Norwegian and Russian SAR Actors Meet in Kirkenes

Are we prepared to handle a situation where hundreds of people may be at risk in Arctic waters? That is one of the key issues at the conference. This image shows one of the Hurtigruten ships during a voyage along the Northwest passage. (Illustration: Hurtigruten)
Norwegian representatives constitute a majority when Norwegian and Russian Search and Rescue actors meet in Kirkenes to practice their skills next week.

Norwegian representatives constitute a majority when Norwegian and Russian Search and Rescue actors meet in Kirkenes to practice their skills next week.

Among the 80 conference delegates, there are 70 Norwegians and a Russian delegation of 10 when the search and rescue conference takes place from 5-8 March. During the conference, one of the items on the agenda will be a tabletop exercise concerning a fictional accident in Arctic waters.

Cruise traffic in the Arctic is increasing, and for instance is Hurtigruten planning to offer expedition cruises from Tromsø via Murmansk to Franz Joseph Land and Svalbard in the coming years.

Also read: Hurtigruten goes to Russia 

The Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (JRCC) Northern Norway is responsible for planning the conference.

On the Norwegian side, SAR actors from both local, regional and national levels participate.

Among the participants are members of the SAR management at the two JRCC’s in Norway, representatives from the 330 and 333 squadrons (SAR helicopters), the Coastguard, the Norwegian Society for Sea Rescue, the Norwegian Coastal Administration, the Norwegian Aviation Administration, the Norwegian Air Ambulance, the Norwegian Armed Forces’ Joint Headquarter, and the Norwegian Directorate for Civil Protection.

Participants further include the Police, the Norwegian Civil Defence, preparedness operatives from various municipalities and counties as well as ER personnel and representatives from the cruise industry.

From the Russian side, participants include representatives from the sea rescue central in Murmansk, operatives in charge of managing oil spill and environmental pollution, representatives from the SAR division of the Northern Fleet as well as representatives from the air rescue central in St. Petersburg.

- Even though the relationship between Norway and Russia can be tense at times on a political level, the long-standing and good cooperation about search and rescue operations on both Norwegian and Russian side of the border in the Barents Sea continues, says Departmental Director Bent Ove Jamtli of the JRCC Northern Norway in a press release.

High North News has asked him why Russian participation at the conference is so low this year, in comparison with the Norwegian attendance, but so far we have not received an answer from the JRCC.

On Wednesday 7 March, the drill management team is to plan and agree on a protocol for the large, annual SAR and oil spill protection drill Exercise Barents, which is to take place in the outer parts of the Varanger Fjord on 30 May, says JRCC Northern Norway.

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