Anton Tasanen, the first mate of a dry bulk carrier, who won the individual award, for jumping into rough seas to rescue an unconscious crewmate using the vessel's mooring winch.

Philip Wingrove, Orolia/McMurdo
- Regina Catrambone, MOAS - Team Award
- Theresa Crossley, CEO, IMRF

MOAS (the Migrant Offshore Aid Station) won the team award, for the crew of vessel the Phoenix, who prevented the mass drownings of more than 1,800 people in the Mediterranean over just one weekend.

The UK’s RNLI Future Leaders Project Team 2016 won the Innovation & Technology Award for their international programme working with new and developing SAR organisations. The team helps them to build leadership skills, implement processes and enhance training, leading drowning prevention in countries where it’s a major cause of death.

The Association of Maritime and River Rescue in Uruguay (ADES) won the Vladimir Maksimov H.E.R.O. Award for Lifetime Achievement, with special recognition for two volunteers Captain Ramón Sagüés and Engineer Otto Vicente Muzzio who established and built the organisation into the esteemed institution it is today.

The IMRF would like to thank the lead sponsor Orolia/McMurdo, and the sponsors Inmarsat, Pole Star, 8 West Consulting/SafeTrx, Navigate PR, and the host Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) for their wonderful support at the H.E.R.O. Awards 2017.

The IMRF H.E.R.O. Awards have now been presented to a selection of exceptional individuals and organisations, who have demonstrated outstanding bravery, professional expertise and innovation in the world of maritime search and rescue (SAR).

The winners, from around the world, were announced on Thursday, 2 November 2017, at a presentation ceremony held at the RNLI headquarters in Poole, United Kingdom.

Last, but not least, for the first time the IMRF awarded a People’s Choice H.E.R.O. Award to the finalist with the most ‘likes’ on the IMRF’s Facebook page. The Award had been actively promoted through social media to the organisation’s members, stakeholders, friends and families. The successful winner was the Association of Maritime and River Rescue in Uruguay (ADES), who gathered the most ‘likes’ from around the world, before the closing deadline.

Theresa Crossley, CEO IMRF, said: “We have been able to recognise and applaud some exceptional SAR professionals in this year's IMRF H.E.R.O. Awards. The level of selfless bravery and commitment to saving lives at sea demonstrated by our winners and runners up, is both humbling and awe inspiring."

She added: “There are more and more organisations around the world, that are dedicated to preventing loss of life at sea and in inland waters, and the IMRF H.E.R.O. Awards seek to raise awareness of this work and to encourage countries around the world to create and improve their own SAR resources to reduce the number of drowning deaths.


The Winners' Stories

Nessa Malone, 8West Consultancy/SafeTrx
- Anton Tasanen - Award Individual
- Theresa Crossley, CEO, IMRF

Mr Anton Tasanen, winner of the IMRF H.E.R.O. Award for Outstanding Individual Contribution to Maritime SAR. When the merchant ship Prima Donna’s crew were alerted by the man overboard alarm, First Mate Anton Tasanen took charge of the rescue operation on the deck. When he realised that the man overboard was unconscious and the situation was life-threatening, Anton told the crew that he would jump into the sea. In the water he managed to wrap a rope around himself and the man overboard, allowing the crew to use the vessel’s mooring winch to pull them both back onto the ship. In the process of saving the man’s life, he fractured seven of his ribs and broke two more.

MOAS (Migrant Offshore Aid Station) won the IMRF H.E.R.O. Award for Outstanding Team Contribution to Maritime SAR. Over the course of just one weekend in April, MOAS boat the Phoenix and its crew worked tirelessly in rough seas in the Mediterranean to rescue 1,800 desperate people in woefully inadequate boats, preventing many mass drownings and conveying them to safety.

Rebecca Nixon, Pole Star
- RNLI Future Leaders Project Team 2016 - Steve Wills
- Innovation & Technology Award
- Theresa Crossley, CEO, IMRF

RNLI Future Leaders Project Team 2016 won the Award for Innovation & Technology in Maritime SAR. The programme works with new and developing search and rescue organisations to support and train individuals as future leaders of their organisations, helping them to improve organisational practices and behaviour, leading drowning prevention in countries where it is a major cause of death. The course is split into three core themes: individual and organisational leadership, operational service implementation and development, and organisational development, giving the delegates the knowledge and skills required to lead individuals and teams within their organisation. The topics include everything from how to set up and manage an operational SAR station, to delivering appropriate training through to fundraising, financial management, working with stakeholders, marketing and media skills. The structured sessions are facilitated by RNLI subject matter experts and followed by a 12-month mentoring programme.

People's Choice Award & Lifetime Achievement Award
- Claire Sneddon, Navigate PR
- Eduardo Tucci, ADES
- Theresa Crossley, CEO, IMRF

The Vladimir Maksimov H.E.R.O. Award for Lifetime Achievement was awarded to the ADES, Association of Maritime and River Rescue Uruguay, particularly in recognition of two individuals who had been integral to its establishment and development, Captain Ramón Sagüés and Engineer Otto Vicente Muzzio. Captain Sagüés was an invaluable member of the team, serving on multiple lifesaving missions, becoming an effective international ambassador and leading the development of South American maritime search and rescue. Engineer Otto Vicente Muzzio took it upon himself to create an exemplary maritime search and rescue institution, through his passion for the sea and a dedication to lifesaving. Together they have worked to help ADES to become the successful, highly effective and valued organisation that it is today.

The People’s Choice Award was given to ADES, Association of Maritime and River Rescue Uruguay. The organisation had secured the most Facebook ‘likes’ by 1700 hrs GMT on Thursday, 2 November 2017, following a week of promotion across the IMRF’s social media channels, and communications with members.

The RNLI also nominated three Local H.E.R.O.s recognising the outstanding contribution of three long service lifeboat volunteers.

James Vaughan, RNLI
- Local H.E.R.O. Awards
- Rod and Carole Brown & Richard Tollett
- Theresa Crossley, CEO, IMRF

Richard Tollett, Rye Harbour RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager retired on Friday 21 July at the age 70, after almost 50 years of service. During this time he was involved with 1,130 launches, rescuing a record 932 people and saving 189 lives.

Meanwhile, Rod and Carole Brown have volunteered and fundraised tirelessly for Poole Lifeboat Station, for over 24 years. Rod held the role of Lifeboat Operation Manager managing the operational activities at the lifeboat station and authorising the launch of a lifeboat while Carole worked as treasurer providing Rod with full support.

The H.E.R.O. Awards 2017 were supported by lead sponsor Orolia/McMurdo - global leader in emergency response and readiness - and sponsors Inmarsat, global satellite owner and operator, which provides mobile and fixed communications services to the maritime industry; Pole Star, which has been proudly serving the maritime sector by increasing safety and security at sea for 20 years; 8 West Consulting, the company that developed SafeTrx, the vessel tracking smartphone application; and Navigat.e PR, who deliver professional corporate communications services to the global maritime industry.

View all the photos of the H.E.R.O. Awards 2017 Ceremory, please visit the H.E.R.O. Awards 2017 Gallery.