchange, the webinars have made it accessible to many more of our members, regardless of where they are based. The presentations were engaging, with a mix of slides, video and live feed content, with the opportunity to ask questions and to view the whole content again if desired. We asked the attendees at the end, if they had found it useful and would be interested in more webinars and the response was overwhelmingly positive and encouraging. Overall, the webinars have involved many more of our members than the traditional Lifeboat Crew Exchange could ever reach and, because they were recorded, they have left a lasting resource for our members to use - that's something we definitely will learn from and use again.  My thanks to all our presenters, chairman and attendees for being willing to try out this different medium and for contributing so much to its success.”

Both webinars can be viewed in full in the Members Only area of the website. 

As promised, the answers to any questions raised during the webinars, are being collated and will also be posted in the same area of the website very shortly.

Hopefully – COVID-19 permitting - the Lifeboat Crew Exchange will be back as usual next year.

Click here to register your interest for 2021.