The Victorian Department of Transport and the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) will put their emergency response capabilities to the test in a large-scale exercise along the Bellarine Peninsula next week.
From October 4-6, local residents and visitors to the area will see an increase in on-water, shorefront and aerial activity as part of the maritime emergency simulation, codenamed Exercise Kunawarra.
Exercise Kunawarra is a full-field exercise which will involve vessels, aircraft and first responders from a range of local, State and Federal agencies.
Department of Transport Head of Network Operations Brett Langley said the exercise will help to ensure that DoT and its emergency response partners have the correct emergency response processes and capabilities in place.
“Working alongside AMSA, we’re making sure that our people and processes are equipped to respond to a large-scale maritime emergency,” Mr Langley said.
“This ensures that in the unlikely event of an emergency of this kind, Victorians can be assured that we’re able to deliver a quick and capable response.”
AMSA Executive Director Response Mark Morrow said it was vital for federal and state authorities to work closely together to practice and test arrangements to ensure an efficient and effective response.
“Because these types of major incidents are uncommon in Australia, joint operations like Exercise Kunawarra provide an important opportunity to practice the response needed and to work collaboratively with all relevant agencies,” Mr Morrow said.
“Overall, there will be about 190 personnel involved in the three-day exercise from government and volunteer organisations Australia-wide, including about 12 people from AMSA.”
The exercise will occur between 8am to 5pm (AEST) and will have minimal impact on the local community.
Details of the scenario will remain confidential until the start of the exercise to ensure the simulation plays out like a genuine emergency.
As this is a controlled exercise, it poses no risk to the community, responders, wildlife or the environment.
An on-water exclusion zone will be in place approximately 1.5 km offshore from St Leonards between 9am and 5pm on Wednesday 5 October and for the safety of the community and exercise participants, we ask that members of the public remain outside this zone at all times.
Boaters will be advised by notice to mariners and safety vessels will be stationed around the zone.
The exercise will be scaled down if there is extreme weather.
Exercises of this nature are conducted regularly around the country to ensure the combined approach by Commonwealth and Victorian authorities is appropriate.