Photo: Forsvarets mediesenter/KV Barentshav.Photo: Forsvarets mediesenter/KV Barentshav

Enhanced Security, Safety and Preparedness

Norway has jurisdiction over large sea areas, and more than 80 % of shipping in the Arctic passes through Norwegian waters. We therefore have a major responsibility for maintaining a presence in our sea areas and for developing monitoring and emergency response systems.

The Norwegian Armed Forces’ growing presence and higher level of activity in the region are key elements of the Norway’s Arctic strategy. The Norwegian Joint Headquarters has been moved north to Bodø. A new Coast Guard headquarters has been established in Sortland, and its vessels have been upgraded. The Armed Forces’ aircraft have the capacity to detect oil spills, and a number of Coast Guard vessels are equipped with oil booms.
Safe shipping in cold waters
In 2012, the first phase of BarentsWatch was launched. This is an integrated civilian monitoring and information system for Norwegian sea and coastal areas. The next phase will be to ensure that authorities with responsibility for monitoring activities at sea and maritime safety have effective access to each other’s systems. BarentsWatch makes it easier to identify dangerous situations in time, and will make it possible to save more lives

Other measures that have enhanced maritime safety are the new vessel traffic service centre in Vardø, a new meteorological radar at Gednje on the Varanger peninsula, and routeing measures to divert high-risk traffic further away from the coast. Year-round tugboat preparedness has been established in North Norway. This is important for preventing shipping accidents and oil spills. A prohibition on the use of heavy bunker oil by ships has also been introduced in the protected areas around Svalbard. Furthermore, vessels sailing around Svalbard are now required to employ a pilot, and search and rescue capacity in Svalbard will be strengthened with the addition of two new rescue helicopters and a new vessel for the Governor, which will be in place in 2014.
Seeking to establish binding rules
Enhanced preparedness and maritime safety is a key element of international cooperation in the north. On the initiative of Norway and Russia, a mandatory vessel reporting system for the Barents region has been established under the International Maritime Organization (IMO). Norway is also strongly engaged in the IMO’s work on developing a mandatory international code of safety for ships operating in polar waters (the Polar Code).

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