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The Deutsche Gesellschaft zur Rettung Schiffbrüchiger (DGzRS) or German Maritime Search
and Rescue Association, is one of the most modern sea rescue services in the world.
We finance our work exclusively through donations and voluntary contributions. As a SAR service,
we are on call around the clock in the North Sea and Baltic Sea in all kinds of weather –
with a fleet of 60 sea rescue cruisers and lifeboats.

Sea Rescuers at a glance.

lives saved
full-time staff
qualified volunteers
SAR cruisers
36,2 Mio €
expenditure in 2013
taxpayer funds

The sea rescuers have
an eventful


During World War II, the DGzRS rescue fleet – marked with the distinctive red cross – is heavily deployed for both “friend and foe” under the protection of the Geneva Convention. 


Christening of the first modern-day sea rescue cruiser with a „daughter“ boat: when the THEODOR HEUSS enters service, a new, ground-breaking era in the construction of modern, versatile rescue boats begins.   


The sea rescue cruiser ADOLPH BERMPOHL is lost at sea in a hurricane during a mission off the coast of Helgoland. The four crew members and three previously rescued Dutch fishermen all perish.


Re-unification : the DGzRS takes on the work of eleven stations along the coast of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania once again – today there are 17.


On May 29th, the German Maritime Search and Rescue Association (DGzRS) is founded in Kiel. The headquarters of the DGzRS is Bremen. The sea rescue stations are equipped with simple rocket flares, breeches buoys and open rowboats.


During a hurricane on the night of 1st to 2nd of January, the sea rescue vessel ALFRIED KRUPP is caught by groundswell whilst returning from a mission. Two of the four crew members are lost at sea. 


150 years of DGzRS: 60 sea rescue units are in service. The rescue fleet is among the most modern and most effective in the world. In spite of all the technology, our focus is, as ever, on people. Without the voluntary efforts of experienced sea rescuers, the work of the DGzRS would be inconceivable today.


Following major maritime emergencies along the North Sea coast, Adolph Bermpohl and Carl Kuhlmay call for the creation of a sea rescue service on a private basis. As early as 1861, Georg Breusing establishes the first German regional association for sea rescue in Emden. Other associations follow along the coast. Dr. Arwed Emminghaus plays a leading role in championing the merger of the associations.


The motorisation of the rescue fleet begins.


When Germany is divided, the DGzRS continues its sea rescue service in the German Bight and the western Baltic Sea on a private basis. The sea rescue service of the GDR, in contrast, is organized by the government. 


The DGzRS has already saved over 50,000 people from distress at sea or in dangerous situations: this corresponds to the present-day population of the town of Passau in Bavaria. The Sea Rescuers have provided prompt assistance to around 81,000 people  - as many as the inhabitants of the city of Villingen-Schwenningen in Baden-Württemberg. 


After Norddeich Radio closes down, the DGzRS takes over duty for round-the-clock monitoring of VHF maritime radio for emergency and safety calls. 

The world knows many languages –
sea rescuers only one.

Over 90 percent of the worldwide exchange of goods and commodities takes place via sea routes. Sea rescue is just as international:

  • We work together across borders with the sea rescue services of our neighbouring nations.
  • Our MARITIME RESCUE COORDINATION CENTRE BREMEN provides assistance in emergencies with German involvement around the globe.
  • The DGzRS is a member of the International Maritime Rescue Federation (IMRF), an association of almost all maritime search and rescue organisations worldwide


World Maritime Rescue Congress

The next World Maritime Rescue Congress (WMRC) will take place in Bremen and Bremerhaven in 2015. The host will be the Deutsche Gesellschaft zur Rettung Schiffbrüchiger (DGzRS), which will also celebrate its 150th anniversary that year.

The members of the International Maritime Rescue Federation (IMRF) meet every four years at the WMRC for intensive and very open discussions about rescue technology and experience gained during missions at sea.

For further information, visit: www.international-maritime-rescue.org


We head out to sea when
others seek safe haven.

Recover castaways. Save people from danger. Care for the
injured and sick. We are ready to launch into action around
the clock and literally in any wind and weather.

Our Vision

  • We save lives of people in distress at sea along the North Sea and Baltic Sea coasts around the clock and in all kinds of weather.
  • We help worldwide where there is danger to life and limb on board German ships.
  • We organise and implement one of the most professional and modern sea rescue services in the world according to three main principles:
  1. Voluntary
    The rescue of people in distress at sea at the risk of one’s own life is voluntary. Volunteers, sea rescuers involved on a voluntary basis, are the vast majority and the backbone of the sea rescuers.
  2. Independent
    All operations follow one single objective: rescuing people in distress at sea as effectively and fast as possible. Neither public authorities nor individual donors influence our decision making.
  3. Funded by donations
    We finance our work exclusively through voluntary contributions. We deliberately forgo any public funding by the government in order to preserve our independence.

  • We regard our work as citizens‘ initiative that unites civil courage and community spirit: the civil courage of those who head out to sea when all others are glad to have reached safe haven and the community spirit of all those who make it possible through their commitment on land.
  • We share our experiences, innovations and ideas with other sea rescue services around the world to overcome the increasing challenges at sea due to climate change and the growth in maritime traffic.

1.000 sea rescuers
54 stations
1 task

Our sea rescuers are
storm-proof. Our vessels, too.

In an emergency, we must be able to respond promptly and reliably. For this we
require the safest equipment and a modern fleet – with sea rescue vessels and lifeboats
that defy wind and weather.
No matter how high the waves, we always focus on reaching harbour safely and soundly
with survivors safe on board. 

on board!

Get to know our SAR cruiser NIS RANDERS.

With the mouse button pressed down, you can turn around 360°; by clicking, you get to the next room. You can also „board“ the daughter boat ONKEL WILLI by clicking.

on board!

Get to know our SAR cruiser HARRO KOEBKE.

With the mouse button pressed down, you can turn around 360°; by clicking, you get to the next room. You can also „board“ the daughter boat NOTARIUS by clicking