Day 1: a full-scale response
On Day 1 of the drill, response crews from Marine vessels Ain Dar 3 and Ain Dar 8 loaded up oil-containment booms at West Pier, and helicopters from the Aviation Department buzzed toward the simulated oil-spill site with pollution duty engineers assessing the situation.
The first briefing came at 9 a.m. to the assembled support team at the Emergency Command Center (ECC), the nerve center of the oil spill drill. For the purposes of the exercise, the drill was designed as a worst-case scenario: the release of 250 barrels of oil.
Throughout the first day, real efforts were made to combat the simulated threat. One layer of protection booms and skimmers was deployed in the spilled area to simulate the collection and capture of oil. Skimmers were deployed inside the boom to gather the oil, while smaller Marine boats (Mirsal-3, Nyasheen, Khutut Anabeeb, and Mirsal-2) assisted with booming operations.
Marine duty pollution engineers conducted surveillance overflights every two hours after the initial sighting, and shoreline surveillance was provided by representatives of the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) every two hours.
The key to success in this drill was notification and communication among the various departments, the ability to deploy people and equipment, and the know-how on where and when to deploy these resources. Regular briefings from the Marine Department’s regional oil spill response coordinator and from section chiefs for planning, operations, and logistics alerted participants to new emerging challenges that ranged from technical difficulties to drastic changes in weather.