An Exceptional Operation

Posted in IMRF Mixed Migrant Safety Project - Aegean Sea

In the early summer of 2015

In the early summer of 2015, in the shadows of the unfolding tragedies in the eastern part of the Mediterranean, the Norwegian Society for Sea Rescue took a bold decision, allowing armed Police officers to operate aboard one of their rescue vessels. Two years later this exceptional collaboration has come to an end, with extraordinary results. 

It is June 2015. In the headquarters of the Norwegian Society for Sea Rescue (RS) there is a hectic activity. A buzzing sound of excitement and anticipation.

Even if RS have no experience with international operations at this point, Frontex have entrusted them with a great opportunity to participate in operation Poseidon, in the Mediterranean. For the first time in the 125 year long history of RS one of their rescue vessels will operate in foreign waters. 

It Was Very Special

It Was Very Special

Two years on, Captain Lars Solvik is standing in the harbour of Mytilene. He, and the crew on the rescue vessel Peter Henry von Koss, has just completed their last mission as a part of the Frontex-operation Poseidon. Almost 700 days after his first arrival to the capital of Lesbos.

"I had some experience from sailing in international waters, but this was something that none of us had ever experienced before. When we finally arrived for the first time it was very special. It was extreme. We were prepared. And there were a lot of things we knew, but even more things we didn’t know. As an NGO from Norway, this international operation represented many firsts for the Norwegian Society of Sea Rescue. The key to success lies in exceptional team work."

An Extraordinary Collaboration

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An Extraordinary Collaboration

With the lack of experience of RS in mind, it was necessary for the organisation to go into the operation under joint management.

With Frontex in charge, the Norwegian Police took operational responsibility and the RS held maritime responsibility. An extraordinary collaboration, that had some challenging moments in the making.

Today, General Secretary, Rikke Lind, is a hundred percent sure that they made the right decision back in 2015.

"We have come to the end of an exceptional operation. With some extraordinary people, and most importantly; we have accomplished some extraordinary things. RS are proud to have been part of this operation, and of what we have achieved together."

6300 Lives

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On the morning of the day of their last mission, 
the Norwegian rescue vessel Peter Henry von Koss 
picked up 57 migrants. Among them 22 children.

6300 Lives

At the end of this two-year long mission, the Norwegian rescue vessel has saved more than 6300 lives. The day before their last mission Solvik and his crew picked up 57 people from a small boat in the Mediterranean, among them 22 children.

"We want to say a wholehearted and sincere thank you, to Frontex and Hellenic Coast Guard for inviting us on board, and to our dear brothers and sisters in Hellenic Rescue Team: We cherish our partnership. And last, but not least, to the Norwegian Police for a fruitful and constructive collaboration," says Lind.

"This operation enabled us to do something about it. Together!"

In the IMRF our mantra is that when it comes to maritime SAR the only competition is with the sea! Cooperation and collaboration, locally, nationally and internationally is the key. IMRF CEO Bruce Reid stated "Operation Poseidon has been a great example of this IMRF mantra. The RS response to the humanitarian crisis was swift, decisive and because of this more lives were saved. We can’t commend highly enough the work done by the men and women of RS."

Contact Info

International Maritime Rescue Federation
50 Allardice Street
Stonehaven
AB39 2RA
United Kingdom

Telephone: +44 (0) 1569 767405

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