Jamaica’s readiness for Mass Rescue Operations (MRO) in its maritime space is being boosted with the assistance of a subject matter expert from the US Coast Guard, who is conducting a comprehensive training workshop, ending today (Thursday) for representatives with the relevant ministries, departments and agencies within the Government of Jamaica.
The island is a key destination for cruise ships and a major air transportation hub and so the country’s ability and readiness to respond to an incident which would entail a mass response within its shared maritime domain, is of paramount importance to the region and neighbouring states.
Recent disasters involving the Costa Concordia in Italy in 2012 and the SEWOL ferry incident in the Republic of Korea in April 16 this year, are among those incidents which have spurred the GOJ to take proactive steps.
The Maritime Authority of Jamaica (MAJ) coordinated the request for assistance from the United States (U.S.) Coast Guard through the US Military Liaison Office at the US Embassy in Kingston. In turn, US Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington, DC committed to provide the expert assistance to Jamaica and nominated the expert to conduct the training assistance.
The Jamaica Defence Force Coast Guard has responsibility for the national maritime operations search and rescue, while the Office of Disaster Preparedness (ODPEM) has the ultimate responsibility for overall disaster and emergency actions preparedness. However, the MAJ, as Jamaica’s maritime administration and the focal point for shipping safety and pollution prevention, is the maritime lead agency which will coordinate the initial training and development of a contingency plan, along with the active participation of the relevant agencies.