Baltic Marine Environment
Protection Commission

Small Danish vessel brings Atlantic spirit to HELCOM Balex Delta 2016

​​​​​​​​​Danish Naval Home Guard vessel MHV 904 Lyø sails 700 nautical miles with 12 crew from Esbjerg on the Danish Atlantic coast to participate in HELCOM oil response exercise off Klaipeda in the Baltic Sea Anyone who has participated or observed a HELCOM Balex Delta oil spill exercise cannot have missed the fleet of small but efficient Danish vessels, towing booms and darting between the bigger vessels. The Danish MHV904 was designated as a surprise team leader in the middle of the oil spill exercise, here towing the boom front left. Photo: Konrad Wrzecionkowski/WWF Poland.These vessels are a part of the Naval Home Guard, staffed with volunteers who often have another full time job. But make no mistake: these are no ordinary volunteers. They are true enthusiasts, many of whom spend another forty hour working week on board their vessels, resulting in highly professional and motivated crews. By a chance HELCOM Secretariat ended up sitting around the same table with the crew of Lyø – one of these Danish home guard vessels, and was inspired by the story behind their long voyage to Klaipeda, Lithuania in June. Last autumn the vessel Lyø, with home pier in Esbjerg, a town on the Atlantic side of Jutland, Denmark, received an invitation from the central office of Naval Home Guard to participate in the 2016 HELCOM Balex Delta in Lithuania. After some consideration the team replied that they would be willing to participate for the first time in this Baltic Sea exercise, despite the long distances. The crew of Lyø, including Frederik Michael Hansen and Kent Jensen pictured here, were happy that the weather was mild all through the way to Klaipeda. Photo: Christian Lindegaard Petersen/HVF 131Preparations for the week-long travel to the exercise took its time. “This kind of relatively long voyage takes long time to prepare. We needed to ensure that we have the right competence on board. In addition, many of us have full time jobs on the side and vacations need to be arranged,” says Communication officer of Lyø, Christina Hald-Andersen.Summer arrived and with it the departure to Lithuania and HELCOM Balex Delta. The voyage from Esbjerg took the crew and ship north along the Jutland coast, cutting through the Limfjorden from Thyborøn to Hals, southward to the Danish island of Bornholm and all the way to Klaipeda on the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea. The distance was in total around 700 nautical miles or 1300 km. On the way they had met the three other Danish home guard vessels and sailed in convoy the last bit across the southern Baltic.The exercise itself was a very positive experience according to Capitain Ole Thomassen pf MHV904. Photo: Konrad Wrzecionkowski/WWF Poland​”We were very lucky with the weather all the long way to Klaipeda. The ship is somewhat small so rough weather can make life tough on board. However, little waves and light winds made the passage a real pleasure,” says Hald-Andersen.The exercise itself was a very positive experience according to Capitain Ole Thomassen. “We anticipated this as a way to top up our competence as the vessel is not usually participating in oil response exercises. However, we regularly attend international Search and Rescue (SAR) exercises, organised by Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands.” “The exercise fulfilled our expectations and was really valuable for us – especially as we were designated team leaders in the second half of the exercise without any previous knowledge. This surprise made us work hard and put our skills to the test. I think we managed well taking into account the circumstances,” the capitain adds.After the exercise Lyø and the other home guard vessels spent a day in port and then set off for the homeward journey. “Next week we will be back on our daily jobs – but one very valuable experience richer,” says Deck Hand Christian Pedersen, offshore consultant in his civilian life. Capitain Ole Thomassen (left) receives  the “Hjemmeværnets
Fortjensttegn” from Commander Anders
Frishøj (right) in Klaipeda.  The Danish Homeguard medal is awarded after particular merits for the benefit of the Home Guard and impeccable character in the service and in private life.Photo: Christian Lindegaard Petersen/HVF 131 ​The Crew of Lyø (MHV904)Ole Thomassen, CapitainChristina Hald-Andersen, Communication officerHans Fredrik Kristensen, NavigatorKent Jensen, MedicMichael Hansen, Deck handPer Madsen, Deck HandChristian Pedersen, Deck handSv. Aage Nielsen, Deck handMargit Korsager, Deck handTorben Peytz, EngineerBirger Olesen, EngineerKim Samsoe, Cook * * *BackgroundBalex Delta operational response exercises have been held annually since 1989. Throughout this time HELCOM has steadily improved the readiness of the countries around the Baltic to jointly respond to oil spills at sea. Regional cooperation on preparedness and response to pollution incidents has however much longer roots, being a part of the first 1974 Helsinki Convention and followed by a series of related Recommendations right at the start of the permanent HELCOM activities in early 1980s.  HELCOM is an intergovernmental organization made up of the nine Baltic Sea coastal countries and the European Union. Founded in 1974, its primary aims as a governing body are to protect the marine environment of the Baltic Sea from all sources of pollution, as well as to ensure safe maritime navigation. The official name of HELCOM is the Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission; it is the governing body of the Helsinki Convention. * * * For more information, please contact:Hermanni Backer Professional Secretary for Maritime, Response and Fish groups HELCOM Tel:  +358 46 8509199 Skype: helcom02 E-mail: hermanni.backer(at)

Danish Naval Home Guard vessel MHV 904 Lyø sails 700 nautical miles with 12 crew to participate in HELCOM oil response exercise off Klaipeda in the Baltic Sea.