pole star logo pole star logo

IMRF Awards 2018 Shortlist Announced

The International Maritime Rescue Federation (IMRF) has announced the finalists for their 2018 awards, recognising some of the exceptional individuals and organisations around the world who go above and beyond in maritime search and rescue (SAR).

The IMRF Awards aim to recognise some of the exceptional individuals and organisations around the world that make maritime search and rescue (SAR) possible.

The IMRF Awards (formerly known as the H.E.R.O. Awards) are now in their third year and have proved a great success, raising awareness of the excellent work done by those involved in the maritime SAR community, including highlighting innovative new SAR products and technologies.

Nominations received from around the world, across all maritime sectors, but following considerable discussion, the judges have now released their shortlist for the four award categories. Theresa Crossley, CEO IMRF says; “We’re delighted to announce this years’ finalists. The nominations have been varied and interesting and the judges’ selection highlights just some of the incredible actions, expertise and skills, shown by those saving lives at sea in exceptional circumstances.”

The four categories and their respective finalists are as follows:

  • Outstanding Individual Award: Recognises an outstanding contribution by an individual in a maritime SAR operation, and is sponsored by CM Hammar. 
    • Alexander Menzel from Surf Life Rescue in Germany is the first finalist. Mr Menzel is a trained lifeguard, who established the Surf Life Rescue Association in Germany with a group of friends to cover the entire scope of water rescue in 2015.  The organisation has grown to more than 350 members across Europe and in 2017 alone handled more than 170 rescue missions.  
    • Captain Siddarth Sharma, a ship's master from Mumbai, India is the second finalist. Captain Sharma was nominated for his role in the rescue of two French fishermen who had been drifting for three days on a sinking fishing boat. He spotted the seafarers from the bridge of his vessel when they were 2.5km away and immediately diverted his ship to rescue them. 
  • Team Award: Recognises outstanding team contribution to a maritime SAR operation, and is sponsored by Orolia Maritime. 
    • The Canadian Coast Guard Volunteer Rescue Specialists have provided direct medical assistance to many in need in the Pacific, Arctic and Atlantic Oceans, and run a valuable training program giving shipboard crew the skills to provide advanced pre-hospital care to the sick and injured at sea. 
    • The KNRM Terschelling Paal 8 (Royal Netherlands Sea Rescue Organisation) have been nominated for their actions in two SAR operations conducted in extreme weather conditions last year. In one instance, the team rescued four people from a guard vessel drifting without any power, and the second for a rescue of a stranded fishing vessel in treacherous icy conditions.
  • Innovation & Technology Award: Recognises innovation and technology in maritime search and rescue, and is sponsored by Pole Star. 
    • The first finalist is RescueNET, a new and unique secure web-based safety service from Inmarsat which is provided free to Maritime Rescue Coordination Centres worldwide. It helps reduce response time and improves SAR communications between all the vessels and rescue coordination centres involved in a rescue mission.
    • The second is the NSRI’s Pink Rescue Buoy. This is an emergency flotation device which can be thrown to someone in danger of drowning, before the lifeguard or emergency services arrive. The flotation device is highly visible, equipped with a harness and improves survival rates, while signage displays the closest emergency services number and location.
  • The Vadim Maksimov Award for Lifetime Achievement: Recognises outstanding contibution to maritime search and rescue, and is sponsored by Inmarsat.
    • Johannes Martinus Kooijman, the first finalist, founded CITRO (Curacao Sea Rescue Organisation) in 1965. Relying on seaplanes and yacht owners until 2001, he has built a close working relationship with the KNRM (Royal Netherlands Sea Rescue Organisation). CITRO now has over 40 volunteers, fundraising, marketing and PR support teams, a technical team and many sea going volunteers, plus two professional sea rescue vessels, two seadoo's, a boathouse, a 24/7 response service, and a signed MOU agreement with the coastguard.
    • The next finalist is Captain Nick Guerchev, Chairman and founder of BULSAR, the Bulgarian national volunteer maritime safety society. He's been involved in maritime safety since the age of 14 when he joined the maritime section of the governmental voluntary organization for defence. A career in the Navy and Merchant Navy followed, where he specialised in SAR, salvage and communications. He's personally been involved in SAR operations surrounding more than 25 major maritime disasters and contributed to the saving of more than 250 lives at sea

All of the winners of the IMRF Awards 2018 will be announced at the IMRF Awards ceremony and dinner on Thursday 8 November.

The event will be hosted by the Norwegian Society for Sea Rescue (RS) at their new high-tech training centre, RS Noatun near Horten in Norway, following the IMRF’s annual European Regional Meeting. The event’s hosts will also present an IMRF Local Hero Award 2018, which will be awarded to an exceptional SAR individual from Norway, nominated by the Norwegian Society for Sea Rescue.

The judges of the IMRF Awards 2018 are; Michael Vlasto, Former IMRF Chair and Chair of the Awards Judging Panel, Nigel Clifford, General Manager Safety and Response, Maritime New Zealand, Jared Blows, MRCC (Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre) Chief, MRCC Cape Town, South Africa, Stein Solberg, JNCC Stavanger, Norway, Gwynne Lewis, Maritime Product Line Director, Orolia, Nicolai Jarlsby, President, Norwegian Society for Sea Rescue.


The Innovation and Technology Award is proudly sponsored by Pole Star. 

“As a testament to Pole Star’s dedication to increasing maritime safety and security, we are delighted to be sponsoring the Innovation & Technology H.E.R.O. award for the second year running. Since our inception 20 years ago, we have worked alongside governments, search and rescue operations, naval operations, and shipping companies, and are thrilled to have the opportunity to honour those who put their lives at risk every day, to go above and beyond the call of duty in saving lives at sea"  said Julian Longson, Managing Director of Pole Star.