EXERCISE Paihere is underway on Auckland’s Waitematā Harbour with 120 National Response Team (NRT) members responding to a (fictional) collision between two commercial vessels in the shipping channel with an attendant oil spill of 100 tonnes (also fictional).
Maritime NZ is leading the exercise, which is planned to continue through to 19 April.
The NRT comprises personnel from Maritime NZ, councils, industry, Massey University and contracted services.
Participants are to carry out on-water operations using recovery vessels and equipment, simulated oiled shoreline clean-up, oiled wildlife recovery and stabilisation, as well as manned and unmanned aircraft deployment for reconnaissance and intelligence gathering.
Exercise co-ordinator Mick Courtnell said this was the first occasion where the NRT is bringing all its functions together, although it trains annually.
“The valuable learnings will contribute to future training objectives and will enhance NZ’s maritime preparedness and response capability,” he said.
“Preparedness is important as a maritime incident may have consequences for port operations, shipping movements and other commercial operations, as well as recreational activity, the environment and the economy.”
The exercise will be testing parts of the New Zealand Marine Oil Spill Response Strategy and some of the more detailed response plans that support the strategy.
Mr Courtnell said international partners would attend, observe and provide critical feedback.
“Their involvement will enhance the learnings and provide an international context,” he said.