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Groups test rescue, cleanup responses during major marine exercise in B.C.


September 26, 2019
By The Canadian Press

PORT HARDY, B.C. — Nearly two dozen agencies are responding to an environmental emergency off Vancouver Island, but fortunately it’s only a drill.

Vessels and members from the Canadian and United States coast guards, military search-and-rescue teams and the RCMP are among the 20 agencies taking part in training exercises that began this week in waters near Port Hardy, B.C.

The focus today is on a simulated environmental cleanup, while Wednesday’s scenario involved a hypothetical cruise ship that had run aground with 2,700 passengers aboard.

The BC Ferries vessel Northern Adventure stood in for the supposedly stricken vessel, but U.S. Coast Guard Capt. John Hollingsworth from Alaska says the drill was far from implausible.

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He says as many as 35 cruise ships are sailing along the Alaska coast at any given time during the summer and a significant event is “a real possibility.”

Hollingsworth says Canadian Coast Guard crews are more advanced than their U.S. counterparts in handling marine emergencies and his team will learn from the cruise ship exercise.

Duncan Ferner, manager for search and rescue in New Zealand, is also observing the multi-day exercises.

He says participants have willingly shared documentation about the drills.

“I’ve got a notebook full of good ideas,” he says.

The exercise began Sunday and concludes tonight with a closing ceremony in Port Hardy. (CTV)

News from © Canadian Press Enterprises Inc., 2019