On 1-3 December 2015 60 delegates from some 15 countries gathered at Shanghai Maritime University for a mass rescue operations (MRO) training course and ‘tabletop’ discussion exercise organised by IMRF’s Asia-Pacific Regional Centre (APRC) and kindly hosted and sponsored by the University and IMRF members China Rescue and Salvage. The IMRF also gratefully acknowledges the support of McMurdo and Trinity House for our ongoing MRO project.
Attendees from the China Mainland included delegates of China Rescue and Salvage, Maritime SAR Centres, Rescue Bureaux, Salvage Bureaux, the Rescue Flying Service, the Maritime Safety Administration, Dalian and Shanghai Maritime Universities, the China Waterborne Research Institute, Quest Marine Consultant Co, and Shanghai Sun Glory Marine Co. The Hong Kong Fire Services and Marine Departments were also represented.
International representatives came from Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar, the Philippines, Mongolia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Kenya and New Zealand.
The aims of the event were to enhance MRO awareness, analyse the difficulties, consider the coordination and response issues, review relevant IMO and IMRF guidance, and assist with MRO project research.
The course was opened by IMRF Trustee Zhang Rongjun, Deputy Director-General of Donghai Rescue Bureau and Acting APRC General Manager, and welcome addresses were delivered by Jin Yongxing, Chairman of Shanghai Maritime University Council; Zhang Jianxin, Deputy Director-General of China Rescue and Salvage; and David Jardine-Smith, the IMRF’s MRO Project Leader.
Zhang Rongjun gave the first presentation, on mass rescue operations in the Asia-Pacific region. David Jardine-Smith then gave overviews of the relevant international agreements and guidance, and of the IMRF’s MRO project. Zheng Huaiyu, Deputy Chief of the Duty Office, China MRCC, spoke about China’s maritime SAR development and international cooperation; and Zhao Xingfu, Deputy Chief of China Rescue and Salvage’s Rescue Operations Division, closed the first day with an account of CRS’s experience in mass rescue operations.
The second morning included presentations on the United States Coast Guard’s passenger vessel safety program and the Coast Guard’s MRO preparations; and on the United Kingdom’s arrangements for firefighting at sea. Gao Longhao of the Taiwan Chinese SAR Association spoke about a mass rescue incident resulting from the loss of a research vessel. Meaghan Gies, Royal Caribbean Cruises’ Lead for Situation Management and Planning, gave a presentation on the cruise industry’s response to maritime incidents in general and Royal Caribbean’s sophisticated response to major incidents in particular. David Jardine-Smith explained the guidance available in the IMRF’s online MRO reference library.
In the afternoon Professor Zhu Yuzhu of Dalian Maritime University spoke about the mass rescue guidelines developed for China Rescue and Salvage, on SAR diving, firefighting and emergency towing operations. Professor Weng Jinxian of Shanghai Maritime University closed the second day’s programme with a presentation on the investigation of shipping accident injury severity and mortality.
The morning of the third and final day was given over to a ‘tabletop’ discussion exercise led by the IMRF’s David Jardine-Smith. Course attendees were asked to consider a developing scenario involving an engine room fire on a cruise ship. The exercise advanced in stages, with group discussions at each stage, as attendees considered the appropriate responses to a worsening situation which led in the end to a mass rescue operation at sea and the delivery of large numbers of people to places of safety ashore.
The exercise concluded, attendees were given a guided tour of engine room and bridge simulator facilities at the University, and of the China Maritime Museum, before taking an evening cruise on the Yangtze aboard a fine Maritime Safety Administration vessel, to view the lights of downtown Shanghai.
It was generally agreed that the course was a considerable success, and delegates returned home with a good deal to think further about. Discussing with partners the issues that arise in mass rescue operations, and potential solutions to them, is an important part of preparing for such rare, but very difficult, events.
Our APRC colleagues intend to build on this success, with further MRO training events being planned for the future. Keep an eye on APRC Website.
For papers and presentations, please go to the MRO Training Course - Shanghai 2015 page.