French Navy Assists in Wakashio Grounding in Mauritius

August 11, 2020 (Google Translation) – On July 25, 2020, the MV Wakashio ran aground on reefs located at the south-eastern tip of Mauritius. Due to the oil spill at sea, the armed forces in the southern Indian Ocean zone (FAZSOI) mobilized and intervened in support of their Mauritian partner in order to fight against marine pollution.

On August 6, 2020, Mauritian authorities confirmed that a crack in the hull was leaking oil. The same day, Jacques Billant, government delegate for State action at sea activated a crisis unit bringing together the office for State action at sea in the southern maritime zone of the Indian Ocean, the South Indian Ocean Sea Directorate (DMSOI), the Regional Operational Surveillance and Rescue Center (CROSS), the armed forces in the southern Indian Ocean area (FAZSOI), the action of the State at Sea (AEM), the diplomatic cell and the defense zone staff.

At the same time, Mauritius approached France through diplomatic channels in application of a sub-regional emergency plan involving the countries of the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC) for material and human assistance to fight against this episode of marine pollution. (POLMAR).

Reacting immediately, the FAZSOI mobilized from Saturday August 08, 2020 air and sea resources for the delivery of equipment to fight against this POLMAR. A CASA CN-235 from Air Detachment 181 (DA-181) made the first of its two rotations to our regional partner. It had on board 5.5 tons of material consisting of 600m of coastal boom, as well as a precursor echelon of military and civilian experts.

At the same time, at the Port-des-Galets naval base, the Champlain Overseas Support and Assistance Building (BSAOM) was carrying a large stock of additional equipment. A cargo made up of over 700m of absorbent and offshore booms, several types of recuperators / skimmers, and pumping equipment (motor pumps and suction and delivery pipes). Experts in the fight against oil at sea and on land have also visited the site to provide reinforcement.

The material resources deployed by the FAZSOI are made available to the Mauritian authorities as part of their strategy to combat the pollution observed at sea and on land. National experts sent to the site are responsible for providing advice in the operational use of resources.

The use of the “Mothy” simulation tool made it possible to model the hypotheses of drift of oil slicks according to their nature and the environmental conditions in the area. The results show that at this stage, the Reunion coast is not threatened. The effectiveness of the POLMAR sea system was tested in Reunion Island during a major exercise organized in December 2019 mobilizing all the stakeholders concerned.

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