The National Plan sets out the cooperative arrangements between governments and industry to respond to shipping casualties and maritime pollution incidents. We manage the plan, working with Commonwealth, state, and Northern Territory governments, as well as industry and emergency services.
The National Plan is exercised on an annual basis. The exercise is a key component of National Plan capability and is useful in allowing National Plan partners the opportunity to train, practise, and reinforce their skills, training and application of procedures in a safe environment.
The 2016 exercise is being hosted by New South Wales. The exercise comprises two phases, with the first phase dealing with a chemical incident occurring on board a container vessel at sea and a subsequent request from the vessel’s master for a place of refuge in the Port of Newcastle. The second phase will consider the community impacts and cost recovery implications of a chemical spill in the Port of Newcastle.
The aim of phase one is to practice the deployment of the newly-developed Hazardous and Noxious Substance (HNS) response capability and to practice the application of National Maritime Places of Refuge Risk Assessment Guidance.
Phase one was held in the Port of Newcastle on 7 June with AMSA, Port of Newcastle, Transport for New South Wales and Fire & Rescue New South Wales personnel forming a Maritime Casualty Control Unit to manage the potential maritime casualty and to assess an appropriate place of refuge. The at-sea deployment of the AMSA/Fire & Rescue New South Wales HNS team, scheduled to be conducted off shore of Port Macquarie, was postponed due to the low pressure system that impacted much of the Australian east coast from 5-6 June. The HNS team was simulated by exercise managers in Newcastle allowing the strategic component of the exercise to be conducted as scheduled. The operational component will be re-scheduled.
Phase two of the exercise was held in Newcastle in August 2016.
An exercise report covering the entirety of the exercise will be published after the completion of phase two.
In 2015-16 we finalised a revised National Maritime Places of Refuge Risk Assessment Guidance. The guidance (available on our website) details the process for dealing with vessels in distress or in need of assistance that request a place of refuge. Now infamous incidents, such as the Prestige tanker oil spill off Spain and the Maritime Maisie chemical tanker blaze in East Asia, demonstrate the consequences of not carefully considering requests for a place of refuge.
The guidance provides for a nationally-consistent approach, and is designed to ensure that there is adequate and timely consultation between relevant stakeholders. It also addresses information needs, risk assessment, liability issues, and transfer of responsibility between jurisdictions. The guidance notes the role of AMSA Search and Rescue, Australia’s ‘Maritime Assistance Service’ for the purposes of IMO Resolutions A.949(23) and A.950(23), and the overriding powers of the Maritime Emergency Response Coordinator (MERCOM) in regard to maritime incidents.
The guidance builds on the existing good working relationships between the Australian Government and state/Northern Territory maritime response agencies. Following extensive consultation with states/NT and industry and port representatives, the guidance was endorsed by the National Plan Strategic Coordination Committee on 12 November 2015.
Spillcon 2016, the international oil spill conference for the Asia-Pacific region, was held from 2-6 May 2016 in Perth, Western Australia. The conference attracted just under 400 domestic and international attendees who joined the presentation sessions, exhibition, on-water display and networking functions over the week-long event.
The Spillcon exhibition was incredibly popular as it was a chance to view the latest products, technologies and services in oil spill management.
The conference program was made up of 12 sessions based on oil spill cause and prevention, preparedness, environmental and community impacts, response management and recovery.
Notable highlights were the keynote speakers Air Chief Marshal Sir Angus Houston AK, AFC (Retd) on ‘Leading across boundaries’, Former Assistant Secretary to President Obama for Intergovernmental Affairs at the Department of Homeland Security, Juliette Kayyem on ‘Crisis leadership in extreme events’ and social media expert Trefor Munn-Venn on ‘Using social media to communicate in disaster’.