As part of the World Maritime Rescue Congress (WMRC) 2023, host search and rescue (SAR) organisation The Royal Netherlands Sea Rescue Institution (KNRM) arranged an exciting SAR demonstration in Rotterdam harbour. The demonstration involved various rescue organisations and was attended by HRH Princess Margriet of the Netherlands and Professor Mr. Pieter van Vollenhoven, delegates attending WMRC 2023 and the public.

The KNRM created a robust scenario where Multraship Protector (MSP) caught fire in its engine room. The coastguard's AW189 SAR helicopter delivered shore-based firefighters, being part of the Maritime Incident Response Group (MIRG), to the ship to help out.

Several KNRM and international rescue boats participated in the lively demonstration and displayed rescue attempts from life rafts. This simulated the MSP's crew abandoning the ship and being rescued from the life rafts. A vessel of the Rotterdam Port Authority used its fire monitors to simulate firefighting on the MSP.

Crews from the Belgian lifeboat Orinoco and the Swedish Sea Rescue Society's (SSRS’s) rescue boat Casque recovered people from the water using their advanced boarding systems.

The large German Sea Rescue Society's (DGzRS’s) SAR vessel, Herman Marwede, used its powerful fire monitors to demonstrate its fire response capability. Felix Sand, another DGzRS rescue vessel, launched its fast support daughter boat, which sped to the MSP to display its pace and manoeuvrability. These fast support boats are typical on DGzRS’s vessels and launched from a mechanically operated launching ramp with a stern door that drops down for launching. This gives the mother vessel functional small rescue boat capabilities during a rescue operation. 

After the animated SAR demonstration, there was a parade of operational and historical KNRM lifeboats to demonstrate the evolution of rescue boats in the Netherlands over the past 200 years and a reminder of how far maritime SAR has evolved, as well as the impact new and changing technology has on SAR operations.  

The SAR demonstration gave an insight into the complexities of a SAR operation and showcased what SAR personnel deal with.