Seychelles agencies test oil spill response preparedness with EU partners
Oil spill exercise in action (EUCAP Nestor)
(Seychelles News Agency) - Seychelles’ emergency response capacity in case of a possible oil spill was put to the test on Wednesday in an exercise supported by the European Naval Forces (EUNAVFOR).
According to an online maritime news agency, MarineLink.com the scenario involved a mock distress call to the Indian Ocean island’s Coast Guard from a Seychelles flagged vessel that had collided with a ferry just off Glacis, northern district of the main Seychelles island of Mahé.
The make-believe collision had caused an oil leak and a fire on board the vessel and a number of crewmembers had abandoned the ship as it started to sink.
The exercise involved the Seychelles Coast Guard, Air Force, Fire Fighting Services, Port Authority, Seychelles Maritime Safety Administration as well as the Ministry of Environment and Energy.
It is aimed at implementing the national contingency plan for anti-pollution, search and rescue, and firefighting.
Responding to the situation the relevant agencies namely the Seychelles Coast Guard sent two speedboats and Patrol Vessel Topaz to the sinking ship while the Seychelles Air Force was asked to send an aircraft to the area. The Seychelles Port Authority sent a tug with floating booms to contain the oil spill, and the Fire and Rescue Service intervened to put out the fire.
The exercise also saw the participation of EUNAVFOR Atalanta Flagship Brandenburg, which happened to be in the area, while EUCAP Nestor experts provided support for the planning, preparations as well as its execution.
Together, the Seychelles Coast Guard vessels, Air Force and the Brandenburg found and rescued the crewmembers and worked to prevent the ship from sinking.
“Being able to fight the oil spills is extremely important for the Seychelles,” said the Commanding Officer of the Seychelles Coast Guard, Lieutenant Colonel Simon Dine. “Our tourism industry, an integral part of our Blue Economy, must be protected from pollution.”
For his part the acting Head of the EUCAP Nestor (Seychelles) Country Office Fredrik Wesslau said the exercise went very well considering it was a complex and difficult exercise involving numerous agencies.
“In such scenarios, it is essential that everything is well coordinated and everyone knows exactly what they should be doing…...Once again, the Seychelles has demonstrated its solid capacity to deal with threats to maritime safety,” said Wesslau.
“EUCAP Nestor will take the lessons learnt from the exercise to find ways to further improve this capacity.”
The outcome is also expected to be incorporated into an on-going basic training program for the Coast Guard, as an environmental protection module is expecting to start later in June.
The six-month training program is being conducted for trainees from the Seychelles Coast Guard, Air Force and newly set up Marine Police Investigation Unit.