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What is a mass rescue operation? The International Maritime Organization defines it as requiring an ‘immediate response to large numbers of persons in distress [when] the capabilities normally available to the SAR authorities are inadequate’. In other words there are too many people to rescue using the resources usually available to us. The IMRF MRO project team call this the ‘capability gap’.

It is the aim of the IMRF’s project to help those preparing for these extremely challenging events to fill that gap. MROs are, thankfully, rare – but that’s all the more reason to be properly prepared for them. This means, first, acknowledging the problem and examining the issues, then planning and training for the day when an MRO is required. Because it’s not ‘if’ but ‘when’…

We can, and should, learn from other people’s experience of MROs – which is what ‘G4’ is all about. The fourth in the IMRF’s acclaimed series of conferences on maritime mass rescue operations will be held in Gothenburg, Sweden, on Monday & Tuesday 12-13 June 2017, with a live exercise during the late afternoon of Sunday 11th as an introduction.

At time of writing, the conference is nearly sold out – so if you want to come and haven’t booked yet, hurry! Visit, e-mail, or phone +44 (0)1569 767405. And, if you have booked, watch the website for further news.

This will be an excellent opportunity to discuss the issues common to maritime MROs – and we mean ‘discuss’. The IMRF’s MRO conferences bring together leading experts in the field, enabling attendees to talk the issues through rather than simply listen to lectures.

The programme begins with a live mass rescue exercise, starting at 1600 on Sunday 11 June and followed by refreshments on the quayside. This will not just be an exercise to watch: you will be invited to participate. But don’t worry: this is not a test! Indeed, we hope that you will take part in a role different to your usual one.

The conference aim, after all, is to learn from experience!

On Monday 12th & Tuesday 13th June the main conference will take place in the Swedish Sea Rescue Society’s fine headquarters. It will be inter-active, with a clear focus on the real issues. You will be able to hear about others’ experiences, to consider in depth the challenges associated with maritime mass rescue operations, and to discuss solutions to these challenges.

The full programme may be found at

As you will see, the conference has been designed around a number of mass rescue case studies: the Lisco Gloria case in 2010, the Le Boréal in 2015, and the Caribbean Fantasy last year. These cases will be used to introduce the various MRO topics within overall themes of planning, rescue, coordination, and communications. Expert panellists will give short, to-the-point presentations to inform the discussion.

Topics covered will include:

  Planning roles and responsibilities, nationally, internationally and organisationally;
Filling the ‘capability gap’ – additional and regional resources, and support on scene;
Rescue – retrieval, support during rescue, places of safety and accounting for all those involved;
Coordination at sea, on land and in the air – and overall communications – priorities, systems, structures;
Public relations – the news media, the wider public and those directly involved; and,
Training, exercising, and learning from experience.

If you cannot join us in Gothenburg this time, make sure to watch for reports of the conference on the IMRF website and in in future editions of LIFE LINE.

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