Throughout Spain, the official emergency service responsible for managing rescues at sea, the Sociedad de Salvamento y Seguridad Marítima, who operate on behalf of the Ministerio de Fomento, coordinated the rescue, support or search for 13,090 people during 2013, an equivalent of 36 per day, as well as an additional 5,121 other maritime based activities, or 14 per day on average.

These figures represent an increase of 1% in terms of the number of activities, and a staggering 10% increase of people involved compared to data from 2012.

Perhaps no surprise that the number one activity of the year was relating to saving lives at sea, with 4,067 such rescues. In addition, there were 679 safety checks at sea and 375 activities which related to the protection of the marine environment.

In terms of the total number of vessels involved, in 2013 that figure reached 3,789 compared to 3,449 in 2012. Of these, over 50%, some 1,927 were recreational craft, of the remaining, 667 were fishing boats and 452 were merchant vessels. The remaining 743 cases were related to other types of ships and floating structures.

The rescue teams manage safety in a vast area of Spain, with the sea surface covering three times the size of the national land mass, looking after some 1,500,000 square kilometres of sea surface, compared to the 505,992 square kilometres of land mass.

The coastline alone, including the mainland and the Balearic and Canary Islands, is a huge distance of 7,880 kilometres. When you consider that the straight line distance from Madrid to New York is 5,783 kilometres, to which a direct flight on a commercial jet would take 8 hours, and Madrid to Mumbai 7,549 kilometres a flight which would take around 12 hours, it shows the immense distance and area covered.

The overall operation is conducted as a public company, which has a team of more than 1,500 workers, on 24-hour alert, to respond to all emergencies that may arise at sea. They have 73 marine units, of different types, from salvage vessels to patrol boats, equipped to address all types of emergencies that may arise in the marine environment. In addition, they have 11 helicopters equipped to carry out rescue work of human life and air reconnaissance, as well as 3 airplanes equipped to search specifically for shipwrecks and the detection of spills in the marine environment.

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