RABIGH: Saudi authorities have hosted a practical exercise to prepare for maritime emergencies, boosting the Kingdom’s readiness and improving marine safety and environmental protection.

Marine accidents can cause human and material loss, water and air pollution, environmental destruction and more. Preventing accidents is a key focus of the National Plan for Marine Disaster Management.

On Wednesday the “Search and Rescue 43” practical exercise took place in the territorial water of Rabigh governorate of the Makkah region.

The drill was overseen by senior border guards, including Saudi Border Guards director general and chairman of the standing committee for the management of maritime disasters in the regional waters of the Kingdom, Gen. Mohammad bin Abdullah Al-Shehri.

A further 31 members of governmental and nongovernmental agencies were also present.

It aimed to prepare for marine disasters such as collision accidents and crashes, which result in fuel spills, drownings, fire, explosion and loss of life.

The training — held on the Red Sea shore 45 miles north of Jeddah — included a two-hour scenario of a full rescue and evacuation operation on a McDonnell Douglas MD-90 aircraft carrying 150 passengers, including cabin crew.

It was implemented by the Border Guards, Civil Defense, Saudi Red Crescent Authority, General Directorate of Passport, among others, and demonstrated cooperation between Saudi national authorities.

The scenario included practice fuel spills, fires and injured passengers, with each authority demonstrating the correct procedures to respond to the emergencies.

The exercise raised the level of joint performance of governmental and nongovernmental agencies in facing accidents and disasters.

Al-Shehri said: “What we have seen today indicates good cooperation between national authorities, professionalism in performance and containment of the situation.

“Through these exercises, we aim to reach the highest international levels in search and rescue operations. A plane evacuation scenario was implemented despite the rare occurrence of these disasters. However, it was implemented by following international standards.”

He thanked the Prince Sultan Academy of Aviation Sciences for taking part in presenting the scenarios.

Al-Shehri added that it can often take multiple days to bring real marine disasters under control, but that through exercises and practice scenarios, the response and recovery time can be shortened.

“We look forward to further progress,” Al-Shehri said.

All phases of the training were managed and coordinated by the Jeddah Maritime Rescue Coordination Center to help authorities achieve their goals and objectives.

The training comes as an extension of previous meetings and efforts to assist marine disaster victims.