This was the main topic for key participants, planners and the evaluation team when they gathered for a seminar at the Danish Ministry of Defense in Viborg, Denmark.
– Exercise SCOPE 2017 is not over until we have conducted a thorough evaluation and given our recommendations in a way forward plan, “says project manager Stig Wahlstrøm. The final evaluation report will be ready on 1st of May and the input from the participants at the seminar is an important part of the background data. Already, the feedback suggests that the comprehensive planning phase before exercise SCOPE were crucial to the success of the exercise. Many have also emphasized that the exercise gave good training in practical operations and procedures, not least in coordinating efforts from Norwegian, Swedish and Danish resources.
Evaluation creates better practice
“We have learned a lot about the planning and implementation of a major exercise through SCOPE 2017. Now we also know how crucial it is to make good evaluations, to ensure we are still getting better practice,” says Wahlstrøm. The findings in the evaluation report and plan for follow-up will be documented and presented in September 2018.
When Kirsti Slotsvik, director general of the Norwegian Coastal Administration, opened the SCOPE 2017 exercise by encouraging participants to “dare to fail and then talk about it, because this the best way to learn as it allows for a better exchange of experience and expertise”, observers from over 40 countries sat up and took notice.
This is according to the Norwegian observer Dag Svindseth, who is the fire chief of the Østre Agder fire brigade and leader of the intermunicipal committee for preventing acute pollution (IUA) in Aust-Agder county. It was clear to him that Slotsvik’s exhortation to dare to make mistakes – and to talk about them openly – was something the international observers were not accustomed to hearing.
“As I see it, this was the Norwegian tradition of voluntary communal work – dugnad – being expressed in practice,” Svindseth says.
“And it was noticed in a positive way. This is something that many people probably think, but it’s something else to articulate it and promote such an idea in such a major exercise. That said, it does seem a natural conclusion that that is in fact the right way to learn from exercises.”
Director General Kirsti Slotsvik says it was important for her to underline that trust was needed in order to get the most out of the exercise, which focused on oil and chemical protection at sea.
“It is precisely trust that is at the heart of the Nordic model, and such trust is needed in order to dare to make mistakes,” Slotsvik says.
“And this in turn gives us knowledge that may prove decisive when it really counts.”
She finds it highly interesting to hear reactions to the Nordic practice of cooperation, and she is not unfamiliar with the response from other nations. It was therefore important for her to highlight this theme and encourage participants to dare to make mistakes and subsequently report such mistakes.
Crucial with openness
Project manager for SCOPE 2017, Stig Wahlstrøm, sais that trust and openness were important in the planning process – but is also important in the evaluation that is currently taking place.
“Now in the evaluation phase, we must dare to talk openly about what we have experienced, both positive and negative findings so that we can strengthen our shared preparedness. In this way we can work on follow-ups and plan future exercises with correct objectives” says Wahlstrøm.
First the job, then the discussion
Dag Svindseth had plenty of time to speak with the other observers, who were experts in their various fields and who spent several hours together on one of the ships. This gave them time to discuss and comment what they saw during the joint exercise. Their impression was that the tasks were solved without discussion, as such discussions could wait until later on.
“We saw that also the international cooperation was at a high level, with participants from many nationalities contributing to the task,” Svindseth notes.
“This testified to a spirit of ‘let’s take care of the job first, then we’ll discuss common approaches and solutions afterwards’.”
This was noticed by the Americans, who are otherwise used to cooperation being something that is laid down in agreements but that rarely engenders specific, physical tasks that need solving.
“Seeing German, Danish, Swedish, and Norwegian vessels harmoniously solving tasks together at sea, with a deployment of a Norwegian crew onto a Swedish boat from a Norwegian helicopter, made an impression.”
A well-organized exercise
Svindseth, who has over 20 years of experience from the Norwegian Armed Forces, feels the organizers did a good job of setting things up so the observers could see a variety of operations and personnel during the exercise, which lasted 36 hours.
“The programme was worthwhile for the observers,” Svindseth says.
