Maritime Incident Readiness and Response (MIRR)
Maritime incidents can have a significantly negative impact on the people and economy of New Zealand. It is very important, therefore, that Maritime NZ has a response capability that can minimise harm – and can be scaled up to match the size and complexity of an event. An effective response system must be integrated, not just across Maritime NZ, but with central and local government agencies and non-government and international parties.
Why MIRR was established
Following the independent review of the Rena response, Cabinet approved funding for three years (ending June 2016) and this enabled Maritime NZ to start building a more effective readiness and response capability. Toward the end of the three-year funding approval, a business case was submitted in support of ongoing funding. This funding was approved, and has allowed us to continue a programme aimed at developing further, and consolidating preparedness and response capability. In June 2019 a further three-year term of funding was approved and Maritime NZ decided to form a separate team called the Maritime Incident Readiness and Response Team (MIRR); as it was recognised that incident response is of critical importance and required a dedicated team to further develop readiness and response.
MIRR’s role and responsibilities
The MIRR Team are responsible for developing, implementing and improving the delivery of capabilities to the non-oil components of a maritime incident in an integrated way - working with MPRS who support the National Response Team (NRT), which mobilises to the incident to manage the oil spill; and RCCNZ who manage the search and rescue aspects of a response.
The MIRR works with staff who would be called upon to form the Maritime Incident Readiness and Response Team (MIRT), which is activated to assist with a response to a maritime incident. Our MIRT structure is aligned with the Coordinated Incident Management System (CIMS) – which also includes key functions not covered in CIMS eg Investigations and Salvage, which are particular to our types of response, and help us manage and coordinate our activities.
Integrated Maritime Incident Readiness and Response Strategy
The New Zealand Integrated Maritime Readiness and Response Strategy (issue 4), is the latest version of a strategy developed in the aftermath of the grounding of the container ship, MV Rena, in 2011 off the coast of Tauranga. This revision builds on the previous edition and provides information about New Zealand’s approach to managing maritime incidents.
The Strategy sets out the strategic intent and direction that shape how Maritime NZ maintains and enhances its readiness for an effective response to maritime incidents (whatever their scale, duration, and level of complexity); and promotes a standard and coordinated national readiness and response system.
This is a companion document to the legislatively required New Zealand Marine Oil Spill Readiness and Response Strategy. Together, the two strategies form the core of how Maritime NZ contributes to New Zealand’s marine environment being and remaining safe, secure, and clean for all its users.
Training our capability to respond to a maritime incident
Exercise Ironsands II
In December 2020, Maritime New Zealand held Exercise Ironsands II, one of a series of exercises building our capability to respond to a range of maritime incidents. Exercising is a fundamental part of training and maintaining our readiness to react effectively and appropriately to events.
In this half-day exercise, nearly 70 Maritime NZ staff were activated using our incident management system and text alerts, along with several responders from other agencies. Working from Maritime NZ’s office in Wellington, they confirmed the current state of affairs with the stricken ship and the potential risks across a range of contingencies.
Participating as the Maritime Incident Response Team (MIRT), they grappled with the early stages of a potentially severe maritime incident involving the loss of a ship’s engine power under worsening conditions and in a sensitive natural area. Using the all-of-government Coordinated Incident Management System (CIMS), functional teams completed priority response activities to mitigate the risks unfolding during the simulated incident and to achieve the Incident Controller’s objectives.
Preparing for a major maritime incident
Exercise Whakautu II
In May 2016, Maritime New Zealand successfully led Exercise Whakautu II, which tested New Zealand’s preparedness for a major maritime emergency.
The three-day, national exercise was the culmination of 15 months’ work involving more than one-third of Maritime NZ’s staff, and 278 participants from 57 agencies. It brought together central, regional and local government, along with Iwi, community organisations and businesses, all under Maritime NZ’s leadership.
Working first from Maritime NZ’s office in Wellington, then from the National Crisis Management Centre at the Beehive and a quickly set up Emergency Coordination Centre (ECC) in New Plymouth, the exercise played out the response to a collision between a tanker and a cargo ship off the Taranaki coast.