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In early December 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 overall.

shanghaitalkThe 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. As well as attendees from the China Mainland and Hong Kong, international representatives came from Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar, the Philippines, Mongolia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Kenya and New Zealand.

The course included presentations on

mass rescue operations in the Asia-Pacific region
an overview of the relevant international agreements and guidance, and of the IMRF’s MRO project and the guidance available in our online MRO reference library
China’s maritime SAR development and international cooperation
China Rescue and Salvage’s MRO experience, and the mass rescue guidelines developed for CRS on SAR diving, firefighting and emergency towing operations
the United States Coast Guard’s passenger vessel safety program and the Coast Guard’s MRO preparations
the United Kingdom’s arrangements for firefighting at sea
a mass rescue incident in Taiwan resulting from the loss of a research vessel
the cruise industry’s response to maritime incidents in general and Royal Caribbean Cruises’ sophisticated response to major incidents in particular, and
the investigation of shipping accident injury severity and mortality.

All of these presentations are available for free download from Mass Rescue Operation Training Course - Shanghai 2015

On the third and final day the IMRF’s David Jardine-Smith led a ‘tabletop’ discussion exercise. 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.

shanghaitalk2The 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 the APRC Website

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