Baltic Marine Environment
Protection Commission

Clean up of spills in the Baltic Sea practiced in international exercise

​Sixteen oil response vessels from seven Baltic Sea coastal countries and institutions participated in HELCOM’s international response exercise ‘ 2014’ yesterday in Ventspils, Latvia. The annual exercise, carried out 25 years in a row, is of vital importance to keep up and improve skills on joint prevention of major damage from oil spills in the sea as well as on the shore of the HELCOM Contracting Parties, consisting of all the nine coastal Baltic States and the EU. Photo: HELCOMThe participating vessels, divided into four teams under the lead of the superior on scene commander Lt Sg Nauris Lakševics on-board the Latvian vessel “Varonis”, exercised laying out booms, operational formations, communication and other operational tasks at sea off the town of Ventspils. At the same time an exercise on the shore took place to rehearse response in a situation when the oil has reached the shore. The operations were carried out in mild wind and wave conditions but visibility was at times limited due to dense fog in the area. Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Sweden contributed to the exercise this year along with the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) representing the European Union. The exercise scenario stated that the collision between tanker and fishing boat had occurred in the Baltic Sea, northwards Ventspils port. Due to this accident about 10,000 tons of oil was spilt in the sea causing an environmental disaster. The scenario also states that ships won’t be able to collect all oil and some of it will wash ashore, thus participants of the exercise will be forced to test the oil spill readiness along the coastline, including saving the birds. The Exercise ‘Balex Delta’ has been organized by the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development of Latvia in cooperation with HELCOM (Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission) and the Latvian Naval Force Flotilla. More than 30 observers from several international organizations and countries outside the region also participated. Today Thursday 12 June, the general public can observe the traditional rowing competition of the HELCOM fleet, and in the afternoon the ships have open doors for public. * * * works to ensure swift national and international response to maritime pollution incidents and that in case of an accident the right equipment is available and routines are in place to respond immediately in cooperation with neighbouring states. The Group also coordinates the aerial surveillance of maritime shipping routes to provide a complete picture of sea-based pollution around the Baltic, and to help identify suspected polluters. The meetings of the HELCOM RESPONSE Group have been held regularly among all Baltic Sea countries and EU for over thirty years.The Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission, usually referred to as , is an intergovernmental organization of the nine Baltic Sea coastal countries and the European Union working to protect the marine environment of the Baltic Sea from all sources of pollution and to ensure safety of navigation in the region. Since 1974, HELCOM has been the governing body of the ‘Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea Area’, more commonly known as the Helsinki Convention. * * * For further information, please contact:Laura MazmacaState Environmental Service of Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional DevelopmentRiga, LatviaTel: +371 67408166E-mail: laura.mazmaca(at) Hermanni Backer Professional Secretary for Maritime, Response and Maritime Spatial Planning HELCOM Tel:  +358 46 8509199 Skype: helcom02 E-mail: hermanni.backer(at) Johanna Laurila Information Secretary HELCOM Tel: +358 40 523 8988 Skype: helcom70 E-mail: johanna.laurila(at)

Sixteen oil response vessels from seven Baltic Sea coastal countries and institutions participated in HELCOM’s international response exercise in Latvia.