Three New Rescue Ships for ICE-SAR

Jóhannes Briem ICE-SAR ship search and rescue

Three new rescue ships have been added to Iceland’s Search and Rescue organisation ICE-SAR’s fleet recently, including the Jóhannes Briem. The latter ship’s home port is Reykjavík, where it was handed over to ICE-SAR team Ársæll on Saturday. ICE-SAR is working on renewing its fleet to improve accident prevention and response across Iceland.

Jóhannes Briem was built in Finland at the Kewatec shipyards. It has a cruising speed of up to 30 nautical miles and is powered by two powerful Scania diesel engines and worm drives. It contains state-of-the-art equipment including a thermal camera and side-scan sonar, as well as having better crew equipment than the association’s older ships.

Jóhannes Briem is the third ship of its kind acquired by ICE-SAR recently, with the other two going to search and rescue teams in Flateyri, in the Westfjords and Húsavík, North Iceland.

At Jóhannes Briem’s handover, ICE-SAR announced it had already ordered a fourth ship, which is to be based in Snæfellsnes, West Iceland.

Never Fewer Accidents at Sea

iceland fishing

While it can seem that bad news is coming from all directions these days, good news is to be found at sea.

2021 saw the fewest accidents at sea reported to the Social Insurance Administration and Icelandic Health Insurance since an incident registry for the fishing industry was established in 1966, MBL.is reports.

There were 108 incidents at sea reported in 2021, down from 153 in 2020 and 227 in 2019. Records from the Icelandic Transport Authority show there were 286 reported incidents the year the registry began.

2021 was the fifth year in a row that no Icelander died at sea.

The single worst year for the safety of Icelandic seafarers was 1989, when a total of 631 incidents at sea were registered. Overall, the number of cases began to decrease a few years after the Fishermen’s Accident Prevention School was established in 1985.

Thanks to the vigilance of the fishermen

Heiðrún Lind Marteinsdóttir, CEO of the Association of Companies in the Fisheries Sector, told MBL she chalks the decrease in accidents up to the vigilance of fishermen and increased awareness of the importance of safety at sea.

She said fisheries companies have taken security issues seriously, pointing out that investments in new vessels have resulted in better working and living conditions at sea. “There are many factors contributing to this success, but first and foremost, I think it is the crew themselves who deserve the biggest share of the credit here,” Heiðrún Lind said.

Insurance costs should fall for the fishing industry

Chairman of the Icelandic Seamen’s Association Valmundur Valmundsson said he is pleased with the latest numbers but added, “We can always do better, preferably, so there are no accidents at sea.”

“Seafarers should be able to walk home safely from work. That is the goal of all of us who work on these issues,” he said.

Valmundur said he hopes that increased safety at sea will reduce insurance costs for the fishing industry.