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(Photo: US Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Grant DeVuyst, via Wikimedia Commons)
The expedition cruise industry and search and rescue responders will carry out a live exercise involving a passenger ship in Arctic waters

AECO represents cruise industry in new Arctic SAR network

The cruise industry, authorities and researchers will join forces to enhance Arctic search and rescue through the new ARCSAR network. Having secured €3.5m in EU funding, the ARCSAR project will run for five years and include a live exercise involving a cruise ship.

The Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators is one of 21 international partners that will work across sectors 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. 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.

'In a time of increased activity in the Arctic, the ARCSAR project is an important and timely initiative,' said Frigg Jørgensen, executive director of AECO. '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.'

According to Jørgensen, passenger ships are 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,' she noted. '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.'

Swedish cruise operator and AECO member PolarQuest is also part of the ARCSAR network and most likely will supply the ship to be used during the live exercise. The time and location of the exercise are to be determined.

ARCSAR will involve partners from Finland, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Faroe Islands, the US, Canada, Russia, Italy, Germany, UK, Ireland and New Zealand.

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