Operational plans and procedures for maritime search and rescue in HNS incidents

March 2016 -
April 2019


Policy area:
3. Transport 3.3 Maritime safety


100 – 200 incidents are reported involving commercial traffic but the number of near miss situations is many times higher. This, combined with the increasing amount of traffic in the Baltic Sea, the traffic intersecting at several nodes, difficult waters, and the harsh winter conditions in the northern Baltic Sea increase both the probability of a largescale maritime incident and the difficulty of conducting search and rescue operations.


Currently there is a lack of operational plans and standard operational procedures (SOP) for search and rescue (SAR) operations applicable to cases of hazardous and noxious substances (HNS) incidents in Baltic Sea Region (BSR) according to rescue authorities and study reports.

Demanding maritime incidents are in this area almost always international in nature, which emphasizes the significance of common procedures and common level of knowhow. Countries have some national practices for maritime chemical incidents but these incidents call for joint rescue operations and common guidelines. It is important to know how chemicals react in different environments and with other substances, how one should protect oneself against chemicals and how to treat persons having been in contact with HNS, how to handle contaminated gear and vessels. Lack of appropriate knowledge may, in worst case, lead into disastrous consequences.

The project will create operational plans and standard operational procedures (SOP) needed in SAR operations of HNS incidents. By creating plans and SOPs for the rescue operations related to maritime HNS incidents the project will tackle the above mentioned lack of operational procedures. By developing the e-learning material for the different international actors in the rescue operations the project will enhance and harmonize the level of knowhow to ensure safe rescue operations. The chemical data bank will act as the basis for information seeking in rescue operations and e-learning.

The desk exercises and the international rescue exercise/s at sea will test the applicability of the project results in practice. The project will increase the capacities of maritime rescue authorities and services and improve the competence and transnational cooperation capabilities in the Baltic Sea countries.

The project partners represent the rescue authorities and services, i.e. the project's main target groups. This increases the durability of the project results. The project outcome will also benefit other actors, such as environmental and maritime authorities, shipping companies, SAR training and maritime academies and other maritime stakeholders.

Highlights by mid-term:

The partners have jointly produced two survey reports to gain background information on the preparedness and chemical databases and cargo onboard for the project's use. A draft of the standard operational procedures for hazardous and noxious substances incidents at sea was developed. These have already been tested in tabletop exercises and lessons learnt have been taken into account in the development work.

The partners have formulated a concept for the chemical databank, weighed up existing database alternatives and their contents, and collected and analysed background information and existing tools and services to support maritime authorities in HNS incidents and e-learning. The databank features were also tested in the tabletop exercises. The tabletop exercises themselves involved not only project partners but also experts from other stakeholder organisations.

Project Stories


€ 2.48
€ 1.89
Eni + Russia
€ 0.00
€ 0.00


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Project manager

University of Turku

Kirsi Laitio

+358 407 799 483

Legal representative

University of Turku

Tommi Inkinen

+358 50 313 0689

Financial manager

University of Turku

Mirja Jyrkinen

+358 50 351 1824

Communication manager

University of Turku

Mariikka Whiteman

+358 407 799 490