A real risk of maritime accidents
The amount of maritime traffic in the Baltic Sea is constantly growing; more chemicals are being transported and the number of passengers is increasing. The risk of an accident exists and, in the worst-case scenario, a chemical tanker could collide with a passenger ship.
Hazardous materials are stored in or transported through ports, nearby which a large number of people live. They are also exposed to the possible side effects of an accident, such as toxic clouds or smoke spreading through air. These types of incidents usually require large scale rescue operations, and in the case of maritime incidents, also joint efforts of several countries. In order for the authorities to be able to cooperate in these international rescue operations, they need to work together. However, without joint guidelines, procedures, and frequent joint exercises, this would not be possible.
What is the ResQU2 platform?
A number of such guidelines, procedures and lessons learned from previous incidents already exist. Thanks to the ResQU2 project platform, all the gained learning experiences and existing standard operational procedures and guidelines can be easily accessed and shared among the national rescue authorities around the Baltic and North Sea areas.
The platform brought together four projects, which had already tackled problems related to emergency preparedness in the region:
- ChemSAR (Interreg Baltic Sea Region) created operational plans and procedures for maritime search and rescue in hazardous and noxious substances (HNS) incidents.
- DiveSMART Baltic (Interreg Baltic Sea Region) increased preparedness and efficiency in underwater operations by formalising an international board of divers from the BSR countries.
- HAZARD (Interreg Baltic Sea Region) aimed at mitigating the effects of emergencies in major seaports in the Baltic Sea Region, the rescue services from different BSR countries shared best practices in hazardous materials incidents and port’s risk management.
- MIRG EX (EU Civil Protection Mechanism) brought together four Maritime incident response groups, i.e., fire fighter teams trained specifically to respond to incidents on board ships.
The relevance of sharing existing guidelines and procedures for rescue operations
Common knowledge and shared practices have improved the emergency preparedness in Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Sweden, and helped reduce the effects of possible large-scale incidents at sea or in ports. The project platform organised different types of dissemination events to communicate the best practices to professionals across the region. All in all, ResQU2 reached over 300 professionals in over twenty seminars, webinars and workshops. Some of the events attracted interest from experts even outside Europe.
Among others, the project partners cooperated with several high level national and international organisations, such as the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats (Hybrid CoE), which advanced the durability of the outcomes even further.
The conditions prevailing during an incident, such as the type of incident, its initial size, response time, and local circumstances like weather and sea state, are some examples that can have an impact on the effectiveness of the response. ResQU2 partners have also investigated what the new developments in the field of maritime incident response are and what could be done to further improve emergency preparedness in the future.