For Norwegian participants the surprise was part of the forces of the Northern fleet, who took a leading role in the exercise “Barents”, dedicated to search and rescue, and also prevention and liquidation of oil spills in the Barents sea.
In previous years the main partners in the exercise from the Russian side were the coast guard of the FSB Border service and the Marine rescue service. This last year has not even been presented.
The Russian Navy is closer to Norway
“We have to be ready to help each other in emergency situations”, — said the head of search and rescue operations of the Northern fleet Vladimir Gorban. Management staff participated in the current joint Russian-Norwegian exercises.
“These exercises are a good opportunity to strengthen cooperation between our two countries in the field of search and rescue”, — he has underlined in conversation with the Barents Observer.
This week Vladimir Gorban arrived in Kirkenes at the Russian delegation of 20 people to participate in the planning meeting exercises. Wednesday involved units put forward in the exercise area in the Barents sea, their vessels and crews. Exercise involved a total of eight ships, patrol aircraft and a helicopter.
“Before, our part in drills on oil spill response involved only the civil service — Rosmorporta, for example — while the military units in such events was not involved. Now, in our country began to make greater efforts to environmental protection, he explains. — We get new equipment for work in the Arctic, there are new vessels, built according to the standards of ice-class, and it gives us the opportunity to guarantee support and assistance in the Arctic zone”.
This year the doctrines “Barents” was directed by the Russian side. The legend of the exercises is a fire on Board the tanker, the crew members overboard. The exercises are divided into two stages — the rescue of the crew and liquidation of oil spill.
A positive attitude to participation of the Northern fleet
As noted on the Norwegian side, the exercises went smoothly.
“This year’s exercises were successful, we did what was, in strictly accordance with the plan,” — said the Barents Observer Alf Christiansen, senior Advisor coastal Affairs of Norway. In the Norwegian-Russian cooperation on preparedness for oil spill it since the establishment of contacts in 1991.
The involvement of the Russian fleet should not prevent a long-standing cooperation, he said: “We see positive point is that the exercise took part the Northern fleet and that the system is flexible. Their participation will be a good contribution to our cooperation in the field of search and rescue. They completely handled the responsibilities for conducting the exercises — both in terms of search and rescue operations, and in terms of addressing the oil spill.”
Christiansen admits, however, that “a little strange” that Marsaskala not participated in the exercises this year. The organization of the Ministry of transport of the Russian Federation has remained a major participant from the Russian side from the very first Norwegian-Russian exercises dealing with the oil spill, held in 1995.
He expressed the hope that 2018 in the exercises will be attended by Marsaskala, and Navy. Next year the exercises will be held under the leadership of Norway.
From the Norwegian side, the main partners in the exercise “Barents” are the coast guard and the coastal administration. In addition, air support usually provide the Norwegian air force and Norwegian Society for rescue at sea, providing the ship. Interaction is provided by the joint rescue coordination centre.
This year, for the exercises were provided by the court of a coast guard of Norway “Harstad” and “farm” and the tug ashore “Sterberg”. On the Russian side, the main role belonged to the Northern fleet tug “Nikolay Chiker”; was also involved coast guard ships “polar” and “Murmanryba”.
Usually, the tasks involved planes and helicopters. This year, in spite of the plan, there was a Norwegian patrol aircraft “Orion” and the helicopter “Sea King” are unable to draw up the documents for crossing the border between the two countries. From the Russian side were involved in the Il-38 and Ka-27.
The Barents diplomacy
To exercise both sides have committed significant resources, but the court remained on its side of the Maritime boundary. Russian courts had permission to cross, but they abstained.
One of the participants admitted that the exercise “Barents” is more of a diplomacy and establishing cross-border contacts than practical training. During the exercise Norwegian and Russian vessels, four on each side, to perform tasks in parallel, with a rather limited scale joint action. None of the courts has not crossed the border line, the Russian courts had not Norwegian observers, Norwegian was one of the Russian.