Balex Delta Exercise 2018

In case of a major oil spill or harmful chemical spill in the Baltic Sea, international assistance from some or all Baltic coastal countries may be needed. The work for coordinated pollution preparedness and response take place within the regional cooperation of HELCOM Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission.

The HELCOM BALEX DELTA exercise has been conducted annually for nearly 30 years. The exercise is organized as a practical exercise of the response capability and alarm procedures of the Baltic Sea countries. The exercises are hosted by the Baltic Sea coastal countries with a rotation schedule.

In addition to the host, other countries regularly participate with their own response ships. Typically, 6-8 countries take part in the exercise, bringing the total number of vessels to 10-20. This makes the Baltic exercise one of the major multilateral spill exercises worldwide.

In august Norden took part of another major international oil combat exercise through her participation in the HELCOM Balex Delta Exercise. The exercise was completed over a couple of days in the area of Karlskrona, Sweden.

The exercise was hosted by the Swedish Coastguard with the following scenario.

In windy conditions, a cargo ship carrying containers with hazardous chemicals hits ground off the coast of Skåne and Blekinge. The collision causes some chemical containers to be lost into the sea, and creates a breach in the hull. Some of the containers are badly damaged and sink, leaking chemicals. The breached hull starts leaking oil, so that before long, a large amount has been released into the surrounding waters. Due to harsh weather, the oil and some of the containers start drifting towards the shore.

Within 24 hours of the accident, some containers have reached the shore, together with the oil. On the rocky shore area, some containers are damaged and may leak hazardous or noxious substances.

A large part of the shoreline is classified as environmentally important (Natura2000 areas, sea bird sanctuaries), and is composed of rocky areas and small cliffs. Other socio-economic values are also threatened, such as a large paper mill.

The exercise was another good opportunity for new learnings for the staff and crew on board Norden. The overall result of the exercise was good and the use of Norden in oil pollution response was highly appreciated.

More information about the exercise could be read from:

https://balexdelta2018.helcom.fi/

More information about the work of HELCOM could be read from:

https://www.helcom.fi/

Photo Credit: Private