Maritime search and rescue

When disaster strikes on the water, many low- and middle-income countries lack the resources, training and coordination to reach people in time.

Ferry accidents, under-equipped fishing fleets, or even a growing local tourism industry can rapidly increase demand for search and rescue (SAR) services worldwide. In 2011 for example, the Spice Islander ferry sank off the coast of Zanzibar - it’s thought that over 1,500 people drowned.

Tanzania Sea Rescue volunteers onboard their inshore lifeboat

Photo: RNLI

Tanzania Sea Rescue patrol the coastline off Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

Sharing over 190 years of search and rescue expertise

For many years we’ve worked with fellow SAR teams across the world to share ideas and training. More recently we’ve welcomed professionals and volunteers from countries including Morocco, Indonesia and Brazil on our Future Leaders in Lifesaving course.

Now, the maritime search and rescue intervention gives organisations everything they need to plan and develop a SAR service in their own country, from risk assessments and resource planning to training and operations.

Children in Fiji return from school by boat

Photo: Zackary Canepari

Children in Fiji return from school by boat.

The difference we’re making

Tanzania: A new service for Dar es Salaam

Tanzania Sea Rescue (TSR) contacted us in 2015 for guidance on setting up Tanzania’s first lifeboat rescue service, and the RNLI has been supporting them with training and mentoring ever since. The volunteers now provide search and rescue in the Msasani Bay area of Dar es Salaam. They have already completed several rescues, including to broken down ships and sinking sailing boats (dhows).

Three TSR volunteers joined our 2017 Future Leaders programme, which will help the organisation to grow and become self-sustaining in the future.

‘That’s what inspires me, but there’s something else that moved me to work with Tanzania Sea Rescue. A friend of mine lost his life after the boat he was travelling in capsized in a very busy area, where he could have been rescued. But nothing happened, and he lost his life.’

Lesvos: Empowering a community to save more lives

When the refugee crisis on the Aegean Sea reached its peak in 2015, the International Maritime Rescue Federation asked us to provide support to the Hellenic Rescue Team, a volunteer rescue organisation that operates across the Aegean.

Since then, we’ve been supporting the team’s volunteers on Lesvos with equipment, two Atlantic 75 lifeboats and training on how to operate them safely.

Hellenic Rescue Team crew onboard their inshore lifeboat

Photo: RNLI/Aram Atkinson

Hellenic Rescue Team crew members onboard their inshore lifeboat.

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Our international vision is of a world in which no-one should drown. Could you help us towards this vision?

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