Response Group (HELCOM RESPONSE)
The maritime traffic in the Baltic Sea is intense, has grown remarkably during the recent years, and is predicted to grow also in the future. There are more than 2000 sizable ships at sea at any time. In 2010, vessels entered or left the Baltic Sea via Skav 56,564 times (figure representing the number of crossings through a pre-defined AIS line in Skav). This figure has increased by more than 10% since 2006. Additionally, heavy traffic goes through a 98-kilometer long Kiel Canal. The oil transportation is predicted to increase, especially in the Gulf of Finland, due to the construction and expansion of Russian oil terminals. The amount of oil turnover in the 16 largest oil terminals of the Baltic Sea has been growing each year and reached more than 250 mln tones in 2008. The increasing density of shipping and rapidly rising amounts of oil being transported by sea mean that the risk of an accident involving serous oil pollution will increase correspondingly,
unless counteractive measures are implemented.
HELCOM RESPONSE at work
The Group works:
- to ensure swift national and international response to maritime pollution incidents
- to ensure that in case of an accident the right equipment is available and routines are in place to respond immediately in co-operation with neighbouring states
- to analyse developments in maritime transportation around the Baltic and investigate possible impacts on international cooperation with regard to pollution response
- to coordinate the aerial surveillance of maritime shipping routes to provide a complete picture of sea-based pollution around the Baltic, and to help identify suspected polluters
HELCOM RESPONSE coordinates two joint aerial surveillance flights a year as well as other operational exercises to combat pollution.
HELCOM RESPONSE organises regular meetings involving officials responsible for responding to pollution incidents at sea and representatives from inter-governmental organisations and non-governmental organisations.
HELCOM RESPONSE works closely with other relevant international bodies including BONN Agreement, and the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), to ensure international measures are suitably applied and implemented in the Baltic.
In order to ensure the co-operation in case of a pollution incident the Contracting Parties regularly carry out out exercises. The exercises range from "paper" exercises to operational exercises.
Most famous are the BALEX DELTA exercises, which test the alarm procedures and response capability of the Contracting Parties in case of a major accident and an international response operation. The general objective of the BALEX DELTA exercises is to ensure that every Contracting Party is able to lead a major response operation. BALEX DELTA exercises take place each year and are hosted by the Contracting Parties according to an agreed schedule.
International operational exercises with participation of all Baltic Sea States (BALEX DELTA)
- 2000 Russia: 5 countries, 12 ships, 1 aircraft;
- 2001 Denmark: 7 countries, 11 ships, 2 aircraft;
- 2002 Latvia: 6 countries, 18 ships, 2 aircraft;
- 2003 Finland: 5 countries, 16 ships;
- 2004 Germany: 6 countries, 11 ships, 1 aircraft (watch the film);
- 2005 Sweden: 7 countries, 19 ships, 2 aircraft (watch the film);
- 2006 Poland: 7 countries + EMSA, 23 ships, 3 aircraft (watch the film);
- 2007 Estonia: 6 countries + EMSA, 17 ships, 1 helicopter (watch the film);
- 2008 Russia: 6 countries + EMSA, 18 ships, 2 helicopters;
- 2009 Latvia: 5 countiries + EMSA, 8 ships;
- 2010 Lithuania: 7 countries + EMSA, 7 ships;
- 2011 Denmark: 8 countries + EMSA, 14 ships, 1 aircraft.
Chairman of HELCOM RESPONSE
Mr. Bernt Stedt
Swedish Coast Guard HQ
P.O. Box 536
Phone: +46 455353453
Fax: +46 45510521
Mr. Hermanni Backer
Phone: +358 46 8509199
Fax: +358 207 412 645