London, Monday, 30 March 2015. Subject-matter experts, managers, coordinators, crews and other professionals from the maritime search and rescue (SAR) community will be discussing issues ranging from migrants and social media to satellite navigation systems and organisational development at the International Maritime Rescue Federation's World Maritime Rescue Conference in Germany in June.
The event, to be held in Bremerhaven from 1 to 4 June 2015, will be hosted by the German Maritime Search and Rescue Service (DGzRS), and is a must for maritime organisations involved, or likely to become involved, in SAR on the world's waters.
Organised by the IMRF, which has 112 member organisations from around the world, the Congress is held every four years. The last event took place in Shanghai, China, in 2011 and was a great success. The Bremerhaven Congress is expected to be the biggest yet with 60 presenters and 16 workshops planned.
The keynote speech on the first day will be delivered by Paul Boissier, Chief Executive of the UK and Ireland's Royal National Lifeboat Institution. He will talk about defining SAR organisations' vision, explaining the process the RNLI has used to help define its future as an example.
He will cite vision, values and 'DNA' as the three tools needed to help define a SAR organisation's ambitions, behaviours and scope and to describe the enterprise-wide continuous improvement programme adopted by the RNLI to help it through a process of change and refinement.
The theme of Konstantinas Mitrages, General Secretary of the Hellenic Rescue Team, will be migrants who are trying to enter Europe by sea in old and unseaworthy boats. He will explain how organisations like his that are engaged in water rescue operations are trying their best to support the coast guards and help save lives at sea – but how limited means are making this increasingly difficult.
On a more positive note, he will argue that a group of rescue teams with the same philosophy, good communication and common, intensive training under the umbrella of the IMRF and the European countries concerned could be a significant force and save more lives in the Mediterranean Sea.
Social media have become a threat as well as a positive force for maritime search and rescue. Hamid Raza Akrami from the Ports and Maritime Organisation in Iran will make clear that the international nature of, and keen interest in, maritime transport makes it more vulnerable to social media.
But he will also outline how social media can empower maritime crisis management teams and how the fast and continuous delivery of information can help teams communicate with key audiences involved in the crisis, as well as keeping the news media informed.
Samir Abd Elghany Megahed Mahdaly from the Arab Academy for Science and Technology and Maritime Transport, will look at SAR operations in the context of the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS). He will explain the advantages of GNSS which include long term stability and absolute accuracy and how this system has developed over the past decade.
Delegates will also be told how the Swedish Sea Rescue Society (SSRS) has increased its membership from 30,000 in 2004 to almost 100,000 in the space of 10 years. Niklas Jendeby from the SSRS will discuss the partnership established between the SSRS and Sweden's leading marketing agency – Forsman and Bodenfors – and how that relationship has transformed the image and communications of the Society.
"The examples above, and there are many more, give an indication of the breadth and depth of the subject matter to be presented at the WMRC this year," says IMRF Chief Executive, Bruce Reid. "The Congress sessions will range from policy and strategic issues to practical examples and case studies of how we can all do things better in the maritime SAR community, wherever we fit within it."
"I have no doubt that all delegates will leave the event enriched by the experience and with much greater knowledge not only about the challenges and issues affecting us all but also – crucially – about how we might solve them."
Other Congress events and activities will include the DGzRS 150th anniversary celebrations; a parade of current and former rescue vessels; an international trade fair and exhibition; rescue demonstrations and displays; and exhibitors' showcases and presentations.