On a clear and crisp Beijing afternoon, -5 outside the China Ministry of Transport, but things were much warmer inside for a meeting between the IMRF APRC Vice Chairman Michael Vlasto, APRC Board Member and IMRF CEO Bruce Reid, APRC General Manager Mr Zhang Rongjun and the China MOT International Cooperation Department.
Deputy Director General Mr Zhang Xiaojie hosted the meeting also attended by Ms Lv Juan, Division Chief of the International Organization.
The Ministry recently approved 600,000RMB for the APRC to build on the work done by the IMRF on Mass Rescue Operations recognising that MRO is one of the big challenges facing SAR services in the Asia-Pacific Region with many countries facing regular large scale maritime SAR events. Mr Zhang Xiaojie said the support recognises the increasing influence the IMRF APRC has in the Region but also in the wider international SAR community as he commented on the positive role played by the IMRF at the IMO.
The initial contribution funded the 4 day MRO Seminar held at Shanghai Maritime University December 2015, the development of MRO guidance documents and will provide a funding base for the MRO APRC projects and seminars in 2016. The Ministry was also instrumental in getting agreement for a further 300,000 donation through China Rescue and Salvage for 2016.
At the meeting Ms Lv also expressed a number of opportunities to cooperate even further in the future with funding support but also in reaching out to other maritime administrations to encourage them to join the IMRF to build greater cooperation and collaboration but also to find ways of sharing the knowledge and skills of the larger countries with the developing countries, members assisting members.
The meeting concluded with a commitment to build on what has been achieved to date by the APRC, and a willingness from the ministry to assist the IMRF build its presence in the Asia-Pacific Region.
The IMRF APRC delegation then met the Director General of IMRF members China Rescue and Salvage, Mr Wang Zhenliang and his Deputy Mr Zhang Jianxin.
Mr Wang expressed his thanks for the positive APRC Board meeting held the previous day and the exciting work plan being applied in the Region for 2016. CRS continues to evolve and with 30m people on the waters of China every day, waters that experience the best and worst weather can offer, they still have work to do.
Mr Wang also reiterated the ongoing support CRS will continue to give to the APRC through the annual donation, the secondment of two staff and Mr Zhang, who run and manage the Shanghai office and the provision of the APRC office at the Donghai Rescue Bureau.
There was discussion regarding the tragic Easter Star last June which sank killing all but 12 of the 342 on board. CRS is working with the APRC to provide a case study of the accident to pass on lessons learned. The accident occurred 1,000km from the nearest CRS base so provide major logistical challenges just getting to the accident site, the conditions at the time of the accident were extremely difficult, the rescue divers faced low visibility, strong currents and an incredibly difficult riverbed and with three Rescue and Salvage Bureaus responding the coordination of the search and salvage will make an interesting case study.
At the conclusion of the meeting Mr Wang stressed the important role APR has to help bring knowledge and information together to share with SAR organisations across the region. There is also a big need to be sharing technology and equipment developments. CRS will be hosting the CIRSC Conference in Qingdao this year and have included the APRC Regional Development Meeting on the program, which will provide APRC and opportunity to bring SAR organisations from across the region together to continue this sharing.