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1st August 2019

The IMRF Awards 2019 shortlist is announced

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International shortlist showcases skills and commitment to saving lives at sea across the sector and around the world

The judges for the International Maritime Rescue Federation Awards 2019 have announced their shortlist, following careful consideration of the range of extremely compelling entries from around the world. Designed to honour the outstanding commitment of dedicated Search & Rescue (SAR) professionals and volunteers everywhere, the Awards also aim to raise awareness of search and rescue techniques, technologies and equipment that can improve SAR capability for the future.

The finalists in the four Award categories are as follows:

Outstanding Individual Contribution to Maritime SAR Operations - Daisy Gallardo, President of Cuerpo de Voluntarios de los Botes Salvavidas de Puerto Montt, Chile and Captain HUANG Zhibin from Donghai No.2 Flying Service of East Sea Rescue Bureau,Fujian Province, China. Mrs Gallardo leads a volunteer SAR organisation, which she joined at 16, rising to become the first woman to be elected as President of any SAR organisation in Chile in 2016. Captain HUANG led a complex helicopter rescue in a super typhoon, involving a cargo ship with nine crew stranded onboard.

Outstanding Team Contribution to Maritime SAR Operations - Marine Rescue Port Macquarie in Australia and Coastguard New Zealand.  The team from Marine Rescue Port Macquarie successfully conducted a multiagency rescue when a 10m motor cruiser hit rocks at speed, resulting in severe injuries to all three passengers. Coastguard New Zealand successfully managed a large, complex multi-agency search and rescue operation to save a man, woman and a child thrown into freezing water when their small boat flipped over.

Innovation and Technology in the Field of Maritime SAR - The finalists are a floating rescue stretcher, designed to safely carry an immobilised patient over rocks and through surf (designed by a team at the South African National Sea Rescue Institute) and the work on using drones and other remotely controlled assets to improve future search and rescue operations (led by Phillip Hanson, from the UK’s Maritime Coastguard Agency).

The Vladimir Maksimov Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Maritime SAR Sector - Arthur Allen of the US Coast Guard and Clay Evans of the Canadian Coast Guard.  Both men have each contributed more than 30 years of service in their respective organisations and have been responsible for saving countless lives.

In addition, for the first time, the IMRF will be announcing a Women in SAR Award. The Award is part of the IMRF’s wider #WomenInSAR initiative in support of the IMO’s Empowering Women in Maritime campaign.  The Award will recognise someone who is an inspirational role model for others. The two shortlisted finalists for this inaugural Award are:  Captain SONG Yin of the Donghai No.1 Rescue Flying Service in China and Isobel Tugwell, a crew member at the RNLI Shoreham Lifeboat Station in the UK.  Captain SONG joined the Rescue Flying Service after graduating from Shanghai Maritime University in 2008 and has gained extensive flying and technical experience to become one of China’s first female search and rescue helicopter captains.  Isobel joined the Shoreham lifeboat crew at 17 and has been taking a full part in SAR operations ever since – even while she was studying for her A levels.

Theresa Crossley, IMRF CEO said: “I am very pleased to announce this exceptional shortlist for the IMRF Awards 2019 and for the very first time – the finalists for the Women in SAR Award. 
“The calibre of all the nominations continues to inspire and amaze the judges. All around the world there are breath-taking search and rescue operations being conducted in harrowing conditions with SAR professionals using their skill and expertise to save lives in remarkable circumstances.  Here are just some of those people, selected today as our finalists.”

The IMRF will also be inviting the public to vote for their preferred winner – the one that they think stands out above all others - of the IMRF’s People’s Choice Award.  More details on how to vote for this Award will be released shortly, so watch this space!

The winners of all the Awards will be announced at a presentation ceremony on 10 September, onboard HQS Wellington, during London International Shipping Week. The Awards will be presented by Vice-Admiral Sir Tim Laurence KCVO CB ADC.

The judges of the IMRF Awards 2019 are: Michael Vlasto (Former IMRF Chair and Chair of the Awards Judging Panel); Pat Quealey (immediate past CEO, Royal Canadian Marine Search & Rescue); Nigel Clifford (General Manager Safety and Response, Maritime New Zealand); Jared Blows (Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre Chief, MRCC Cape Town, South Africa); Stein Solberg (formerly of JRCC Stavanger, Norway).

The IMRF is grateful for the kind support of its sponsors. 
Inmarsat, the global satellite owner and operator providing mobile and fixed communications services to the maritime industry, is sponsoring the Vladimir Maksimov Lifetime Achievement Award and the Women In SAR Award (, CM Hammar, whose vision is to substantially reduce loss of life at sea by creating better solutions for safety at sea is sponsoring the Team Award ( Pole Star, which has been proudly serving the maritime sector by increasing safety and security at sea for 20 years, is sponsoring the Innovation and Technology Award. ( Navigate PR is sponsoring The People’s Choice Award (

About the IMRF

The International Maritime Rescue Federation (IMRF) brings the world's maritime search and rescue organisations together in one global and growing family, to share knowledge and improve maritime SAR coordination and response so more people in distress on the sea can be saved. IMRF's member organisations share their lifesaving ideas, technologies and experiences and freely cooperate with one another to achieve their common humanitarian aim: "Preventing loss of life in the world's waters".

The International Maritime Rescue Federation was founded (as the International Lifeboat Federation) in 1924. In 1985 it was granted non-governmental consultative status with the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in recognition of the good work being undertaken and the growing need for an organisation to act as a global focal point for maritime search and rescue. In 2003 it was registered as an independent charity and in 2007 the organisation was renamed the International Maritime Rescue Federation (IMRF), reflecting the broader scope of modern maritime search and rescue activity.

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