Russian-Norwegian rescue exercises underway in Barents Sea
© Mikhail Fomichev

Russian-Norwegian rescue exercises underway in Barents Sea

The Barents 2017 Russian-Norwegian rescue exercises have got underway in the Barents Sea. Search and rescue units of the Russian Northern Fleet are taking part in the drills during which the sides will team up for the first time ever to rehearse an oil spill emergency cleanup operation, RIA Novosti reported citing the Northern Fleet's official spokesman Captain First Class Vadim Serga.  

The Nikolai Chiker rescue and tow vessel, an IL-38 plane and a Ka-27 search and rescue helicopter will represent the Northern Fleet at Barents 2017. This year, general command of the maneuvers is being exercised by the sea rescue and coordination center of the Administration of the Murmansk Sea Port.

"Today, the search and rescue forces of the Northern Fleet involved in the Barents 2017 Russian-Norwegian maneuvers sailed off to the Barents Sea from the Northern Fleet's main base in Severomorsk. The main aim of the drills is to practice joint efforts in searching for and rescuing people in distress at sea and preventing the pollution of a water area by oil products in the context of the intensive industrial development of the Arctic. For the first time ever, search and rescue units of the Northern Fleet will participate in rehearsing emergency response and cleanup efforts for a fuel spill," Captain Serga said.

Joining Barents 2017 will be units of the Murmansk branches of the Administration of Western Arctic Sea Ports rescue and coordination center, the Sea Rescue Service of the Russian Federal Agency for Maritime and River Transport (Rosmorrechflot), the State Air Traffic Management Corporation and other organizations.

The Norwegian side will send ships, vessels and planes of the Joint Rescue and Coordination Center of Northern Norway, the coastal administration, the coast guard, units from air traffic management centers and services in the cities of Vardø, Bodø, Vadsø and Kirkenes, and other government structures.        

The Barents exercises are the only joint search and rescue drills conducted by Russia and Norway in the Arctic region on an annual basis. They are held under a bilateral intergovernmental agreement on cooperation in searching for missing people and people in distress at sea, which was signed on October 4, 1995. Russia and Norway exercise command of the maneuvers by rotation.

The Northern Fleet's Pamir tow vessel and Russian planes and helicopters participated in last year's Barents drills under Norway's command.