KARACHI: A ceremony was held on Tuesday at a local hotel to mark the opening of exercise Barracuda-IX being organised by the Pakistan Maritime Security Agency (PMSA) from Dec 4-6.

The sea phase of the exercise would be held today (Dec 5) in the North Arabian Sea near Karachi whereas the land phase is scheduled at Clifton beach on Dec 6.

Twenty foreign observers, including those from Turkey, China, Japan, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, Maldives and Sri Lanka, are participating in the exercise.

Welcoming the guests, Rear Admiral Zaka Ur Rehman, the PMSA director general, spoke about the exercise’s objectives and said that it would help build expertise in marine oil spill response, and search and rescue procedures as per the National Marine Disaster Contingency Plan.

Inclusion of foreign observers, he said, was an essential step in coordinated regional response to oil spills as well as for search and rescue operations.

“The exercise is being organised regularly under the overall coordination of PMSA. I am confident that the working relations created during this exercise would prove fruitful in any future catastrophe requiring efforts from regional partners,” he said.

Minister for Maritime Affairs and chief guest Ali Haider Zaidi appreciated the commitment of all stakeholders for their efforts in coordinating and leading the exercise in a professional manner.

“It’s obligatory upon all national agencies and related organisations to remain prepared for all kinds of challenges including natural calamities,” he said.

Published in Dawn, December 5th, 2018