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Archived News Release 01-11-2005

Red Eagle plays pivotal role in Solfire 2005

On Tue 1 November, Red Eagle played a pivotal role in this year’s SOLFIRE Exercise in the western Solent. Organised by the Maritime Coastguard Agency and coordinated by the Solent Coastguard Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre, the exercise sought to test the procedures of all the emergency services and their response to a non-routine maritime incident in the Solent.

The emergency exercise started before dawn on Tuesday 1st November and did not finish until mid afternoon. The exercise scenario involved a notional helicopter accident over the Red Funnel ferry ‘Red Eagle’ which was on route from East Cowes to Southampton.

The vessel anchored in the Western Solent and Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service staged a fire onboard using special effects.

The south coast based exercise ‘SOLFIRE’ is a contingency plan developed to deal with maritime emergencies or non-routine incidents occurring within the jurisdictions of Solent Coastguard, Queen’s Harbour Master - Portsmouth and Associated British Port of Southampton

The exercise was live and primarily intended to test the Maritime and Coastguard Agency’s initiation of a major incident plan and subsequent notification cascades including activations of Search and Rescue units.

Exercise participants included:

• QHM Portsmouth
• ABP Southampton
• Hampshire Constabulary
• Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service
• East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service
• Hampshire Ambulance Service
• Sussex Ambulance Service
• Royal National Lifeboat Institution
• Solent Sea Rescue Organisation
• Red Funnel
• Hampshire County Council
• Isle of Wight Council
• Portsmouth City Council
• Southampton City Council
• 17 Port & Maritime Regiment, Royal Logistic Corps
• Hurst Castle Ferry

Lee Fisher, Rescue Co-ordination Centre Manager, Solent Coastguard said:
“SOLFIRE South has enabled a wide range of organisations to come together and exercise their emergency response to a major maritime incident.
From this event we are able to look at the exercise learning points and identify better working practices for all concerned, which will no doubt improve the emergency response to incidents on or around the Solent for years to come.
I will personally reflect on the team spirit and professionalism displayed by a diverse range of agencies committed to the SOLFIRE plan”

Tom Docherty, Managing Director, Red Funnel,said:
"Today's Solfire exercise was extremely useful to Red Funnel. All the procedures and practices worked well, and we are very pleased to have had the opportunity to provide the vessel and to have worked closely with all parties involved, including the emergency services and particularly the Coastguard, during the exercise. We would also like to thank the students of Highbury College for acting as journalists covering the incident."

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