Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Twenty Five Years After His Death a Shipping Magnate’s Charitable Work Lives On

Funding for Essential Rescue at Sea Technology and Training
Shipping News Feature
AFRICA – The International Maritime Rescue Federation (IMRF), global focal point for maritime search and rescue technology and operations, has been awarded $450,000 by The TK Foundation to support its work building vital maritime search and rescue (SAR) capability across 29 countries in Africa as part of its global SAR development project (GSD). The funding will be spread over three years with a focus on building the capability of Rescue Coordination Centres (RCCs), Rescue Sub-Centres (RSCs) and SAR Mission Coordinators.

Formed originally as the International Lifeboat Federation in 1924, the IMRF is an independent charity and it has been present in the North and West Africa region since 2012, working in partnership with the International Maritime Organization Technical Cooperation Committee (IMO TCC). The training of personnel and the development of a regional SAR plan by the two has been hailed as a success and has now spread to cover five African SAR regions.

Over the first four years of its work in Africa, the IMRF ran 19 courses, trained 261 SAR personnel, and has established a local network of trainers who can deliver courses in their own countries and regions. The TK Foundation funding will enable IMRF to train a further 500 SAR personnel between 2017 and 2019, each of whom will receive recognition with a IMRF/IMO certificate on completion of their training.

Despite this degree of success however there is still a significant SAR capacity gap on training knowledge sharing and skill development. Many of the countries in Africa are in the early stages of developing structured and sustainable centralised SAR coordination capabilities, but maritime search and rescue development does not always receive sufficient priority for government funding.

The SAR regions all now have websites to raise the profile of the search and rescue operations, designed and hosted by the IMRF and the target is to persuade African governments of the importance of the projects and elicit their support. The IMRF's involvement in Africa global SAR has been driven by Mohammed Drissi, Trustee of the IMRF and the Head of the SAR Bureau at the Ocean Fisheries Ministry, Morocco, which is a long-standing member of the IMRF. He commented:

"We have managed to build momentum though our regular training and regional meetings. As a result, we now have a pool of well-trained SAR coordinators and managers in the majority of the countries' Rescue Coordination Centres (RCC) across the region. The goal has always been to help each country develop its own RCC capability so less time is lost and more lives can be saved when accidents occur at sea. We have also developed trainers within the region so we are less reliant on external trainers, but we could still be doing so much more."

This latest donation from the TK Foundation was warmly welcomed by the IMRF CEO, Bruce Reid, who observed:

"The TK Foundation funding is great news and we are very grateful for their support. It will allow us to expand the work we have been doing with the Africa SAR organisations to improve their SAR coordination and response capability and improve the safety, security and well-being for all those involved in maritime activities in Africa."

The TK Foundation was created by the formidable figure of J. Torben Karlshoej, a Danish farm boy who developed a passion for the sea. This led to him founding Teekay Shipping at the age of 31 and developing it into a serious industry player before his untimely death in 1992 at the age of just 50. Besides his love of the sea Karlshoej was an equal opportunities employer before it was fashionable, a perfectionist and keen on the education of youth and whose daughter Kimberley followed him both into the industry and into working for mariners as Head of the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) Seafarers’ Trust, a post she left last month.

Meanwhile Kimberley’s sibling Susie is now Managing Director of the Bahamian registered charity that her father founded, and the head of the TK Foundation spoke of this latest contribution saying:

"We are delighted to support the IMRF's work developing a strong and well-resourced search and rescue capability across Africa. Far too many people die in the world's waters and this project directly supports our key maritime objectives including broadening knowledge of the maritime world while improving the safety of seafarers. We wish the IMRF every success with the project and believe that it will make a significant difference to the safety of many of those working around the coast or at sea across the region.”