Hellenic Rescue Team (HRT) Rescue Boats Zeta and Chiara Handover Ceremony Held in Kos.
Rescue boats Zeta and Chiara were officially delivered from DGzRS (German Maritime Search and Rescue Service) to HRT in a beautiful ceremony held in Kos, Greece, on Sunday, 12 November 2017.
The two vessels were donated to HRT in June and November 2016 – Chiara arrived first and Zeta followed.Since then they have been operated in Kos by the HRT volunteers on the island, supporting the Hellenic Coastguard. Zeta and Chiara arrived in Kos in a time when HRT’s rescue station did not have any means to deliver search and rescue missions at sea, in order to save the refugees who were trying to cross the Aegean.
Since then, the small, but enthusiastic, group of HRT volunteers have performed 17 rescue missions, under the command of the Coastguard, and have helped more than 200 people to reach the shore safely.
“When we first came to Greece two years ago, we saw ordinary people doing something extraordinary”, said Udo Fox, Chairman of the IMRF and CEO of DGzRS. He continued:
We saw a country suffering from an economic crisis, facing a humanitarian crisis of such a dimension. Nobody would think this could happen in Europe. Reading the news, or watching TV, is one thing. Being personally involved is a totally different story. We were impressed by the altruistic attitude that Greece widely showed.
With regard to DGzRS and HRT cooperation he also said: “HRT has undergone an impressive transition, achieved a lot, but still it is only at the beginning of a long and laborious journey. Today we are happy to officially hand over two sturdy rescue boats to HRT, and we are proud of what has been achieved jointly by HRT and our organization. But the story is not yet over. In 2018 we plan to invite HCG and HRT to our simulator training center in Bremen for state of the art training on SAR operations planning, coordination and conduct in compliance with international standards of the International Maritime Organisation and the International Maritime Rescue Federation."
Closing his speech, Udo Fox wished HRT good luck in the future and expressed his hope to see the organisation growing up and becoming a professional volunteer organization recognized by civil society and the Government as valued guardian angels for all sea farers in these waters.
Nikolaus Stadeler, CEO of DGzRS, also attended the ceremony and greetings were addressed by the HRT President, Danai-Foteini Mavroudi and Nektarios Chatzidakis, Head of HRT Water Rescue Department. The mayor of Kos, the president of Kos marina, local authorities and volunteers from other organisations, amongst which members of the Turkish Rescue Team Muğla 911, were also present. Of course, all the HRT Kos volunteers and crews were there to welcome the guests and present the rescue boats to the people of Kos.
The donation of Chiara and Zeta was followed by a six-month training programme provided by DGzRS trainers, who visited Kos once a month and provided three day training sessions on boat operation, navigation, towing and more.
Since 2015, when the refugee crisis reached its peak in Greece, HRT has been offered 13 rescue boats and 2 rescue runners from IMRF members in Europe (RS, SSRS, KNRM, RNLI and DGzRS) to enhance its operating capability at sea. However, the assistance was not limited to boats.
IMRF Members have been providing training courses, rescue equipment and mentoring to the volunteers and staff of HRT, transforming the Hellenic Rescue Team into a new and professional maritime SAR organisation.
The journey is still long and full of challenges, but HRT is grateful to all the organisations and to the people working there, who have been putting so much effort in supporting the Hellenic Rescue Team and Greece.