GALLERY: Italian Navy’s counter pollution exercise Caralis 2016

Italian Navy’s most important counter pollution exercise, Caralis 2016, was held in Cagliari, Italy, on July 7 and 8.

This year, the exercise took place off the Southern Sardinian coast, and – as in past editions – consisted in two main parts, one technical/theoretical and one practical-operational.

The Italian Naval fleet includes a number of patrol vessels specially designed to counter environmental emergencies which periodically conduct specific exercises with the aim of testing procedures and operational effectiveness, and training crews.

In addition to the periodical exercises, several naval vessels alongside other local ships take part in a complex annual exercise aimed at preparing sailors to deal with a diverse range of emergencies, through highly realistic simulation.

Exercise Caralis 2016 was organised and coordinated by the Augusta-based Naval Patrol Forces Headquarters (COMFORPAT), through the First Patrol Boat Squadron (COMSQUAPAT UNO), which is composed of the 6 Italian Navy units equipped with anti-pollution capabilities, ITS Orione and Sirio (Costellazioni Class 2nd series) as well as Cassiopea, Libra, Spica and Vega (Costellazioni Class 1st series).

The seminar – in its 9th edition – was held at the University of Cagliari and hosted a panel of speakers including representatives of the Italian Navy, university and scientific community, along with experts in marine environmental protection.

Navy representatives outlined the Italian Navy’s capabilities for countering marine pollution, along with its dual use activities and promotion of environmental sustainability through energy efficiency strategies.

On the next day, July 7, the exercise at sea was conducted by three anti-pollution patrol vessels, ITS Sirio, Orione and Vega, in tandem with ships of the Harbour Masters Corps and Castalia Group, involving more than 250 personnel and equipment specially designed to deal with and contain a fictional spillage of over 500 cubic metres of hydrocarbons.

The oil tanker accident due to collision in the Gulf of Cagliari was simulated by ITS Procida in a most likely scenario, in consideration of the volume of maritime traffic in the exercise area, due to the presence of the local petrochemical pole.

Once the oil spill has been contained with floating booms, a seawater sample was taken for laboratory analysis onboard ITS Orione in order to monitor contamination levels and optimize anti-pollution operations. Then, in the removal phase, all ships used their own skimmers to physically remove floating spills from the water surface.

At the same time, the Prefecture of Cagliari – constantly connected via video-conferencing systems to the units at sea and to the Harbour Masters Corps operations room – activated its own control room, simulating interventions aimed at minimizing the environmental impact if the oil slick washes ashore.

During the exercise, Italian Navy vessels were powered by a renewable synthetic fuel alternative to oil, the so-called Green Diesel, which enables a nearly 40% reduction in CO2 emissions leading to the formation of fine dust particles.