“They were able to see a good deal on an operational level, whether they were observing participants out conducting tests, at sea, during the beach action, or diving nearby the disabled vessel, with two RITS groups [maritime rescue units] working together at the same place – that’s worth its weight in gold. Usually you have enough to do yourself during the exercise, without incorporating other partner units in addition.”
Challenging information flow
Gathering the observers together on a single ship greatly enabled them to build relations and engage in professional discussions. Svindseth feels that a better information flow would have increased the educational value, and that more information should have been offered over the communication system, something that did in fact improve during the exercise.
“Things became much better when the intercom started to be actively used, so that everyone grasped what was going on outside,” Svindseth notes. “The news bulletins that were broadcast on the monitors also helped us understand the scope of the event if it had been real, but unfortunately only a few of the observers were able to hear the sound.”
Important to practise over time
He also adds that what the participants from the various fire brigades and IUA committees appreciated in particular was the fact that the exercise took place over time.
“That is exactly what will happen in a real-life situation, and when you practise over time, you see certain roles that must be filled over the course of several watches, and not just for a few hours, but for several days,” Svindseth says.
The Norwegian Coastal Administration (NCA) has developed new, digital map solutions to ensure more efficient oil protection actions, “Kystinfo Beredskap” (Coastal Contingency Info). During the SCOPE 2017 exercise, the developers and users were able to explore whether the tool meets the requirements when it really matters.
The time from the discovery of an oil spill until the actual oil protection action at sea and on land has commenced determines the degree of damage to the environment. Previously, a message concerning an oil spillage led to experts having to travel into the field with pen and paper and then process the data using an advanced mapping solution when they returned. At best the action team leaders would receive the information they needed on the same evening, allowing them to prioritise the action areas.
Coastal Contingency Info allows field registration via a mobile unit with an advanced map solution that the action team leaders are able to access immediately. An equivalent solution has also been developed for the public, providing easily accessible information from the NCA’s emergency web in an incident.
The Geodata Service and the Preparedness Centre at the NCA have collaborated with NOFO (The Norwegian Clean Seas Association for Operating Companies) and Avinet to create a new digital tool providing valuable time savings during an oil protection action
The use of Coastal Contingency Info during the SCOPE 2017 exercise enabled both the action team leaders and those following using Kystverket.no’s emergency web to follow the incidents and receive ongoing information from the field.
“The latest development of the mapping solution concentrates on putting together data from many sources in the map in close to real time: satellite pictures, data gathered by LN-KYV and others. These are put together like pieces in a puzzle in Coastal Contingency Info,” says senior adviser Silje Berger from NCA.
She explains that environmental data and preparedness data, such as a summary of vessel availability and depots, also form part of this puzzle. Being able to view data from many sources in the same map provides a better understanding of the situation than seeing each piece of information separately.
Better overall understanding
“During the SCOPE 2017 exercise there was much emphasis on trajectory calculations that can now be shown in the same map. This provides opportunities for forward thinking and being in advance of the situation as it develops. In other words: the aim is a better overall understanding for the action team leaders and everyone we cooperate with, which in turn can mean better decisions,” says Berger.
Rune Bergstrøm, the action team leader during the exercise, explains that as an action team leader it is very important to have as up-to-date information as possible of the situation in the field. Where is the oil, in what direction is it drifting, what vulnerable areas are affected and which ones can be hit in a short time? Where are the preparedness resources, do we need to move them quickly, or get hold of more resources to take action with?
“An updated summary in a map, including input from the inter-municipal committees for acute pollution, response leader sea and our own function managers, provides the best basis to take the right decisions at the right time. In this way we can prevent and limit the damage to the environment. During the SCOPE 2017 exercise, my experience was that this solution goes a long way towards meeting these requirements,” says Bergstrøm.
Worked under pressure
The manager of the planning and environment section at NCA, Even Widerøe Kristoffersen, can now relax, since in his view Coastal Contingency Info passed the acid test.“
We experienced that in a pressure situation the solution was not a burden but a simplification of the work for our people in the field and this in turn made it less demanding to get a correct picture of the situation at the place of the incident,” says Widerøe Kristoffersen.
