Voluntary Maritime Rescue

Thematic cluster:
Vigorous sea
Southern Finland - Estonia Sub-programme
1. Safe and healthy environment
Direction of support:
Taking responsibility for our physical environment
Sep 2008 - Jun 2011 (2 years, 10 months)
Total funding:
942 260 €
ERDF funding:
613 411 €
EUSBSR Priority area
To become a leading region in maritime safety and security
Protection from emergencies and accidents on land

Development idea

Despite a significant increase in merchant shipping and boating traffic in the Gulf of Finland, there is a lack of sufficient maritime search and rescue resources. It is especially problematic that the rescue services on the Estonian coast are below the levels specified in international agreements.

Aim of the project

The project improved the preparedness of the rescue services on the Estonian coast to the level specified in international agreements to make the rescue services sufficient for the country’s own citizens and visitors from abroad. Improving the self-sufficiency of Estonia to provide rescue services reduces the need for Finland to participate in rescue missions in Estonia.

Main project activities

The project raised overall awareness and sought to unite those people who are interested in voluntary maritime search and rescue operations. The project set up new search and rescue units in Estonia and provided training for new volunteers. The project also helped to equip four rescue vessels that are located at various Estonian harbours.


The Finnish Lifeboat Institution

ERDF funding:
360 756 €
Amount of eligible national funding:
284 263 €

Municipality of Vihula

ERDF funding:
252 655 €
Amount of eligible national funding:
44 586 €


A maritime rescue system in the Gulf of Finland

Estonian and Finnish volunteers developed a joint maritime rescue system to improve the search and rescue services.

Experiences on the creation and development of voluntary maritime rescue services can be shared and adopted by other similar organizations. Due to the project activities Estonia was accepted as a member of the International Maritime Rescue Federation (IMRF).

A video about the project on the European Commission website ENG

Maritime rescue vessels

Four rescue vessels were purchased for the Estonian rescue groups and three for the Finnish rescue societies.

The new fully equipped rescue vessels in Finland and Estonia ensure smaller reaction times in disaster situations and assures higher level of safety at the sea.