Baltic Marine Environment
Protection Commission

BALEX DELTA 2020: Regional response to major maritime incidents is being tested in Estonian waters

Estonian helicopter landing on Finnish vessel Turva during the BALEX DELTA 2020 exercise.
Photo: Marit Mätik/Ministry of Interior of Estonia

The 2020 edition of the annual BALEX DELTA exercise is taking place today, 26 August 2020 off the coast of Tallinn, Estonia, testing the readiness of the Baltic Sea countries to respond to major maritime incidents such as oil and chemical spills.

This year, the exercise scenario will involve a collision between two oil tankers in Estonian waters, simulating a large-scale pollution event with a spill of 200 tonnes of oil and missing crew members at sea, triggering a search and rescue (SAR) action. 

Besides host Estonia providing several ships and equipment including a surveillance plane and a helicopter, Denmark, the EU, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania and Sweden are also participating and sending vessels.

“Major accidents are not frequent in the Baltic Sea but BALEX DELTA is one of the tools at our disposal to keep us ready for the worst case,” said Markus Helavuori who oversees response activities at HELCOM.

The BALEX DELTA exercises have been held every year since 1989 to check and improve the operational capacity and skills of the Baltic Sea countries to respond to maritime incidents affecting the waters of HELCOM countries. 

They help the HELCOM countries “to maintain the ability to respond to pollution incidents threatening the marine environment of the Baltic Sea Area” as formulated in the Annex VII on Response to Pollution Incidents of the Helsinki Convention.

During the exercises, both ships, cleaning equipment and procedures required for response operations at sea and on the shore are tested.

The BALEX DELTA 2020 edition is coordinated by the Estonian Police and Border Guard. The exercise is Estonia’s third, with previous ones held in 1997 and 2007.

The Ministers of the Interior of both Estonia and Finland are also attending the exercise.  

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