Many technical environments at the NCA have contributed to the development of the system:
The Preparedness Centre: the Preparedness Centre, based in Horten, works mainly with environmental, operational and material questions connected to national preparedness against acute pollution. The centre handles the NCA’s first-line emergency preparedness against acute pollution, including supervision and follow-up of pollution incidents.
The Geodata Service: the technical, coordinating responsibility for GIS and geodata within NCA has been delegated to the Geodata Service at the Centre for Transport Planning, Plan and Investigation (TPU), which is a part of NCA South-East, Arendal. The Geodata Service is responsible for the development and operation of the NCA’s common geodata infrastructure (databases, map servers, client solutions, map catalogue and downloading solutions) and follow-up of standardising work, as well as being the contact point for Norway’s digital cooperation and the secretariat for the NCA’s geodata committee.
To ensure adequate oil spill preparedness, practice is also needed on the “invisible” parts of an oil spill response operation. Following the major exercise SCOPE 2017, the Norwegian Coastal Administration therefore arranged two exercises focusing on places of refuge for ships and claims management.
There was a great deal of interest in the Coastal Administration’s two tabletop exercises on the less visible parts of the oil spill preparedness. (Photo: the Norwegian Coastal Administration)
A ship collision causing significant pollution will initiate a number of processes and operations from governmental, municipal and private parties. Various factors can greatly affect the outcome both before, during and after the accident itself. Therefore, based on the scenario used in SCOPE 2017, two tabletop exercises were conducted in cooperation with the European Commission and EMSA (European Maritime Safety Agency).
Use of emergency ports (places of refuge for ships)
One exercise posed challenges related to the use of places of refuge for ships. This was the third exercise in an EU context, based on the use of guidelines on how authorities, the EU and other parties involved should cooperate in dealing with ship incidents where places of refuge for ships are needed. The guidelines contain practical descriptions on how to handle such incidents best, even if they occur on the open sea.
To make the exercise as realistic as possible, representatives from marine insurance, class societies and salvage companies participated in the exercise. In playing their respective roles, they contributed to the efficient and smooth handling of the incident. In addition to representatives from the maritime industry, country representatives from all over the EU participated in the exercise, as well as delegates from the EU Commission and EMSA.
Responsibilities, collateral and claims management
The theme of the second exercise focussed on the need to clarify who is responsible for the accident and to ensure that the authorities could claim back their operational expenses. The tabletop exercise was organized in cooperation with members of an EMSA working group.
In total, there were 44 representatives from various authorities responsible for the prevention of acute pollution at sea in Europe, as well as representatives of EMSA, the oil disaster fund IOPC Funds and The International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation (ITOPF).
During both exercises, the working groups identified lessons learned and areas of improvements, which will be addressed going forward. The Coastal Administration will work on and coordinate the matters, both nationally and internationally.
Places of refuge for ships. A port used when the weather is too dangerous for vessels, cargo and crew, when illness makes it necessary to bring people to shore, when supplies are exhausted, or when damage cannot be repaired on board.
Government action and claims managament: The Norwegian Coastal Administration may, if necessary, take measures on behalf of the responsible polluter, and demand reimbursement for the costs incurred during an operation. “The polluter pays” is an internationally recognized principle.
SCOPE (Skagerak Chemical Oilspill Pollution Exercise) 2017 is a joint project of the Nordic countries, co-funded by the European Union, and is organised by the Norwegian Coastal Administration (NCA).
The exercise was conducted over three days and involved 600 people and 30 vessels. The exercise scenario involved a simulated collision between a chemical tanker and an oil tanker, which resulted in oil and ammonia gas leakage in an environmentally sensitive area in Norway’s Telemark county.
SCOPE 2017 comprised a full-scale ground deployment and incident management exercise. The NCA mobilized government, municipal and private resources, and requested international assistance to deal with the pollution incident.
