Arctic SAR Exercise Gathers Cruise Industry and Stakeholders

More than 80 representatives from the Arctic expedition cruise industry, the search and rescue sector and academia participated in a Joint Arctic Search and Rescue (SAR) Workshop and Tabletop Exercise in Reykjavik this week, according to a statement.

It was the fourth such event, organized by the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO), the Icelandic Coast Guard (ICG) and the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre North Norway (JRCC NN). 

The tabletop exercise was developed and led by the Canadian Coast Guard. The goal of this year’s exercise was to determine the challenges, constraints and opportunities for passengers and personnel to survive a period of time stranded on land in a remote area away from the expedition cruise vessel and to evaluate and execute options for self and assisted rescue, according to a statement.

Cruise operators and search and rescue responders were grouped together by region into four groups covering Svalbard, Iceland, Arctic Canada and Faroe Islands. The groups were asked to respond to the incident as it would play out in their respective area. The scenario centered on a group of 66 cruise passengers prevented from returning to the ship due to sea ice after a small boat excursion.

The situation was then further complicated by bad weather and medical issues. 

The event was attended by seventeen AECO members and SAR entities from Canada, Iceland, Greenland, Faroe Islands, Svalbard, mainland Norway and Sweden. 

“We see that joint exercises helps cruise operators and SAR responders understand each other’s procedures, capabilities, concerns and perspectives. It gives everyone involved a better understanding of the resources we have at our disposal,” said AECO Executive Director Frigg Jørgensen.

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