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MARPART-SEBS: maritime preparedness partnership and search and rescue in the High North


Joint MARPART-SEBS conference on maritime preparedness partnership and search and rescue in the High North was held at the AZIMUT HOTEL, April 9.

This event was organized within two international projects: "Prevention of emergencies at sea and international cooperation in the High North" (MARPART) and "Search and Rescue in the eastern part of the Barents Sea" (SEBS). Both projects are focused on the development of practical bilateral Russian-Norwegian cooperation, mutual understanding on future challenges in ensuring safe navigation in the North, the involvement of stakeholders in the discussion, development and implementation of joint training programs for staff.

– There are no borders in the natural environment, the ocean is a very complex structure, and an oil spill near Kirkenes in a day can bring this oil to the Murmansk region. Such conferences promotes international cooperation and collaboration in key areas such as search and rescue at sea, oil spill response in the Arctic, – said the deputy governor of the Murmansk region Gregory Stratiy.

– From year to year Arctic interest was increasing in Russia and in the world. On the agenda topics cover a wide range of issues. The expansion of economic activity in the Arctic poses new challenges to countries that have access to the northern seas, – said the head of the MSTU Marine Academy Yuri Yudin.

The increase of the Arctic interest is explained due to the increase of the vessel traffic in the North. At the same time, some experts are skeptical about the use of the Arctic waterway. In the Arctic, there is no necessary security infrastructure and search and rescue at sea infrastructure. Still have a lot to do for the organization of monitoring ice conditions.

The most rapidly growing shipping today is in the western Arctic seas. The main share of Arctic shipping accounts for fishing activities is about 50 percent.

By 2020, according to experts, on the Northern Sea Route will be transported about 40 million tons of cargo. Traffic through the Suez Canal is now 718-720 million tons per year, and through the Panama Canal – about 170 million tons. In recent years, there is a very noticeable growth trend of cargo transit through the Northern Sea Route.

– In my understanding, a person who goes to sea must be sure that he will return to the shore. Therefore, we discuss issues relating to the safety of navigation in the Arctic, said Yuri Yudin.

According to the director of the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre North Norway Bent Ove Jamtli, one of the last successful rescue operations in the Arctic was carried out on the platform Scarabeo 8 in September 2012. During an emergency situation there were 140 people on board.

He also noted that the Norwegian government aims to organize more infrastructures for rescue in the Arctic due to the commissioning of new Coast Guard helicopters. Norwegian rescuers are required to ensure the possibility of evacuating at least 20 people during not more than two hours to the facility, located at a distance of 150 nautical miles from the helicopter base. Moreover, since 2017, according to Bent Ove Jamtli, Norway plans to use the new coast guard vessels.

– Development of the oil and gas industry, the growing intensity of the cruise lines creates certain risks of navigation in the Arctic. We are seeing increased activity around Greenland, on the Northern Sea Route. In the Norwegian part of the Barents Sea is ice-free, but the situation is no less complicated with the intensity of shipping. In addition, Russia has big plans for the development of oil fields in the Arctic – said the professor at the University of Nordland, MARPART project manager Odd Jarl Borch.

He noted that the example of successful cooperation was the participation of Norwegian vessels to ensure oil and gas industry in exploration "University" drilling structures on the shelf of the Kara Sea in the summer of 2014. This operation involved 11 Norwegian vessels.

Environment and Security manager of the Statoil Northern operations office Lill Harriet Brusdal reported on the activities of the company in the north and emergency preparedness.

MSTU Associate Professor of navigation Alexander Suslov informed about the use of the Global Maritime Distress in Arctic conditions. He also talked about ways to reduce the noise in the marine radio systems, which is very important for navigation in high latitudes.

During the conference there were discussed a wide range of issues on the organization of search and rescue operations systems, the use of existing resources, ongoing programs to modernize and increase the capacity and improve the competence aspects of organizing and conducting search and rescue operations in the North, the challenges of navigation in the eastern part of the Barents Sea.