Storm-tested wave riders.

Ready to slip: Unimog at Wustrow sea rescue station.

An operation every four hours, and every 16 hours a rescue from acute danger to life. These are the average figures of the German Maritime Rescue Service (DGzRS), in short: Deutsche Seenotrettung. 60 rescue cruisers and rescue boats are stationed at the North and Baltic Sea. In Wustrow, the helpers also have an all-terrain Unimog at their disposal, so that rescue boats can be brought into the water even without a harbour.

Alarm message directly to the mobile phone.

Every one of the 19 volunteer sea rescuers in Wustrow, on Fischland, which forms a peninsula with Darß and Zingst in the north-east of Germany, knows immediately what is going on when the alarm message from the Maritime Rescue Coordination Center in Bremen reaches their mobile phones. The first person to arrive at the 100-year-old station building immediately starts the engine of the Unimog U 2150 L. "The Unimog needs air for the brakes. And it starts immediately. Always. For 23 years now," says Karl-Heinz Priebe, foreman of the rescue station.

On the trailer, the all-terrain Unimog transports a highly specialised boat: "It's perfectly equipped, a good working tool. But nothing works without the truck," says Karl-Heinz Priebe. After all, in an emergency the boat first has to be taken over the beach to the water. A task, as if made for the four-wheel drive off-road professional from Mercedes-Benz.

15 t over soft sand.

Then it's off: 200 m towards the beach, turn off, then 200 m along the dunes, then turn left along the path that the rescuers themselves have paved. "We drive with momentum through the soft sand and only turn at the bottom of the water, where the ground is harder," says driver Torsten Brumshagen and accelerates more to keep the 15 t team going.

The Unimog starts immediately. Always. For 23 years now.

Karl-Heinz Priebe, Foreman, Wustrow Rescue Station

All eight gears of the Unimog are available in both directions, with additional reduction ratios and differential locks for the front and rear axles available if required. The odometer shows 38,446 km, of which a not inconsiderable portion is accounted for by the transport of the boat to the Bremen shipyard. Because the transport professional with the star is also convincing on paved roads.

Water taxi with four-wheel drive: Cologne relies on the offroad Unimog in case of floods.

Torsten Brumshagen drives backwards about 20 m into waist-deep water. No problem for the Unimog, which can cope with wading depths of up to 1.2 m. There, the boat, which is fixed with a hydraulic claw, can be lowered from the trailer into the water simply by pressing a button. And the rescue boat of the sea rescue service, christened "Barsch", is already swimming in the sea.

The Unimog is important for the station in Wustrow in order to bring the boat on the trailer to the deployment site.
Volunteering for the community: The sea rescuers of Wustrow are a well-rehearsed team.
Torsten Brumshagen (53), a volunteer with a truck driving licence, drives the Unimog safely through the dunes.
The Unimog U 2150 L is waiting for its next mission in the historic station building of Wustrow.
With blue light it goes in an emergency through the popular bathing resort Wustrow towards the beach.
The treacherous sand roads demand the highest concentration from the driver - getting stuck costs valuable time.
In addition to the trailer, the Unimog transports the necessary equipment for the sea rescue team.
Ready to slip: The Unimog uses its wading ability to maneuver the trailer right into the sea.
The "Barsch" of the Wustrow Sea Rescuer Team measures 7.4 m in total.
Karl-Heinz Priebe (65) has been foreman of the Sea Rescue Station Wustrow since 1994.
Lutz, sitting below deck on the starboard side, keeps everything in view during the operation.
Pull out when others come in: Every day the German Sea Rescuers save people from drowning.
The Unimog is important for the station in Wustrow in order to bring the boat on the trailer to the deployment site.
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Dance on the waves.

Lutz, a volunteer with a captain's license, is stepping on it. At first very carefully - the surge of water jet propulsion behind the six-cylinder Steyr engine with almost 300 hp could be dangerous for the colleagues next to the boat. Then the 3.5-t aluminium boat is jolted, in no time at all. Up to 24 knots, i.e. around 45 km/h, are possible.

"The Barsch is on the water with a crew of three," Lutz informs the control centre via radio. Only about ten minutes have passed since the alarm was reported - but the next deployment is certain to come. Crew and Unimog are ready.

Photos: Sebastian Vollmert
Video: Martin Schneider-Lau

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