London, Monday, 17th March 2014. A mass rescue simulation – the first of its kind – featuring a major collision between passenger carrying ships, will be a highlight of the third International Mass Rescue Conference organized by the International Maritime Rescue Federation (IMRF).
Hosted by the Swedish Sea Rescue Society (SSRS), the conference, part of the Gothenburg series, will be held in the Swedish city from 1st to the 3rd June 2014 and will focus on developing and sharing practical solutions to the problems identified during the simulation exercise and from the previous two conferences.
The simulation will allow about 60 delegates to watch events unfold from six bridges and a 'green room' and will include the use of helicopters and life rafts as well as a rescue ship deploying a crane to lift life rafts out of the water.
"This exercise will take around two and a half hours," says IMRF Chief Executive, Bruce Reid, "We expect to stimulate fresh thoughts and some interesting discussions about how mass rescue exercises can be conducted.
"It is hoped that, apart from our usual attendees such as rescue co-ordinators, administrators, coastguards, rescue aircraft and boat crews, we will also be able to attract cruise industry safety managers, ferry operators, ship owners and others from the commercial sector who might be key players in a major incident of this kind."
The event will look at integrating the preparation and planning efforts of all stakeholders, as well as enhancing incident co-ordination and establishing supportive response systems.
There will be presentations and discussions around case studies from real mass rescue events and exercises. Speakers will include Paul Culver, director of the US Coast Guard's Black Swan Mass Rescue exercise held in April last year – perhaps the largest and most complex exercise of its kind in maritime history.
Delegates will hear too from a senior Italian Coast Guard officer about the difficulties and successes of the mass rescue operation following the Costa Concordia disaster in January 2012.
Also present will be James Instance from the UK Coastguard's Falmouth coordination centre , who will discuss the rescue of nearly 100 people from the Athena, a fish factory ship that caught fire 230 miles south west of the Isles of Scilly in 2010.
Another view on mass rescue will be given by Kwok Wai Chan of the Hong Kong Marine Department, who will speak about the loss of the launch Lamma IV in October 2012 and a cruise ship rescue exercise in Hong Kong in October 2013 and Steve Scully, Senior Emergency Planning Officer at Kent County Council in the UK, who has done extensive work on the shore side responses to a major accident at sea will also contribute.
And, delivering a first-hand account of how he survived the abandonment of the Bangladeshi ship, the MV Hope, that flipped sideways in the Andaman Sea in July last year, will be Second Officer Mohammad Mobarak Hossain.
Delegates will have an opportunity to raise issues and put forward ideas in a series of 'open space' discussions and ultimately present back to the rest of the conference, a key part of the initiative to share best practice.
The conference will be opened by Rolf Westerström, Chief Executive of the SSRS, and will be chaired by Michael Vlasto, Chairman of the IMRF.