The Pakistan Maritime Security Agency (PMSA) organized International Exercise BARRACUDA-XII from January 2-4, 2024, comprising both Harbor and Sea phases. The opening brief for the exercise was held in Karachi. The Federal Minister for Climate Change, Ahmed Irfan Aslam, graced the occasion as the Chief Guest. During his address, the Chief Guest thanked all foreign delegates for their participation in the event. He further added that the exercise will continue to enhance our preparedness for maritime disaster management. "Exercise BARRACUDA-XII will provide an opportunity to review and align our response procedures to attain the shared objective of a pristine marine environment and the safety of life at sea. The exercise will also serve as a forum, in the shape of a maritime seminar, to deliberate on contemporary technological advancements and global best practices in the field of marine pollution control. The exercise is set to reaffirm our national resolve and acknowledge the importance of oceans in our collective well-being, emphasizing the need to protect and preserve them for our future generations," Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS) Admiral Naveed Ashraf highlighted the significance of the exercise in his message.
The ceremony was attended by observers from 13 friendly countries and officers of the Pakistan Navy (PN) and PMSA. Foreign observers and delegations from relevant stakeholders also attended the brief, during which the aims and objectives of Exercise BARRACUDA-XII were highlighted. Moreover, scholarly papers on the response to oil spills and search and rescue at sea were presented by both national and international speakers. Pakistan has always been, and will continue to be, an ardent advocate of safe and secure seas for the well-being of the region and the world. Earlier, during his welcome address, Director General (DG) PMSA Rear Admiral Imtiaz Ali apprised the audience about the Government of Pakistan’s endeavor to curb pollution at sea and reiterated the resolve of PMSA to fight marine pollution. He also called on the foreign observers and discussed matters of mutual interest.
The sea phase of the exercise was held in the North Arabian Sea. Chief Minister Sindh, Maqbool Baqar, graced the occasion as the Chief Guest and witnessed the sea phase of the exercise aboard PMSA Ship KASHMIR. Air and surface assets of the PN, PMSA, PAF, and other national stakeholders participated in the sea phase of the exercise. Demonstrations on the containment of oil spills, search and rescue operations, and anti-piracy were carried out by PN and PMSA aircraft, PN and PAF helicopters, and PMSA ships. The drills were observed by fifteen foreign observers and representatives from various national stakeholders. The foreign observers applauded the efforts of all stakeholders, especially the initiatives of the PN and PMSA, to respond to any disaster at sea.
The land phase of the exercise was conducted at Manora Beach Karachi, focusing on the response to an oil spill incident on the coast. Chairman Karachi Port Trust (KPT), Syed Syedain Raza Zaidi, graced the occasion as the Chief Guest. The drills were observed by Commander Coast, DG PMSA, delegates from friendly countries, and a large number of national stakeholders. Following the drills, beach cleaning activities were carried out by PMSA, PN, and Civil Agencies.
Exercise BARRACUDA is a marine pollution response exercise conducted biennially by PMSA since 2007. The successful three-day event served as a testament to the power of international collaboration in contending against marine pollution incidents. As the curtains draw on this successful endeavor, the lessons learned and relationships built during this exercise will serve as a foundation for continued cooperation in addressing future challenges in maritime safety and environmental protection.
Focused on refining response mechanisms and enhancing coordination among stakeholders, the exercise served as a critical platform to prepare for and address potential oil spills and other marine pollution incidents. As the world grapples with the imperative need to protect our oceans, BARRACUDA-XII stands as a testament to the power of international cooperation in combating marine pollution.