Hazardous and noxious substances (HNS) training to help ships with chemical cargo accidents at sea

In early 2018 representatives from Fire and Rescue New South Wales (FRNSW) and AMSA boarded the containership ANL Warragul for a three day voyage to test the hazardous and noxious substances (HNS) reconnaissance capability.

The HNS reconnaissance capability is designed to combat spills of dangerous goods aboard vessels at sea off the Australian coast. When a vessel reports an unknown spill on board, a small team of HAZMAT officers from FRNSW and an AMSA maritime casualty officer can be deployed to the vessel to identify the chemical; and any associated threat. This information is used to help inform decision makers back on land as to the next cause of action.

Australia has signed up to the IMO OPRC-HNS Protocol that obligates Australia to have a response capability at sea for such incidents. Australia is one of the few countries that have a full capability for dealing with such scenarios. This is the third exercise to test Australia’s capability with each exercise increasing in scale. The first exercise was held in 2016 and involved the reconnaissance team boarding the Australian coastal vessel Island Trader off the coast of Port Macquarie. The second involved a simulated spill aboard the Spirit of Tasmania while crossing the Bass Strait.


Two Hazmat officers from FRNSW in orange Hazmat suits walking towards us  

Two Hazmat officers from FRNSW in orange Hazmat suits bending over a chemical drum    

AMSA Officer pointing two FRNSW officers down a corridor

aken from the upper deck of a cargo ship looking over containers and the sunset

Last updated: 28 October 2020