Arctic cruise traffic, enhanced safety, value of industry guidelines, search- and rescue, cooperation and dialogue – all of this was issues discussed when AECO (the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators) met with the new head of Arctic Command, Major General Kim Jesper Jørgensen, in Copenhagen last week
Arctic Command & AECO
As a part of Denmark’s armed forces Arctic Command’s primary task is to monitor the waters surrounding Greenland and the Faroe Islands. This includes inspection responsibilities in regard to cruise vessels that are subject to reporting requirements when sailing in these waters.
AECO represents the majority of the expedition cruise operators in the Arctic, including Greenland, and the association has developed a number of guidelines and enforced other measures that aims at ensuring environmentally-friendly, safe and considerate Arctic operations.
Safety at sea on the agenda
As Search and Rescue (SAR) and safety at sea has become an ever more integrated part of the public debate regarding the Arctic, the issue regarding safety in connection with Arctic cruise tourism has also become more important. This is some of the background for Arctic Command’s Search and Rescue Exercises (the so called Sarex’s)) – another one takes place in the Nuuk fjord again this year. Simultaneously AECO and the cruise industry have taken a number of initiatives to increase safety in regard to cruise operations in the Arctic.
AECO’s safety measures
At the meeting hosted by AECO the association’s executive director, Frigg Jørgensen, informed about the industry measures that had been taken to increase safety at sea. These includes satellite based vessel tracking, through which AECO’s member vessels can track other vessels position, direction and speed, the recent Joint Arctic SAR TTX in Reykjavik and AECO’s other important tools such as AECO’s cruise database, which gives users thorough knowledge about cruise vessels technical specifications and an overview of their sailing plans and activities.
Sharing of depth soundings and other future cooperation
AECO and the Arctic Command will look into if crowd sourced depth soundings can be shared between AECO operators and Arctic Command vessels when sailing in Arctic waters. Such information is often an important supplement when navigating in areas with limited official charts. As the meeting was concluded it was agreed to follow up in regard to a number of areas. Arctic Command will among other things be given access to AECO’s vessel-tracking system, cruise-database information and receive other cruise relevant information, while Arctic Command will keep the dialogue with AECO in regard to all cruise related topics.
Both Arctic Command’s Major General Kim Jesper Jørgensen and AECO’s executive director, Frigg Jørgensen, concluded that it was a good meeting, and that they look forward to the continued contact and cooperation in the time to come.
Photo from the left: AECO’s executive director, Frigg Jørgensen, Arctic Commands Major General Kim Jesper Jørgensen and AECO’s Danish Office Manager Ilja Leo Lang