10 January 2015
All Hands On Deck – a clear vision and strategic focus
The Swedish Coast Guard (SCG) and Lamor have long-term relations and the good cooperation has resulted in the joint development of several oil spill response products. SCG had a clear vision and focus about how to ramp up their operational needs and made the strategic decision to invest in large, high-capacity multipurpose oil spill response vessels. A public tender went out with a detailed and highly technical specifications request.
”We were very impressed with Lamor’s response to this tender and our relationship has developed over the years,” says Jan Fälteke, Coordinator Response from SCG’s headquarters Response and Law Enforcement Department, and continues factually: “Lamor stated that they have the solution to our requirements, but that the product was not available yet. For example we then developed the in-built oil recovery system for one of our more recent new-build vessels, which turned out to be the perfect solution. Only a few minor adjustments have been made to the final product. The 90m long umbilical hose is also a result of our good cooperation that completely fulfilled our strict technical requirements.”
“I am very pleased with Lamor’s flexibility and customer service. Moreover, I or any of my colleagues can call or visit Porvoo since the Lamor team is always ready and available, even in challenging scenarios such as requests for adjustments and continuous testing to resolve any technical issues,” says Fälteke.
Fälteke and his colleague Bruno Axelsson (SCG Chief Engineer, Response Department) visited Lamor in February to inspect the testing of Lamor’s side cassettes in heavy viscous oil. “We tested the side cassettes in the early 1990s in Horten, Norway and hence an upgraded version of the side cassettes with more efficient capacities and capabilities that meet todays’ demands,” stated Fälteke.
In-built oil recovery system
Axelsson explains that all equipment is thoroughly tested and commissioned prior to procurement and acceptance. “Usually we test the brush cassettes and pumps separately, but this test at Lamor was one of the largest, most extensive so far. We shipped the entire piping system to Lamor, and tested all equipment involved from recovery through the piping system to finally the storage tanks onboard the vessel.”
SCG wants to improve its vessels with the latest state-of-the art oil spill response equipment. “The risk of an oil spill occurring in the Baltic Sea is increasing, due to the growing traffic, especially the tankers in the Gulf of Finland. A collision or grounding involving one of the large oil tankers would be disastrous in our waters. Our recovery capacity has since last year doubled from 5000 to 10000 tons to meet the threat of the worst case scenario involving a tanker of the magnitude of 200,000 tons, of which we foresee that only one tank is damaged or demolished.”
Lamor’s Rune Högström, COO has worked closely with SCG over the years. “We have cooperated for many years on various projects. That said, I do want to highlight that there is a certain thrill since the demands or requests are always a challenge. Members from SCG work professionally and collegially and are always willing to listen and then experiment with alternative configuration solutions. We share a common goal in having the best available and technologically most advanced OSR equipment.”
“The most recent simulated tests in February in Porvoo were the collection of oil from the water surface pumped into an onboard cargo storage hold, basically a complete onboard system. We used light oil and a bitumen product of up to 1 million cP viscosity,” Högström explains.
SCG – ready and prepared
In addition to oil spill response, SCG also carries out traffic monitoring, 24/7 air surveillance, emergency towing, search, rescue and fire-fighting operations and emergency lightering, e.g. emptying tanks of grounded vessels etc. SCG has 26 coast guard stations, including one flight division. The stations come under the supervision of two regional command centers situated in Stockholm and Gothenburg whilst SCG headquarters are in Karlskrona.
“Being ready and prepared is essential for us at SCG. Currently two new multipurpose vessels are being built to complete the investment in all together four new-builds of which two have been delivered, KBV 031 and KBV032 while KBV 033 and 034 are still under construction. That said one recent newbuild from 2009, specifically KBV 003 has chemical spill capabilities, moreover, all of the vessels have Lamor oil spill recovery LORS systems onboard,” Axelsson explains.
“We aim to increase our capacities in oil recovery operations at night,” Axelsson continues. “Another important area that we are focusing on is improving the response methods and capabilities of oil spill response operations near-shore and inshore. In line with this, we want to simplify the systems used to make them more user-friendly for example through automation in which one person can operate the entire near-shore equipment solo whilst other responders can focus on other issues during an incident,” notes Axelsson.
SCG’s sustainable maritime environment
One of SCG’s primary duties is to work towards achieving a sustainable maritime environment. “We do this on several different levels. First and foremost, we work preventively on reducing oil spill and hazardous substances at sea. But if an accident were to happen, it is our job to ensure that the damage is minimized to safeguard the environment,” says Fälteke.
Traffic across the Baltic Sea has increased along with the volumes of oil being transported. This puts high demands on levels of preparedness for environmental protection. SCG therefore work in partnerships with other countries to develop the ability to handle large volumes of oil spill, tow distressed ships and fight on-board fires. We also work against the spread of contaminated materials, toxic chemicals and radioactive substances, and carry out rescue and response efforts.
“Our aircraft conduct continuous monitoring and are among the world’s most sophisticated surveillance aircraft, and with the help of satellite images we can detect oil spill at an early stage and the oil can be absorbed before it reaches land. With specific operational forecasting software, we can predict when and where a spill will reach the shore and thereby deploy the resources where they are needed,” he says.
Through continuous surveillance using vessels and aircraft SCG works preventively to tackle environmental crimes at sea. We ensure that legislation prohibiting water pollution and dumping is complied with, and we monitor the bird protection areas and seal sanctuaries that are established in Sweden.
Cooperation across borders
Working towards ensuring cleaner and safer seas is an immense task that requires collaboration between multiple players. The sea is a prime concern for everyone, and SCG works very closely with other authorities, organizations and countries.
“We work closely with the Police, Customs and the Swedish Transport Agency. Internationally we work with other countries and international organizations for the development of border protection, crime combating and environmental protection. Extensive work on the marine environment is performed in cooperation with the Baltic countries in the Helsinki Commission, with the North Sea countries in the Bonn Agreement and with the Nordic countries in the Copenhagen Agreement,” Fälteke highlights. “To promote operational cooperation beyond the EU’s external boarders we participate regularly in international border control operations within Frontex,” he says.
Fälteke continues: “Some other international programs SCG is committed to is the Baltic Sea Region Border Control Cooperation (BSRBCC) which is a partnership between the countries of the Baltic Sea, Norway and Iceland, which aims to simplify procedures for cooperation in border control between the countries. The North Atlantic Coast Guard Forum (NACGF) is a partnership between 18 coast guard organizations from countries around the North Atlantic and Baltic Sea which is working to create effective cross-border cooperation in areas such as drug trafficking, illegal migration, environmental protection, fisheries monitoring, maritime safety and search and rescue.
The vessels and their equipment are important tools for SCG. “Our vessels and boats are being continuously developed with modern technology to ensure the best possible operational capacity for maritime surveillance and environmental protection at sea. We therefore need partners like Lamor to work closely with us,” concludes Axelsson.