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ISSN 2083-6473
ISSN 2083-6481 (electronic version)




Associate Editor
Prof. Tomasz Neumann

Published by
TransNav, Faculty of Navigation
Gdynia Maritime University
3, John Paul II Avenue
81-345 Gdynia, POLAND
Improving Preparedness for Shipborne Oil Pollution – Highlights of Tabletop Exercises at Saimaa Inland Waters
1 South‐Eastern Finland University of Applied Sciences, Kotka, Finland
ABSTRACT: Lake Saimaa is the largest lake in Finland and the Saimaa inland waterway network is one of the main transport corridors for merchant shipping. The Saimaa inland watercourse is a challenging operating environment due to shallow waters, narrowness of the fairways, fast currents as well as the sensitiveness of the environment. It is recognised that the heavy vessel traffic poses a risk of oil pollution. An oil spill incident in inland waters has a high potential for contaminating shorelines and affecting populated areas. Responding to such an incident involves several governmental and regional authorities, agencies and voluntary organisations. Inter-agency coordination is considered a key element in incident management. Several exercise types can be used to train multi-agency collaboration in joint response operations. This paper analyses the benefits of tabletop exercises in the strengthening of joint preparedness and contingency planning. Paper compares the outcomes of discussion-based exercises with operations-based drills and full-scale exercises. The analysis is based on four oil spill response tabletop exercises and five oil response drills conducted in Saimaa region in 2017–2018. Different types of exercises make it possible to focus on different aspects of the response operation. Operations-based exercises are useful in improving technical skills and testing procedures and the functioning of the equipment. Due to time restrictions, the equipment deployment drills usually focus on a specific function or a single task. Tabletop exercises can be used to assess contingency plans on a strategic level. Tabletop exercises offer an opportunity to clarify roles and responsibilities, discuss priorities and establish inter-agency agreements. The advantages of tabletop exercises include their flexibility in scenario-building, low-cost implementation and the possibility to study a longer time span in order to gain a more holistic view of the response operation.
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Citation note:
Halonen J., Altarriba E.: Improving Preparedness for Shipborne Oil Pollution – Highlights of Tabletop Exercises at Saimaa Inland Waters. TransNav, the International Journal on Marine Navigation and Safety of Sea Transportation, Vol. 13, No. 1, doi:10.12716/1001.13.01.23, pp. 221-228, 2019
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