US Coast Guard, Russian Marine Rescue Service ink pollution response agreement

The US Coast Guard cutter Bertholf departing Alaska to conduct patrols in the Bering Sea in 2015 (Photo: US Coast Guard)

The US Coast Guard and the Russian Marine Rescue Service (MRS) have ratified updates to the Joint Contingency Plan (JCP), a bilateral agreement focused on preparing for and responding to transboundary maritime pollution incidents.

The updated JCP promotes a coordinated system for planning, preparing, and responding to pollutant substance incidents in the waters between the US and Russia, particularly the Bering and Chukchi Seas.

The US and Russia have shared a cooperative bilateral agreement on trans-boundary marine pollution preparedness and response in this area since 1989.

The newest JCP revision requires joint planning and trans-boundary exercise efforts to be coordinated by a Joint Planning Group led by Alaska-based Coast Guard District Seventeen and is guided by a non-binding two-year work plan. In addition, the updated JCP creates the new International Coordinating Officer role to help facilitate the critical sharing of information during coordinated response efforts.

The shared maritime boundary between the US and Russia in the Bering and Chukchi Seas has notoriously poor weather conditions and limited resources to respond to pollution incidents. This plan primarily addresses international collaboration matters and as such is meant to augment each country’s national response system as well as state, regional, and sub-regional (local) plans.

In the United States, the operational aspects of the plan fall under the responsibility of the US Coast Guard’s Seventeenth District Commander and Sector Anchorage.

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