Who are we?

In the first few months of 1988, a team of development advisers from the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office was sent out to the British Virgin Islands to make development recommendations to the Government of the BVI. One of their recommendations was that the Government invite the group of people running the informal SAR service to create an "autonomous, para-professional, dedicated volunteer maritime search and rescue service." At the request of the BVI Government, VISAR became an official Non-Profit Organization (NPO) and was modelled on the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) in the UK, the world's oldest lifeboat service. Like the RNLI, and many other lifeboat services in Europe, it is an independent, volunteer-based organisation funded almost entirely by charitable donations.

Since its formation VISAR has carried out well over 1,300 search and rescue missions. In 2016 we launched our boats 82 times and spent 135 hours responding to marine emergencies. Our fully trained volunteer crew, trainees and coordinators gave up over 2200 hours of their personal time to train, attend meetings and dedicate themselves to saving lives at sea. VISAR’s mission statement is simple – VISAR saves lives at sea.