In the early 1900’s, Swedish sea rescue was in such a bad shape that is often was used as a international warning example.
In 1903, the Swedish coast line was ravaged by severe storms that caused the death of many people. The same year a world congress on sea rescue was held in Germany. There Sweden, together with Greece, was highlighted for particularly poor rescue service for shipwrecked mariners.
Participant in this conference was Swedish Albert Isakson, at the time a shipbuilding engineer at English Lloyd. Determined to do something about this poor situation, he traveled back home to Sweden to spread the word and make a change.
The Swedish government showed no interest in Albert’s vision of an effective national sea rescue. Instead, he gathered private representatives of Swedish shipping for a meeting in Stockholm on June 1, 1907. After the meeting an organization had been formed - Svenska Sällskapet för Räddning af Skeppsbrutne (SSRS) or The Swedish Sea Rescue Society.
Ten years after the forming of the organization, in 1917 there were 4770 members and a total of 11 rescue vessels.
Fast forward 100 years and those numbers have risen to 11 .000 members and over 200 vessels of different kinds, but most importantly there are now 2319 rescue workers in the organization who constantly put their own lives at risk for the sake of others, totally voluntarily.
The Swedish Sea Rescue Society participates in around 80% of all sea rescue operations in Sweden, that’s quite an extraordinary number.