A major exercise in implementing the national contingency plan for anti-pollution, search and rescue, and fire fighting has been held in the waters off Mahé, according to joint news from EUCAP Nestor & EUNAVFOR Atalanta.
The scenario began with a mock distress call to the Coast Guard from a Seychelles flagged vessel that had collided with a ferry just off Glacis. The collision caused an oil leak and a fire on board the vessel. A number of crewmembers abandoned the ship as it started to sink.
The Coast Guard immediately sent two speedboats and Patrol Vessel Topaz to the sinking ship, and asked the Seychelles Air Force to send an aircraft to the area. The Seychelles Port Authority sent a tug with floating booms to contain the oil spill, and the Fire and Rescue Service intervened to put out the fire. The EUNAVFOR Flagship Brandenburg, also headed towards the collision.
Together, the untis concerned in the exercise found and rescued the crewmembers and worked to prevent the ship from sinking.
“Being able to fight the oil spills is extremely important for the Seychelles,” said the Commanding Officer of the Seychelles Coast Guard, Lt Col Dine. “Our tourism industry, an integral part of our Blue Economy, must be protected from pollution.”
“Today’s exercise went very well,” said Fredrik Wesslau, acting Head of the EUCAP Nestor (Seychelles) Country Office. “This was a complex and difficult exercise involving numerous agencies. In such scenarios, it is essential that everything is well coordinated and everyone knows exactly what they should be doing.”
The lessons learnt will also be incorporated into the on-going Basic Training Programme for the Coast Guard. The environmental protection module of the six-month programme will start later in June for the benefit of trainees from the Coast Guard, Marine Police Investigation Unit, and Air Force.
EUCAP Nestor is a civilian EU mission, under the Common Security and Defence Policy, which assists countries in the Horn of Africa and the Western Indian Ocean in strengthening their capacity to ensure maritime security and in particular to fight piracy.