Johan Marius Ly, NCA’s Director of Emergency Response, said, “Good coordination across neighboring countries and various organizations is essential to respond swiftly and capably to major spill incidents. Indeed, multi stakeholder efforts to conduct joint spill exercises like SCOPE 2017 will help to improve our spill response strategies.”
“I am pleased to say the SCOPE 2017 exercise went as planned and demonstrated our collective readiness and capabilities in the event of such an occurrence. I wish to thank all stakeholders – government agencies, the EU, ship operators and public and private sector resource units – for making this exercise possible. It demonstrates that we, together, have well coordinated and competent response teams on all levels.”
“The SCOPE 2017 exercise is a good opportunity for us to hone our response strategies and share best practices,” added NCA’s Stig Walhstrøm, project manager for the exercise. “It enabled us to test ourselves and there’s been a high level of learning and competence sharing throughout the planning phase and actual exercise.”
Walhstrøm also pointed out that one of the key goals of the project is to forge critical national and international cooperation. “All participating nations and organisations have taken the opportunity to train in leadership and collaboration, and it’s pleasing to see their strong interest and engagement throughout the exercise, which was carried out with no accidents.”
The SCOPE 2017 project is now entering the evaluation phase and is expected to continue until the end of 2018.
“We have established an evaluation team and they have been tasked to identify lessons learned and areas of improvements. All participants are encouraged to provide feedback so that the we, collectively, are able to further improve our strategies and practices to raise the overall level of safety in our waters,” concludes Walhstrøm.
On Tuesday 26 September a major oil and chemical protection exercise called SCOPE 2017 will be carried out in Langesund, Norway. H.R.H. Crown Prince Haakon will join the Coastal Administration, both on sea and shore, to witness the spill response first hand. The exercise is a joint project including major Scandinavian and European stakeholders, and will demonstrate how the Coastal Administration engages with them in the event of acute pollution.
Coastal Director Kirsti L. Slotsvik and Contingency Director Johan Marius Ly look forward to showing H.R.H. Crown Prince Haakon how the Coastal Administration trains and handles oil and chemical pollution protection along the Norwegian coast – this time in connection with SCOPE 2017, which is supported by EU.
This exercise, organised by the Coastal Administration, will be conducted 25–27 September, and involve around 500 participants from the Nordic countries. Also, the worst-case scenario will involve vessels, personnel and equipment from many parts of Europe. Representatives from over 70 countries have been invited to observe the exercise.
Response exercise on all levels
The SCOPE 2017 exercise will involve local contingency forces and personnel who were active during the Full City accident that occurred in the same area in July 2009. Telemark’s Intermunicipal Emergency Response Organisation (IUA) will have a deputy function on shore, while Vestfold’s IUA will also participate in the exercise.
On 26 September, H.R.H. Crown Prince Haakon will observe the Norwegian contingency forces and witness how they respond and cooperate on all levels, including coordination between the Coastal Administration’s operational management and the national, regional and municipal participants.
“I greatly appreciate that the Crown Prince accepted my invitation, and thus will experience the important work being done to strengthen the emergency response to acute pollution along our entire coast,” says Coastal Director Kirsti L. Slotsvik.
Minister of Transport to attend SCOPE 2017
The Crown Prince will be guided by the Coastal Administration and the Norwegian Minister of Transport, Ketil Solvik-Olsen.
The simulated exercise will commence at sea, where a major chemical tanker will collide with a product tanker. This will lead to chemical and oil spill pollution on a scale much greater than Norway has previously dealt with. As a consequence, there will be a need for assistance from Norway’s neighbouring countries, with whom they have cooperation agreements.
International cooperation requires practice
“With increased shipping traffic, the risk of accidents also increases, so we need to practice different scenarios. The international dimension of the exercise is also very important. Both during the Full City grounding in 2009 and the Godafoss accident in 2011, we needed assistance from Sweden. Norway and the other countries participating in this exercise will all be dependent on good cooperation across borders, should such an accident occur in our common waters,” emphasises Contingency Director Johan Marius Ly.
