Auckland exercise tests National Response Team

Safe Seas Clean Seas Issue 53, July 2018

In April, 120 National Response Team members joined a Maritime NZ-led exercise on Auckland’s Waitematā Harbour to test New Zealand’s maritime accident preparedness.
Gathering of people at a control centre
Maritime New Zealand © 2019
National Response Team members pause for a briefing at the Incident Control Centre.

Exercise Paihere – a scenario involving a collision between two ships – was designed to assess the National Response Team’s capability, test the national oil spill plan, continue to enhance relationships and improve how responders work together.

“In a major maritime incident, Maritime NZ is the lead agency responsible for managing the overall response. We’d be drawing upon the skills and expertise of responders who are based around New Zealand,” says Maritime NZ Manager Maritime Security and Incident Response, Renny Van der Velde.

“We train regularly to keep the team sharp and try new tools and ways of working,” he says.

A team hoses down a shoreline block
Maritime New Zealand © 2019
A team from Auckland Council practises oil removal techniques at a shoreline clean up in Little Shoal Bay.

Activities during the exercise included on-water operations using recovery vessels and equipment, simulated ‘oiled shoreline’ clean-up, oiled wildlife recovery and stabilisation, as well as manned and unmanned aircraft deployment for reconnaissance and intelligence gathering. Salvage and investigation were also part of the exercise.

“We try to make it as close as possible to the real thing, although there’s no oil to clean up,” Van der Velde says.

Overall, the independent observers charged with reviewing proceedings were impressed with how the response was undertaken.

Van der Velde says every exercise turns up learnings and over 1,100 observations were gathered from participants, which will be fed back into improving how the team works together.

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