So ran a headline on Vietnam's Tuoitrenews website in late November. The point the writer was making was that – good as Vietnam's seven purpose-built SAR vessels are – they are not quite fit for purpose.
Tuoitrenews quoted the director of the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre at Vung Ta, Pham Hien: "It is so difficult to rescue just 50 miles off the coast. The difficulties multiply the farther away from the coast you are." The Netherlands-built ships are 'state-of-the-art', but are designed for relatively short missions in different sea conditions to those found off Vietnam's 3,200 kilometres of coast.
Their range is limited; they cannot refuel at sea; and they are sometimes adversely affected by the sea conditions they encounter.
"However, the biggest challenge our SAR team faces is not to compete with high waves and strong winds," says Hien, "But with time. Saving a life is hundreds of times more valuable than finding a body. But each ship has to cover a vast area."
"They can work at full capacity within 25 miles of the coast. But in Vietnam, SAR ships have to go ten times further." There is therefore a constant problem of having to return to shore to pick up fuel.
The IMRF's Rescue Boat Guidelines project is designed to help with this sort of thing (see LIFE LINE, October 2013).
The Guidelines will help SAR providers to assess their actual rescue boat needs, and to choose equipment accordingly. What works brilliantly in one part of the world will not necessarily do so in another...