21 international partners will join forces to enhance Arctic search and rescue through the new ARCSAR network. Having secured €3.5 million in EU funding, the project will run for five years and include a live exercise on a cruise vessel, in a bid to strengthen cooperation and innovation in security and emergency response in the Arctic and the North Atlantic.
The ARCSAR network is led by the Joint Rescue Coordination Center North-Norway, and search and rescue will be an important focus area for the project. ARCSAR will involve partners from Finland, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Faroe Islands, the US, Canada, Russia, Italy, Germany, UK, Ireland and New Zealand.
The Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO), which represents the majority of expedition cruise operators that sail in Arctic waters, will work closely with authorities, SAR responders and researchers to determine how SAR preparedness and response can be strengthened and developed. Frigg Jørgensen, Executive director of AECO, stated:
In a time of increased activity in the Arctic, the ARCSAR project is an important and timely initiative. The expedition cruise industry is already working closely with Arctic SAR entities, and this network will make it possible to take full advantage of the knowledge, experience and best practices we are identifying.
Mr. Jørgensen further underlined that passenger vessels represent an important asset in Arctic marine preparedness.
During search and rescue operations in remote parts of the Arctic, expedition cruise ships can be the first to arrive on site. Cruise ships carry food, water, medical supplies, doctors, numerous high speed small vessels and other resources that are useful in SAR operations. Previous tabletop exercises organized by AECO and SAR entities have shown that there is a potential for making better use of these resources. ARCSAR’s planned live exercise will be a valuable opportunity to continue to learn and improve cooperation.
The time and location of the exercise is yet to be determined.