“As maritime activity in the Arctic increases, it elevates the risk of serious incidents and the need to plan and prepare for emergency and pollution responses. It is crucial to test and better understand the challenges of a coordinated response that involves many different players in a safe environment,” says Jens Peter Holst-Andersen, Chair of The Emergency Prevention, Preparedness and Response (EPPR) Working Group of the Arctic Council, in a press release.
Together with the Arctic Coast Guard Forum (ACGF), EPPR is holding a joint online emergency response exercise from 12-14 April which' aim is to improve Arctic nations’ capability to respond to maritime incidents requiring joint search and rescue (SAR) and marine environmental response operations.
Arctic Guardian 2021 was originally intended as a live exercise following a table-top exercise in fall 2020. The virtual format will ensure that all stakeholders can participate, and the global pandemic does not hinder Arctic emergency preparedness, the press release states.
“It allows us to not only test response activities, but also build and strengthen the relationships between these diverse players, which are incredibly important at the time of real emergency,” Holst-Andersen adds.
The scenario for the Arctic Guardian 2021 exercise is an oil tanker and an expeditionary cruise vessel colliding off the North coast of Iceland.
“As we know, disasters can strike without any previous indication, anytime, anywhere. The Arctic and adjacent regions are incredibly challenging. Therefore, we have to exercise and prepare for major incidents, emphasizing harsh weather conditions, long distances involved and limited infrastructure. That is precisely the purpose of the Arctic Guardian exercise and workshop. We share and cooperate to battle these elements to make the area safer for the inhabitants and guests,” says Rear Admiral Georg Lárusson, Chair of the ACGF and Director General of the Icelandic Coast Guard.
The exercise is hosted by the Environment Agency of Iceland and the Icelandic Coast Guard.