When ships collide on Waitemata Harbour: Exercise Paihere

15 April 2018

Maritime NZ will be leading a maritime response exercise, Exercise Paihere, on Auckland’s Waitematā Harbour on April 17-19.

Exercise Coordinator, Mick Courtnell, said 120 National Response Team (NRT) members will be taking part, from Maritime NZ, councils, industry, Massey University and contracted services.

“Activities during the exercise will include 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,” Mr Courtnell said.

“For the shoreline clean-up activities, we want residents near Little Shoal Bay to know there will be contractors using light machinery on the beach for training. Rest assured, there will be no actual oil on the beach, and no sand will be removed.

“Although the NRT trains annually, this is the first occasion where we are bringing all of the functions together. The valuable learnings will contribute to future training objectives, and will enhance NZ’s maritime preparedness and response capability.

“Preparedness is important as a maritime incident may have consequences for port operations, shipping movements, other commercial operations, as well as recreational activity, the environment, and the economy.

“Our international partners will attend, observe and provide critical feedback. Their involvement will enhance the learnings and provide an international context.”

Exercise Paihere assumes a collision between two commercial vessels in the shipping channel, with a pretend oil spill of 100 tonnes.

An emergency coordination centre (ECC) will be set up in the Auckland CBD, with a forward operations base (FOB) at the Devonport Naval Base.

The exercise will be testing parts of the New Zealand Marine Oil Spill Response Strategy and some of the more detailed response plans that support the strategy.

Maritime incident response background information

A major maritime incident will be complex, large scale, and enduring with serious actual or potential impacts and implications for New Zealand. Maritime NZ is likely to be the lead operational agency for coordinating and managing such an incident. Maritime New Zealand maintains an oil spill capability:

Oil spill equipment

  • around NZ, Maritime NZ owns 20 caches of world-class, specialist oil spill response equipment
  • the equipment is used to manage oil spills, including containment and recovery of oil, as well as protection of sensitive sites

Trained response staff

  • Maritime NZ’s Marine Pollution Response Service (MPRS) is an expert, oil spill response team, located in Auckland
  • MPRS leads the National Response Team (NRT) of 200 trained staff based around new Zealand
  • NRT is complemented by an additional 328 regional trained emergency responders
  • Massey University’s Wildbase team leads wildlife response

National and international support agreements and contracts

New Zealand has in place:

  • arrangements for immediate access to secure the services of the world’s largest oil spill response organisation, Oil Spill Response Limited
  • specialist formal contracts with international companies for salvage support, well control, oil movement modelling, oil spill response equipment and personnel
  • an extensive range of formal agreements with New Zealand government agencies for support and resources in a maritime response
  • contracts with New Zealand companies to provide vessels, aircraft, and a wide range of ground equipment and personnel
  • a mutual support agreement with the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA).

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