Saba slated to get SAR boat in 2025 | THE DAILY HERALD

Saba officials listening to a presentation about the search and rescue boat.

SABA–The public entity of Saba announced on Wednesday that it is slated to receive a search and rescue (SAR) boat in the first half of 2025, which will be used to assist people who need help in Saban waters.

    The boat, funded by the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, was highlighted as a local need following research conducted in 2018 and 2019 by Dutch civil servant Marius Sliedrecht.

    According to Saba, there will be a budget for the vessel and its maintenance, as well as for professional equipment, annual training for its crew and the establishment of a management organisation. This was based on a plan drafted in 2021 and 2022 by project leader Hans Schreuder.

    “The launch of a SAR vessel marks a significant enhancement in the safety for both residents and visitors, fulfilling a long-awaited request from Saba,” Saba said in a press release on Wednesday. “The importance of the vessel cannot be overstated, as in cases of emergencies the reaction time of the Dutch Caribbean Coast Guard may be lengthy and there are currently no formalised SAR operations on Saba, increasing the risk of those in distress while at sea.”

    Airport Manager Maegan Hassell said the vessel will ensure Saba fulfils the requirement of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) that obliges airports close to water to have specialist aquatic rescue services readily available.

    The vessel – a Habbeké Fast Rescue Craft 903 – will be a 30-foot boat and, according to the release, will be specifically crafted to handle Caribbean waters, as well as strong winds, high temperature and the salt from the ocean.

    It will have the capacity to carry 21 persons in addition to four members of the rescue team. The boat will have two Volvo Penta engines and will be fitted with jets instead of propellers for “safety reasons”, the release said, adding that a similar vessel is currently being used by Curaçao’s civil rescue organisation.

    “The boat should take between nine and 12 months to be built, with the goal of being fully operational within the first half of 2025,” according to the press release.

    Saba said training in SAR operations will be offered to a crew of four, but the goal is to grow to eight crew members in total. The training will be done in collaboration with volunteer group Royal Dutch Sea Rescue, who will facilitate certified training for Saba and St. Eustatius in their respective local waters.

    “Further collaboration between Saba and St. Eustatius will occur through management and sharing technical and maintenance capacity,” according to the release.

    Saba Island Governor Jonathan Johnson thanked the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management for funding the initiative, and Schreuder for “involving the stakeholders during the process.”

    “We realise the local situation and the need to ensure international requirements are met. Through patience and persistence, we will actualise a necessary resource for our island,” said Johnson.

Source: The Daily Herald