Johannes Kooijman, SAR volunteer, CITRO - Curaçao Sea Rescue Organization

Presented with IMRF The Vladimir Maksimov Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Maritime SAR Sector


Mr Kooijman was recognised for his work as a lifelong SAR volunteer and founder of CITRO (the Curaçao Sea Rescue Organization) in the Caribbean, more than 40 years ago.

The award recognised the many challenges faced by the young organisation. In its early years CITRO relied on yacht and small plane owners to help with search and rescue missions, but it took too long to respond to any emergency call, the yachts were not always sea worthy and not all the yacht owners had the necessary know-how to handle a successful rescue operation.

Over several decades Mr Kooijman has worked hard to share his knowledge, establishing close working relationships with the KNRM (Royal Netherlands Sea Rescue Organisation), which is still part of the CITRO advisory board.

It wasn't until 2001 that CITRO could purchase its first rescue boat, but today CITRO is a professional, growing organization with a solid team of more than 40 dedicated volunteers, who train locally and in Scotland, in partnership with the KNRM.

There’s a fundraising support team, a marketing and PR team and technical team. CITRO has two professional sea rescue vessels, two seadoos, a boathouse, a 24/7 response service, and a signed MOU agreement with the coastguard.

Mr Kooijman was also founder and editor of the Antillean Navigator, a newspaper covering maritime and air news.

He was instrumental to the Caribbean Initiative “CSAR” which works to enhance the safety of life in the waters of the Caribbean by strengthening and establishing volunteer search and rescue units, bringing together the six major islands in the Netherlands Antilles: Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, Saba, Sint Martin, and Saint Eustatius.

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