With the Main Exercise Evaluation report on the BALEX DELTA 2018 exercise now publicly available, insight is given into one of the world’s largest response exercises at sea dealing with oil and chemical spills that took place earlier in 2018 in Swedish waters .
According to the report, the BALEX DELTA 2018 exercise confirmed the ability of the Baltic Sea countries to carry out a joint maritime response operation of large scope and dealing with maritime incidents of high complexity.
The BALEX DELTA 2018 was particularly challenging, testing capabilities such as chemical diving, night-time oil recovery operations directed by a reconnaissance aircraft, and vessel-to-vessel lightering. It was the largest exercise ever held in the Baltic Sea, mobilizing 18 maritime vessels and about 500 personnel from eight countries and the EU.
The findings of the report may also be used to develop proposals to update the HELCOM Manual on Co-operation in Response to Marine Pollution, as well as providing recommendations for the design of future exercises.
The HELCOM Manual is recommended to be used as guidance when two or more Contracting Parties to the Helsinki Convention – all Baltic Sea countries and the EU – participate in a joint action responding to spillages of oil and other harmful substances such as chemicals.
Held every year since 1989, the BALEX DELTA exercises are conducted under the framework of the Helsinki Convention that calls for its signatories – all Baltic Sea nations – to have the necessary operational capacity and skills to respond to any maritime incident at sea and affecting the shore.
The BALEX DELTA 2018 edition was held off the coast of Karlskrona, Sweden in August 2018. It simulated a cargo ship carrying chemical containers running aground in harsh weather, with chemicals and oil leaking into the sea and reaching the shore.
The final evolution report was written by the Swedish Defence Research agency (FOI). It was published ahead of the final conference on lessons learnt of the exercise that was held in Helsinki earlier in April.
BALEX DELTA 2018 was supported by funds from the European Union through its DG Echo programme.
The next BALEX DELTA edition will be hosted by Denmark in 2019, under the lead of the Defence Command of Denmark. It will also mark the 30-year anniversary of the exercises.