Increasing ship traffic
Over the past year, 359 vessels over 50 metres in length passed the strait between Stathelle and Sandøya and, during 2016, 4,524 ships passed through the waters. From January to June of this year, 2,408 vessels passed, according to the Coastal Administration’s analysis unit in Vardø. Based on this development, Contingency Director Ly believes the exercise location off Langesund is relevant and important.
“It will be a full-scale exercise and will take place both in daylight and during night time, and will therefore be very realistic for all involved,” he says.
Program for the day
The Crown Prince will arrive at Langesund on the morning of 26 September, and will then go directly to the Coast Guard’s vessel KV Bergen.
When at sea, he will observe specially trained firefighters from Oslo and Bergen who will be deployed to the Swedish chemical safety vessel KBV 003 by helicopter or vessel. From there, they will go onboard a smaller boat and enter the chemical tanker to seal leakages, allow for towing the vessel to shore, and prevent oil spill at sea and along the coast. This will continue throughout the day.
At 0740, the press will go onboard the Coastal Administration’s vessel at Dampskipskaia/Langesund pilot station, and will experience the same exercise as witnessed by the Crown Prince. The plan is to arrive back at the dock of the pilot station at about 1130. From here it is a short distance (about 300m) to Smietangen where a press briefing will take place 1200.
At 1200, the Crown Prince and his attendants will arrive at Smietangen quay, where boats are equipped with various types of oil spill containment equipment. Contingency Director Ly will hold a presentation for those attending.
Questions from the press can be directed to Contingency Director Johan Marius Ly, Coastal Director Kirsti L. Slotsvik and Minister of Transport and Communications Ketil Solvik-Olsen
At about 1230 we will move on to Krogshavn recreational area, where the Coastal Administration’s Environment Advisor Hilde Dolva and IUA Telemark’s Jan O. Kristoffersen will share experiences in connection with the Full City accident, and demonstrate the current means to break up and collect spills.
The arrangement at Krogshavn will end at about 1300.
Updated images will be made available to the media here
Theme pages about the SCOPE 2017 exercise here
For safety reasons, the Coastal Administration requires the names of the journalists who wish to attend by latest 11:00 on 20 September. There is limited space so if the interest is greater than that we have capacity for, we will need to prioritize. Those who are unable to join the exercise will be informed by 22 September.
Registration queries should be addressed to the Coastal Administration, attention: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo: Jørgen Gomnæs / Det kongelige hoff.
Photo of vessels: Espen Reite
Collage: Marianne Henriksen
The Swedish Coastguard looks forward to working with the Norwegian Coastal Administration during the major exercise Scope 2017 in the Skagerrak to explore how emergency response can be improved and collaboration between countries during an action optimised.
“Our aim is to increase our knowledge of what we can do together with Norway in the event of a major oil or chemical spill,” says Jonas Holmstrand, who is a rescue organiser with the Swedish Coast Guard.
A good test
He has only been with the Coast Guard for six months, but he was responsible for all the exercises of one of Sweden’s municipal rescue services for 20 years. He explains that the Swedish Coast Guard has annual exercises in connection with the Copenhagen Agreement and the SweDenGer Agreement between Sweden, Denmark and Germany, as well as its own exercises. There are continuous national exercises.
“I believe the exercise in Langesund will be a good test of how we handle an incident of the type we have planned and we can all achieve a great deal from it. The scope of the exercise is realistic, in terms of the number of countries involved, the personnel and the vessels.
If we in Europe are to prepare ourselves for effective, large-scale initiatives, we must exercise together using a corresponding number of units,” says Holmstrand,
pointing out what would have to be done as a minimum in the event of a real incident of the same extent as the SCOPE 2017 scenario.
Following the sequence of events
His colleague, senior adviser Örjan Martinsson, adds that collaborative exercises are essential, since no country could handle a really major incident alone.
“And a real incident doesn’t keep office hours, it continues round the clock. So we must be able to keep the effort going throughout the sequence of events,” says Martinsson.
