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Who we are

The National Sea Rescue Institute is a volunteer rescue organisation that is on call 24/7. Our mission is to save lives on South African waters. But we’re more than a rescue service. We educate communities and strive to innovate and constantly evolve and extend our water-safety initiatives through empowerment and visibility.

In this section

An overview of our organisation, its history and people.

What the National Sea Rescue Institute does

NSRI is manned by more than 1350 unpaid volunteers at over 50 rescue bases, including satellite or auxiliary stations and inland dams. In addition, more than 20 Lifeguard Units have been established around the country

We mobilise for swift-water and flooding scenarios, fires on vessels, and medical evacuations off ships and coastal clifftops. We assist commercial trawlers and leisure yachts. We activate for fishermen, swimmers, anglers, hikers, paddlers and surfers. Families and communities are impacted emotionally and economically when lives are lost. Through water-safety education and active rescue, we can save lives, change lives and create futures.

Why it works

Our sea-going crew is complemented by a volunteer Lifeguard Unit and Survival Swimming squads, a host of dedicated full-time water-safety personnel, an Emergency Operations Centre situated at our head office, and dedicated fundraisers who are in communication with our donors and supporters. We’re a people’s organisation, constantly innovating and expanding our footprint to serve our communities through preventive services and education.


How you can help

You can become an active part of our donor community by donating to our projects or entering our Monthly Cash Prize Draw and NSRI Car Competition
Offer your time and join our Survival Swimming squad or Lifeguard Unit. We will train you so you’ll know exactly what to do
Help us spread the water-safety message by inviting our instructors to your schools and clubs or arrange a tour with your local Sea Rescue base to discover exactly what we do

The NSRI couldn’t operate without your support. Each life saved and child educated is thanks to your contributions and donations

Our values


We love the sea and combine this love with our commitment to help others.


We have strong family values as individuals, as stations and as an organisation.


We care about people. The medical care that we provide extends this value to the people we rescue.


We are a proud organisation. Proud of the service we deliver, proud of each other and proud to be South African.


We are accountable to the people who we serve, for the service that we deliver and to each other for support.


We value the safety of our crews and that of our patients above everything. And we don’t compromise in ensuring their well-being at sea.

Read more about who we are

1 base showcase
VOLUNTEERS  | Published: 21 December 2021

Base Showcase: Station 8 (Hout Bay)

In the seventh of a series of stories on NSRI bases around the country, we chat to a few crew members at Station 8 (Hout Bay) to find out more about the base and its family of volunteers.

AWARDS  | Published: 28 September 2021

Two awards and two nominations for the NSRI

The NSRI walked away with two awards at the recent International Maritime Rescue Federation (IMRF) Awards. The winners have also been nominated for Peoples’ Choice Awards, so get voting!

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VOLUNTEERS  | Published: 30 November 2021

Base Showcase: Station 7 (East London)

In the sixth of a series of stories on NSRI bases around the country, we chat to a few crew members at Station 7 (East London) to find out more about the base and its family of volunteers.

VOLUNTEERS  | Published: 25 October 2021

Meet the Barbas family from Oyster Bay (Station 36)

When five members of a family join the NSRI, you know that together they will be an unstoppable force!

JLT Rescuer
VOLUNTEERS  | Published: 25 October 2021

Base Showcase: Station 6 (Gqeberha)

In the fifth of a series of stories on NSRI bases around the country, we chat to a few crew members at Station 6 (Gqeberha) to find out more about the base and its family of volunteers.

Donnalee Logo
WATER SAFETY  | Published: 12 October 2021


Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is a lifesaving technique that is critical to know how to do in many emergencies such as drowning. Donnalee 11, from Ceres was 8 years old when she drowned in a farm dam. “Four boys saved my life by doing CPR on me, I can’t remember anything about it, but my friends say that they pulled me out of the water and rescued me,” she explains.