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OR&R Participates in AFRICOM-Sponsored Response Workshop in Mauritius

SEPT. 12, 2022 — OR&R’s Emergency Response Division participated in an event sponsored by U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM)—Disaster Response for Oil Spill and Mass Rescue Exchange—held in Port Louis, Mauritius on Aug. 22-26.

A person presenting to a room of people.
OR&R scientific support coordinator for the Pacific Islands, Ruth Yender, presenting on NOAA’s roles during U.S. oil spill responses. Image credit: USCG Atlantic Strike Team/Francis Sciano.

The joint exchange, intended to improve marine event response preparedness, was motivated in part by the grounding of the bulk carrier M/V Wakashio on coral reef off the coast of Pointe d’Esny, Mauritius in July of 2020. The Wakashio grounding occurred near the Blue Bay Marine Park reserve and other protected marine areas. Oil released by the grounded vessel contaminated mangroves, coral reefs, and other sensitive coastal habitats. ERD provided scientific support to Mauritius remotely during that response. 

Topics discussed during the exchange event included the use of the Incident Command System during responses, response considerations in sensitive tropical environments, and international requests for assistance. In addition to ERD’s scientific support coordinator for the Pacific Islands, Ruth Yender, and AFRICOM personnel, the U.S. team of participants included members of the U.S. Coast Guard Atlantic Strike Team.

Government of Mauritius participants included representatives of the Mauritius National Coast Guard; Ports Authority; Port Police; Ministry of Environment, Solid Waste Management and Climate Change; National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Centre; Meteorological Service; Department for Continental Shelf, Maritime Zones Administration, and Exploration; Tourism Authority; Shipping Division; Special Mobile Force; Fire and Rescue Service; Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade; and the Prime Minister’s Office.

While the OR&R SSC was participating in the response workshop, OR&R SSC Supervisor Doug Helton attended a related web seminar for Media Trust (a media association in Mauritius) on marine conservation and restoration in remembrance to the M/V Wakashio's oil spill two years ago, including the topic of Low Sulfur Fuel Oil (LSFO). LSFO is a new class of marine fuel oils, and the Wakashio incident represented the first major LSFO spill into the ocean. The article, "A Revolution in Marine Fuels: Five Behaviour Characteristics of LSFO Responders Need to Know," reviewed what is known about LSFOs within the oil spill response industry, and what responders need to be aware of when potentially dealing with future LSFO incidents.

A group photo.








Class participants on the first day of the exchange event, including U.S. Embassy Charge d’Affaires, Mr. Satrajit Sardar, and the Honorable Vice Prime Minister of Mauritius, Mohammad Anwar Husnoo, who provided opening remarks. Image credit: U.S. Embassy in Mauritius.

Last updated Tuesday, November 8, 2022 1:40pm PST