US President Franklin D. Roosevelt once said “To reach a port we must set sail – Sail, not tie at anchor. Sail, not drift.” It is a suitable quote to describe the last year for the Sea Ranger Service. It has been our year of doing, of developing and most of all: of sailing. 2019 was the first year we set sail for the North Sea and our offshore work. We have experienced growing attention for our work from the public, investors and potential new clients. We look back at a year of piloting new projects at sea showcasing our model works and looking ahead at a new year of growth and opportunities.
A year at sea
With our first full year at sea, 2019 was our chance to prove the Sea Ranger model. The Sea Rangers were deployed for various projects and tasks. Plastic research has been carried out throughout the year, almost daily when the vessel was at sea. With a net made by Belgian Sea Ranger Cedric van Overstraeten, samples of microplastics have been taken, to be analysed by researchers at the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ). In addition, daily weather observations are recorded in the internal weather models at the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI). In a small way, the evening news weather report comes directly from the Sea Ranger vessel.
Another new project which launched in July 2019 is the monitoring of maritime heritage sites along the Dutch coast. An increasing occurrence of illegal salvaging of items from protected wrecks is an issue the Sea Rangers are keen to play an active role in preventing. Some early patrols were carried out, in the hope of expanding the work into a full pilot project in 2020. In November the Sea Ranger Service announced a new collaboration with the North Sea Farm Foundation. In the new year, more focus will lie on the Sea Rangers carrying out light maintenance work on seaweed farming locations in the North Sea. 2019 was the year the Sea Rangers proved that they are able to expand their areas of work in 2020.
New ship presented
After having sailed on the sailing vessel Tooluka for 12 months, the Sea Rangers transitioned to a larger vessel, presenting the SV Fantastiko as their new vessel on November 2nd. The new vessel has greater operational capabilities to launching drones (UAVs) and underwater camera’s (ROVs), both of with which the Sea Rangers will work in 2020. The geographical work area will also be expanded in 2020, to include the Doggersbank area and other areas further offshore. The Sea Ranger Service wishes to thank the owner of the Tooluka, Eef Willems, for her unwavering support for the Sea Rangers and the potential of what sailing vessels can do beyond just sailing for pleasure or sport. ‘Without her initial trust and enthusiasm for our vision on using sailing technology for offshore work, the programme may have never gotten off the ground’ emphasizes Wietse van der Werf, founder of the Sea Ranger Service.
In order to plan the next stages of growth, the Sea Ranger Service participated in the DELA Accelerator Programme, organised by IKEA Social Entrepreneurship and the social entrepreneurship network Ashoka. Over the course of the last 10 months, General Manager Effie Baert coordinated efforts to strategize a systems’ changing and growth strategy to scale the Sea Ranger approach to our countries and ensure that innovative aspects of the model are adopted by other (maritime) companies to create a larger impact. The support of IKEA and Ashoka has been instrumental in assisting the Sea Ranger Service to develop its growth and impact strategy. The strategy is still undergoing development and is in the early stages of initial implementation. In 2020 the strategy will be published.
With the support of over 30 partners, the Sea Ranger Service launched in 2016 and developed into the company it is today. As one of the keynote speakers at the 45 year anniversary of Rabobank Foundation, Wietse van der Werf, founder of the Sea Ranger Service, emphasized the importance of the financial support the Rabobank Foundation offered the Sea Ranger Service early on. Stichting DOEN also continued their vital, early-stage support for the Sea Ranger Service into 2019. The Sea Ranger Service would like to extend its gratitude to both the Rabobank Foundation and Stichting DOEN for their continued backing of the programme. Lush Charity Pot continued to raise funds for the Sea Rangers, including during with a recent event in one of Lush’s high street stores. PwC was welcomed as a new partner after they offered pro bono consultancy hours to assist with any fiscal and legal issues arising from the continued growth of the company. Further appreciation goes out to Willemsoord BV, Zeezeilschool Scheveningen, STC-KNRM, and Mirko Hoette for their ongoing efforts in aid of the Sea Rangers’ mission.
In April 2019 the Sea Ranger Service was awarded the Honorary Medal of Merit for Commercial Sailing by the Enkhuizer Maritime College (EZS). EZS director Cosmo Wassenaar praised the Sea Ranger approach whereby young adults are put to the test during 5-week boot camps so that twelve Sea Rangers can then be selected for a temporary contract onboard a sailing work vessel. He sees our maritime ranger service as part of a promising future for professional sailing. Founder of the Sea Ranger Service, Wietse van der Werf, was awarded the Summit Fellowship in October 2019, which further opens up an influential network of investors and like-minded entrepreneurs to aid the growth of the Sea Ranger mission.
After signing the Green Deal Sea Ranger Service with the Dutch government in December 2018 and preparing and launching our operational service in 2019, the new year will see the Sea Rangers carrying out a growing amount of tasks at sea. Van der Werf: “2020 will be the year we pilot the full potential of the Sea Ranger vessel, expanding our activities to include all types of monitoring, surveying and research tasks.“ The bigger vision for 2020 is to present a broader strategy on how Sea Rangers can play an important role to measurably improve sustainable use of the oceans and scale this impact to other countries in Europe.
Finally, a debt of gratitude goes out to the investors who have joined the Sea Ranger Service team on its entrepreneurial journey and without whose support the mission would not have been realised. The Sea Rangers look forward to you staying on board in the new year. We stay on course!