Message from the AFRAS President

AFRAS President Charles “Skip” Bowen, left, presents the C-Port Award to Capt. Nathan Lins, TowBoat U.S., Catalina, at a ceremony in January.

Supporters of AFRAS! It has been an exciting year so far for the Association! For starters, we have been able to donate well over $28,000 to the Virgin Islands Search and Rescue (VISAR), supporting their efforts to reconstitute their capability following last year’s tremendous hurricane that impacted the Caribbean.

In addition, congratulations to Mr. Mark Cianciolo, Mr. Fair Kim and Mr. Joe Re for joining the AFRAS Board. Mark Cianciolo, a retired Marine Corps Colonel, brings a wealth of experience to the Board representing McMurdo, Inc., a huge supporter of AFRAS. Retired Coast Guard Captain Joe Re also joined our team. Joe joined Sev1Tech as the Director of Mission Solutions after a long and exemplary career in the U.S. Coast Guard. Fair Kim, a retired Coast Guard Commander, brings to AFRAS an extensive operational service background, as well as expertise in maritime policy objectives through his work at the Coast Guard’s Office of Legislative Affairs, and now his position as Policy Director and Counsel for the non-profit American Maritime Congress, in Washington DC.

Next, I would like to congratulate all of our 2018 award recipients. They will be recognized at our annual Association for Rescue at Sea award reception, set for Thursday the 13th of September on Capitol Hill.

Finally, I will be stepping down as President of AFRAS at the end of my term in September. It has been a true privilege to serve the last three years. However, all organizations need fresh perspective from time to time and it is time for me to step down. I am very proud of what we have been able to accomplish. I will remain part of this fantastic organization as a Director. Stay tuned for the announcement of a new President, and thank you!

Tanzania Sea Rescue & Video – AFRAS in Action

Tanzania Sea Rescue is one of the world’s newest volunteer maritime rescue and safety organizations. Less than a year old, it has already:

  • Acquired a rescue boat and recruited over 30 volunteers
  • Had its first rescue
  • Partnered with the Red Cross on water safety programs
  • Had two training team visits, one from the UK’s RNLI and one from France’s SNSM
  • Been featured on the TV News Program “Africa Live” See video below

AFRAS is proud to be a financial supporter for Tanzania Sea Rescue.

Information on how you can make a US tax-deductible in-kind or monetary donation to Tanzania Sea Rescue via AFRAS is available here.

AFRAS Supports Rescuers in Mediterranean and Aegean

Refugees crossing the Mediterranean sea on a boat, heading from Turkish coast to the northeastern Greek island of Lesbos, 29 January 2016.
Refugees crossing the Mediterranean sea on a boat, heading from Turkish coast to the northeastern Greek island of Lesbos, 29 January 2016.

“I’ve been alone in a life raft out of sight of land, and it’s not a good feeling – even when it’s just training and you know they’re coming back for you,” said retired U.S. Coast Guard Captain and helicopter pilot Dana Goward. “I can’t imagine what it’s like if you’re also fleeing for your life, have your children with you and have no idea if you will be rescued.”

Goward is Chairman of the Association for Rescue at Sea (AFRAS), a U.S. charity that supports volunteer humanitarian maritime rescue organizations around the world.

“Most people in America don’t realize it, because we have such a strong Coast Guard,” said Charles “Skip” Bowen, President of AFRAS, “But most of the world’s sea rescue services are charities with volunteer crews. They rely almost entirely on donations from individuals and companies for funding.” Bowen’s last posting during his active duty military career was as Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard, the service’s highest ranking enlisted member.

Volunteer services from across Europe have responded to the maritime refugee crisis in the Mediterranean and Aegean seas by deploying boats and crews. They have saved tens of thousands of lives. “While governments run the Rescue Coordination Centers and issue press releases, it’s often the charities and their volunteers who are actually pulling survivors from the water,” said Goward. “They do many, if not most, of the rescues.”

Responding to the crisis for the last few years has strained the budgets of these charities, many of which are operating far from their home bases.

AFRAS raises money in the United States to support these organizations. “People in the U.S. can make tax deductible donations to AFRAS, and we use it where it is critically needed worldwide,” said Bowen. “Donors can specify which maritime rescue service they want to support, or leave it to us to ensure it gets where it’s needed most.” Bowen likes to quote retired Admiral Thad Allen, former Coast Guard Commandant, who once said, “Beyond any other consideration, safety of life at sea is paramount.”

Individuals and organizations wanting to make donations can do so through our website donation page. Corporations and donors making larger contributions will be recognized at a reception and ceremony on Capitol Hill in September. The event will be hosted by Congressmen Duncan Hunter and John Garamendi. Other members of Congress, senior Coast Guard, MARAD and industry leaders also attend.