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Focus area 3.4: Delivering an effective marine pollution response capability

See performance measure Performance measure 3.4.1 and Performance measure 3.4.2

AMSA has continued to maintain an effective pollution response capability for the 2019–20 financial year. This was achieved through:

  • during the COVID-19 pandemic, establishing the Cooperative Working Agreement and Disease Management Plan with all jurisdictions and industry to ensure response capability was maintained
  • establishing regular capability meetings with State partner agencies and industry
  • regular correspondence with key contractors
  • maintaining major marine pollution equipment stockpiles in nine locations across Australia ready for national use.

AMSA continues to develop and refine its marine incident response capability. Key activities that occurred in the past twelve months include:

  • the Air Attack Supervisor role, a critical function in dispersant spraying operations previously conducted by State fire agencies, was assumed by AMSA as part of our Fixed Wing Aerial Dispersant Capability
  • replacement of outdated equipment
  • procurement of new equipment to fill capability gaps.

Case study: Fastwave Voyager buoys

Fastwave Voyager buoy The photo shows an image of the Fastwave Voyager buoy. The buoys can be dropped from an aircraft to obtain real-time information on water movement and temperature. This information can be used by responders to calculate survival times.
Planning an on water search and rescue requires an understanding of the water’s movement. AMSA uses self-locating datum marker buoys dropped from aircraft to obtain real-time information on water movement, as well as water temperature, which can be critical for determining likely survival times. Buoys are most commonly dispatched from AMSA’s Challenger jets and must withstand the rigours of being launched from an aircraft at 180 knots and the subsequent impact with the water, then transmit data through satellite links to the AMSA Response Centre in Canberra.

Following an open tender process, AMSA was pleased to add an Australian manufacturer to a panel to provide buoys for our SAR use. Fastwave Communications Pty Ltd, based in Perth, produces a range of technology for the maritime sector. Fastwave’s Voyager buoys are a robust design and were put through a series of trials in early 2020 to ensure they met AMSA’s requirements. The introduction into service of any new type of equipment in aviation can be a difficult process. In this case, being able to conduct trials in Perth with all of the interested parties on site and participating made the process smoother than usual.

AMSA now has units in service at all Challenger jet bases and has deployed them successfully on live incidents.