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14th September 2021

The IMRF Awards 2021 winners announced

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This year’s winners of the IMRF Awards have been announced in an online Awards Ceremony held today, Tuesday 14 September.  Established to recognise search and rescue (SAR) professionals around the world for their outstanding actions, skills, expertise and commitment or an innovation/technology that transforms SAR activities, the awards are widely recognised and highly valued across the SAR community.

The winners of the IMRF Awards 2021 are:

The IMRF Award for Outstanding Individual Contribution to Maritime SAR Operations

The winner is Captain Chen Jian, master of the “Donghai Jiu 101” with China Rescue and Salvage who was nominated for his search and rescue missions undertaken in the Yangtze River estuary, most notably a rescue mission conducted on 13 December 2020, in appalling conditions to rescue 16 crew members after the sinking of their container ship.

The IMRF Award for Outstanding Team Contribution to Maritime SAR Operations

The winner is Coastguard Nelson, which was nominated for a rescue mission which took place in the Cook Strait Channel, New Zealand. The team responded to a mayday call from a 12-tonne sailing yacht which had lost its steering and autopilot while sailing in treacherous conditions.

The runner up in this category was the KNRM (The Royal Netherlands Sea Rescue Institution) Lifeboat Station Scheveningen, nominated for its role in an extreme incident that occurred near the breakwaters of the Scheveningen harbour on 11 May 2020.   Two lifeboat crews worked tirelessly to save and then retrieve the bodies of five surfers and swimmers who found themselves engulfed in three to four meters of suffocating sea foam (caused by algae and high seas).

The #WomenInSAR Award

This year there are two joint winners, Anna Bertrandsson Littke from the Swedish Sea Rescue Society (SSRS) and Krista Lynn Elvidge from the Canadian Coast Guard.
Anna Bertrandsson Littke is the National Volunteer Coordinator for the SSRS covering 73 stations and 2300 volunteers.  She has been nominated for her role as an inspiring driving force, encouraging positive cultural change on an individual, station, community, and national organizational level. 

Krista Lynn Elvidge, is currently the Regional Supervisor, Maritime SAR at the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre, Halifax covering an enormous SAR region.  She is described as a leader in maritime SAR on Canada’s Atlantic coast for over 20 years, embodying the spirit, work ethic and intelligence necessary to make a difference in the maritime SAR world.

Commander Maritime Dr Suzanna Razali Chan, Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency was the runner up in this category.  Cmdr.Chan is the Principal Assistant Director in the Search and Rescue & Disaster Relief Division at the Malaysia Coast Guard Headquarters. Highly trained and qualified, she is a role model for both women and men and has become one of the leading MSAR specialists in Malaysia.

The IMRF Award for Innovation & Technology in Maritime SAR

The winner is the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) in South Africa, for their new JetRIB which is a combination of a four stroke Yamaha VX1050 Jet Ski with an extension hull and Hypalon pontoons for rescues in the surf.

The runner up in this category is the LARUS Project run by TU Dortmund University, which has developed and extensively tested an unmanned aerial system, specifically adapted to the needs of the maritime SAR services.

Finally, the Vladimir Maksimov Award for Lifetime Achievement has been awarded to Patrick van Eyssen.  He joined the NSRI aged 19 and this year celebrates 50 years as a volunteer, 48 of those years he’s been a coxswain, and twice station commander of the Cape Town Station 3 Sea Rescue base. Over his SAR career, he’s clocked up 2569.25 hrs as a volunteer and taken part in 167 rescue operations most of which he has led as the Class 1 on scene commander.

Theresa Crossley, CEO, IMRF says: “We send our heartfelt congratulations to all of our winners and runners up.  This years’ awards were extremely close with strong candidates in all the categories, demonstrating that despite the global pandemic and lockdowns around the world, search and rescue professionals and volunteers are never truly ‘off-duty’. Their skills, expertise, determination, commitment and resilience continue to save lives every day, all around the world.”

Theresa continues: “Now the general public and the SAR community get to vote for their overall winner, as today we are launching the IMRF People’s Choice Awards 2021 sponsored by Navigate PR. It’s very simple, anyone can vote for as many nominations as they think are deserving.  All the nominations stories for our shortlisted winners and runners up will be posted on our facebook page. The nomination with the most ‘Likes’ and ‘Shares’ by 23:59 BST on Friday 8 October, will be the IMRF Awards 2021, People’s Choice winner. The result will be announced on 14 October, at our online European Regional Meeting.”

The IMRF Awards 2021 judges were Michael Vlasto, the former IMRF Chair and Chair of the Awards Judging Panel, Jared Blows, MRCC Chief, MRCC Cape Town, South Africa, Nigel Clifford, Deputy Director, Safety and Response Systems, Maritime New Zealand and Julie-Anne Wood, Assistant Director, Policy, Standards & International, UK Maritime & Coastguard Agency. 

This year - because of the pandemic – the nomination period has covered both 2020 and 2021 and the winners were announced at an online awards ceremony on YouTube on Tuesday 14 September at 1200hrs BST.

The IMRF is very grateful to all its Award sponsors for their support:

  • Inmarsat, sponsor of The Vladimir Maksimov Award for Lifetime Achievement - Inmarsat is the world leader in global mobile satellite communications and has been providing safety communications at sea since its inception by the International Maritime Organization in 1979 (
  • Pole Star, sponsor of the IMRF Award for Innovation and Technology - Pole Star develops pioneering maritime intelligence technologies turning complex data into accessible insight across regulatory conformance, sanctions screening, trade compliance, tracking, monitoring, and ship security (
  • HamiltonJet, sponsor of the #WomenInSAR Award – the company’s waterjet and control systems deliver manoeuvrable, reliable and safe prolusion for SAR vessels.  HamiltonJet has worked with the maritime SAR sector for many decades, making and developing waterjet propulsion systems which can dramatically increase the range of conditions a SAR boat can operate in (
  • The Sun Glory Marine Company, sponsors of the IMRF Team Award - Sun Glory is committed to providing safe and complete towing services for ships sailing on international routes, domestic coastal routes and inland waterways.
  • Navigate PR sponsors the IMRF People’s Choice Award - Navigate delivers professional corporate communications services to the global maritime industry. (



  • 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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