The Swedish Coast Guard has now started the countdown to the exercise, in which it will cooperate closely with MIRG (the Maritime Incident Response Group) in Norway and participate with its oil spill response vessel KBV 003.
Aim for the Swedish Coastguard:
Contribute to improved national and international coordination of vessel accidents involving hazardous and polluting cargo.
Decontamination of Swedish Coastguard 003 (Chemrec vessel) with crew from 003 and personnel from FOI
Arya Honarmand will participate in the full-scale, three day exercise and long after it has been conducted. For the EU Commission Exercise Officer, “SCOPE 2017 will not be completed before the gaps are closed and our preparedness is strengthened.”
Arya Honarmand is the EU’s man who oversees the collaborative exercises funded by the Commission. He is currently handling 12 exercises in different phases, which are co-financed like SCOPE 2017.
“Exercises can last for a long time. They are not over after the simulated exercise,” says Arya who commends Norway and the Nordic countries for developing good exercise projects. He believes it is important to make sure that simulated exercises are a tool for the exercise project, which, in turn, is a tool for further development and ensuring desired preparedness. This allows for a proper exercise function according to Arya.
“Lessons are never fully learned, but rather lessons identified. Risk, vulnerability, gap analyzes and trends are the basis for how the aim for exercises are developed. Then one works to fill the gaps to ensure the desired level of preparedness desired,” says Arya.
He continues, “Large and complex exercises such as SCOPE 2017 help test procedures that are well developed in order to ensure their continued validity. Some other elements in SCOPE 2017 focus on developing and exploring a new form of collaboration in order to find out how it would connect and coordinate with already established response procedures. Based on the findings, recommendations are developed and an implementation plan is set,” explains Arya.
Strong commitment and engagement
In the planning conferences leading up to the exercise, Arya praised the commitment and good collaboration between the Norwegian, Swedish and Danish authorities, including the maritime and civil protection sectors.
“I see that the multi-national participants have a very positive attitude. People are interested, engaged, and are willing to go beyond normal expectations. Clearly, there is a personal commitment and that is good to see, especially when conducting an exercise on this scale.”
Arya goes on to emphasize the importance of sound project management to allow the participants to implement plans and tasks without too much guidance beyond the scope of the exercise. The tasks are set within the framework, so it is up to the participants to perform says Arya who believes the approach provides “a very commendable mixture of structure and flexibility” for all the partners that are developing and managing the exercise project.
“In the past some clarity was needed between the participants, but this is no longer the case and there is now more awareness on what’s needed to improve,” says Arya.
Statements have been made that new knowledge should be the goal of the exercise, but Arya emphasizes that it is important to “practice, test, develop and explore what we can – and with new people. Ideally, you should work with others that you have not worked with previously, and with new nations, different languages and cultures,” he says.
“Personally, I think you cannot have a collaborative exercise where you only learn new things. The risk of learning too much (during an exercise) is that people who are not as experienced, may not be able to perform their tasks, and need trials and testing. And if they do not get their work done, we will not be able to test the system, and learn if the collaboration works,” opines Arya who firmly believes people must be able to accomplish their tasks and contribute to system building if the exercise is to help strengthen preparedness.
“The advantage of practicing known tasks with new people has been evident in the planning phases of SCOPE 2017, where this is done by experienced people. This ensured that the response system is developed and is in focus rather than the individuals taking part, thereby ensuring that the finding and improvements made are institutional and long lasting” says Arya and adds, “This becomes even more effective since people are responsive. I see a willingness and desire to improve. And there is room for open discussions.”
Effect and consequences
“A stone is a stone, but what is a stone? Perspectives can differ,” says Arya, quoting an expert who accompanied the planning group in a particularly vulnerable and protected area in Langesund, where the exercise shall be conducted in September.
“We have a legacy, a story, which adds an extra dimension, challenge to an incident. Steinvika is proof that we are not only seeing an incident but also the consequences of it,” says Arya and concludes, “It’s good to see the big picture, the effect, the impact it can have in several places. We are testing our readiness to handle our responses where even stones become important.”
See more pictures from Steinvika in this slideshow: