Search and Rescue Advisor – NGO Jobs 2021

Job Title: Search and Rescue Advisor

Country: Italy
Organization: MSF – Holland
Closing date: 3 Dec 2021

MSF is an international, independent medical humanitarian organisation. We provide medical assistance to people affected by conflict, epidemics, disasters, or exclusion from healthcare. We are a non-profit, self-governed, member-based organisation. MSF was founded in 1971 in Paris by a group of journalists and doctors. Today, we are a worldwide movement of more than 63,000 people.

MSF coordinates operations through collaborations between global offices. The ‘MSF Operational Centre Amsterdam’ (OCA) is a partnership that is composed of the partners MSF-Canada, MSF-Germany, MSF-SARA, MSF-Sweden, MSF-Holland and MSF-United Kingdom. MSF-OCA has a team of more than 11,000 staff working in 115 emergency projects in about 31 countries.

The office of MSF-Holland located in Amsterdam hosts more than 400 employees, offering direct support to MSF-OCA operations. Around 50 staff focus on recruitment, communication and fundraising in The Netherlands (MSF-Holland) and 350 staff are focused on supporting MSF-OCA operations.

At Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) / Artsen zonder Grenzen , we are committed to an inclusive culture that encourages and supports the diverse voices of our employees. We encourage applications from individuals of all genders, ages, sexual orientations, nationalities, races, religions, beliefs, disability status, and all other diversity characteristics.

MSF is a civil society initiative that brings together individuals committed to the assistance of other human beings in crisis. As such, MSF is by choice (Chantilly) an association. Each individual working with MSF does it out of conviction and commitment and is ready to uphold the values and principles of MSF.

As of December 2021, MSF-OCA has a vacancy for the position of:

Search and Rescue Advisor

Location: Central Mediterranean Sea

The SAR advisor will provide expertise and support to the consolidation of independent MSF Search and Rescue operations in the central Mediterranean. Working closely together with the PC, SAR Team Leader (STL) and Deputy SAR Team Leader (DSTL) on board, the SAR Advisor reports to and collaborates with the PC on board.

Main responsibilities:

  • Guide STL & DSTL in their analysis of the situations they face in their work. The responsibility for decisions rests with STL, DSTL and PC.
  • Mentor (Competencies), coach and support (technical skills) STLs and DSTLs new in their position with the objective of building capacity in MSF SAR Team.
  • In collaboration with STL and DSTL, advises on the improvements of MSF specific SAR SOPs for operations.
  • In collaboration with STL, DSTL, consolidate training modules for SAR operations for both the SAR team and the rest of the MSF team:

  • Coach STL/DSTL on methodology for delivering the trainings on board

  • Deliver training sessions to the team on board when requested by STL/DSTL

  • Support the recruitment process of SAR team members.

  • Support in the definition of the job descriptions for the SAR team in collaboration with STL and DSTL

  • Support the PAM in shortlisting the candidates in collaboration with STL and DSTL

  • Participate in interviews and scoring written test in collaboration with STL and DSTL

  • Support during the debriefing of candidates in collaboration with STL and DSTL

  • Support in the planning of the team for each rotation in collaboration with STL, DSTL and PAM

  • Advises on equipment orders related to SAR activities in collaboration with STL and DSTL.

  • Advises on the maintenance of the equipment in collaboration with STL and DSTL

  • Be available to cover (back up) STL/DSTL/SAR Technicians duties when needed.


The Search and Rescue advisor will rotate on and off the ship, in accordance with the identified needs on board (expected to be 75% on board the ship).

While on the ship, the SAR advisor may be requested to cover for any position in the SAR team. The operational decisions and its respective accountability belongs to the SAR team leader and Deputy SAR team leader. The SAR advisor will stay available for any support during operations only if specifically requested by the STL and DSTL.

While on shore, the SAR advisor will be required to work with the onshore team in supporting HR and logistic department, and being available to support operations from land if needed.

  • There is none to very limited possibilities to get off the ship during the rotations.
  • While on board, SAR Advisor will be expected to take part in the Bridge Watch and Deck Watch schedules that all team members participate in.
  • While the need for a humanitarian presence in the central Mediterranean Sea is obvious and more necessary than ever, the humanitarian space is reduced in a much-politicized context. The candidate must be prepared to expect difficulties such as poor access to people in need or long delays before disembarkation after rescue.
  • SAR is a high-profile project: Journalists will be present on the ship; staff may be asked to give interviews or be photographed during their work.
  • Candidates must understand that medical relevance/activities may be considered secondary to humanitarian focus.
  • Due to the current context and several uncertainties, flexibility is a must. All positions on the boat need to be open minded and proactive to constantly re-adjust the set up and strive to contribute to the development of an efficient operation. In the current context the time in port can be extremely long and frustrating, and the way the project is set-up may change quite often during the waiting time.
  • Given the context of the pandemic, crew members must expect that they may be asked to undergo testing for COVID-19 after each rotation in order to ensure the health and safety of all onboard.

SAR context can be hostile and unpredictable, and operations may be blocked at any time. Candidates must be very flexible and anticipate the possibility of periods in which activities are blocked for political and/or bureaucratic reasons, with the ship stuck in port for an unknown length of time.


· Required: STCW Basic Safety training and STCW Security awareness.

· Desired: STCW Proficiency in survival craft and/or STCW Proficiency in fast rescue craft.


· Seamanship, advanced first aid, working offshore, search and rescue,

· Desired: fast rescue boat driving, mechanics and boat repair.

Your profile

· Worked with a Search and Rescue organization in a Coordinator or Deputy Coordinator role for at least 1-2 years;

· Experienced in developing SAR related trainings;

· Excellent working knowledge of rescue equipment and requirements;

· Well-informed on the current context in the central Mediterranean and developments relevant to SAR at the Italian level;

· Well- informed on the current context in Libya and developments relevant to SAR at the EU level;

· Working experience with MSF seen as an advantage;

· Proven organizational skills and diplomatic skills;

· Solution-focused mind-set and highly flexible: anticipate (last minute) changes due to internal and external factors, reset priorities and have flexible working hours;

· English fluent, French, Italian and Arabic a plus.

We offer

· A full-time 6 months contract handled through an external crewing agency;

· A challenging and exciting position in an international environment and the possibility to be part of a committed team contributing to our humanitarian mission

How to apply:


If you recognize yourself in this profile, we welcome you to apply directly via our website and upload a letter of motivation + Curriculum Vitae (in English) as one combined document.

The closing date for applications is 3 December 2021.

Please note that only candidates that fully meet the requirements of the position will be taken into consideration.


For more information about the recruitment procedure and position, please contact the Personnel Administration Manager at