Rescue boats “Zeta” and “Chiara” were officially delivered from DGzRS to HRT in a beautiful ceremony held in Kos, Greece, on Sunday, November 12th 2017.
The two vessels were donated to HRT on June and November 2016 – “Chiara” arrived first and “Zeta” followed- and since then they have been operating 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 there didn’t have any rescue means to deliver search and rescue missions at sea and save the refugees who were trying to cross the Aegean with great danger for their lives. Since then, the small but enthusiastic group of HRT volunteers in the island performed 17 rescue missions, under the command of the Coastguard, and 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, President of the IMRF and CEO of DGzRS”. 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 just a year earlier”, he mentioned. “Reading news or watching TV is one thing, being personally involved a totally different story. We were impressed by the altruistic attitude Greece widely showed despite all the struggles and clashes which happened", he added.
With regard to DGzRS and HRT cooperation he 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 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 organization growing up and becoming a professional acting volunteer organization recognized by civil society and the Government and as valued Guardian Angel for all sea farers in these waters.
Nikolaus Stadeler, CEO of DGzRS, also attended the ceremony and greetings were also 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 organizations, amongst which members of the Turkish rescue team Mugla 911, were also present. Of course, all the HRT Kos volunteers and crews were there to welcome the invitees and present the rescue boats to the people of Kos.
The donation of “Chiara” and “Zeta” was followed by a six-month training session provided from DGzRS trainers, who visited Kos once a month and offered a three - days training, which included, amongst others, boat operation, navigation and towing.
Since 2015, when the refugee crisis reached its peak in Greece, HRT has been offered 13 rescue boats and 2 rescue runners from the IMRF members in Europe (RS, SSRS, KNRM, RNLI and DGzRS) to enhance its operating capability at sea. But it was not only the boats. The 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 organization, which is now acting in a more professional way. However, the journey is still long and full of challenges. HRT is grateful to all the organizations and to the people working there, who have been putting so much effort in supporting the Hellenic Rescue Team and Greece.