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On April 5 or 6, a cruise ship is going to run into trouble somewhere in the Arctic.
The message to responders will be something along the lines of: “An expeditionary cruise vessel with 300 persons on board has sustained an engine room fire close to the coast of remote Jan Mayen in the Arctic Ocean. Drifting towards the shore, the ship hits a rock and begins taking on water, then settles on the seabed and is in danger of capsizing. A lifeboat with 150 persons overturns while attempting a landing on the beach, resulting in five people getting lost in the sea and another five lying lifeless on the beach.”
The incident above, though contrived, is going to repeat itself. Fortunately, the operations room for this disaster will be a conference room in Reykjavík, during the Second Joint Arctic SAR Workshop and TTX (short for table-top exercise, a type of simulation) being put on by Aeco, a cruise-operators’ association.
The point of the meeting, however, is to ensure that, should such an incident occur in real life, responders, ship operators and other authorities are ready.
Those who attended the first workshop found they were not. But, having all the groups that would take part in response sit in the same room was considered a success, according to Aeco, since it helped to get a better idea of what each could – and could not do – in the event of an emergency.
Such events are becoming increasingly important as cruise tourism in the North grows. As the first event of its type after the coast guards of the Arctic states signed an agreement outlining the practicalities of search and rescue in the region, there will be additional interest in its findings.
Imagination, in this case, will provide an important source of knowledge.