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Safety for the offshore industry – from Bremen

The only safety centre of its kind in northern Europe

Bremen, 21 June 2012. A new centre for safety at sea is being created in Bremen in the form of the “European Offshore HSSE Centre”. “HSSE” is the acronym for “Health, Safety, Security and the Environment”. The Centre is being developed by Bremeninvest (WFB Wirtschaftsförderung Bremen GmbH) and Europe-CENTER AG at City Airport Bremen. Also on board is the Gesellschaft für Maritimes Notfallmanagement mbH (Maritime Emergency Management Agency), a subsidiary of the German Maritime Search and Rescue Service (Deutsche Gesellschaft zur Rettung Schiffbrüchiger – DGzRS), which aims to provide safety in the north German coastal areas with a unique emergency response centre for offshore wind farms.

“By establishing this Centre, the sea rescuers at the DGzRS wish to input their experience and concentrate emergency rescue operations for offshore wind farms in Bremen”, explained Martin Günthner, Senator (Minister) for the Economy and Ports of the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen, at today’s official launch of the project. “Bremen has distinguished itself as a key location for the German wind energy industry and is a pioneer in the field of offshore wind farms – this is where a close-knit network of enterprises has come into being. Attractive and viable jobs are being created here.” The wind energy industry in the state of Bremen now comprises around 150 companies with a total workforce of around 5,500.

More than 100 wind farms in the German North Sea and Baltic Sea areas are being planned, and more than 1,000 people will be permanently deployed in offshore jobs. A safety concept is mandatory for offshore wind farm operators. The new emergency response centre operated by the Gesellschaft für Maritimes Notfallmanagement mbH will be responsible for all emergency alerts, deployment and organisation – thus obviating the need for each operator to implement its own separate rescue and surveillance concept, and the respective infrastructure. This signifies a substantial reduction in costs, so in return the operators will bear the costs for operating the response centre. One thing is certain for the DGzRS: the sea rescue organisation, which still finances all its work purely with voluntary donations and without any government funding, will not use any donation money to discharge this additional responsibility, which goes beyond its mission as defined in its statutes.

“We offered our experience to offshore wind farm operators. We can assume this coordination function if the industry wants us to and is prepared to put up the finance. These proposals were met with great interest on the part of operators. If everything runs to schedule, the Centre can commence operations before the end of 2013, in the new premises provided for this purpose in the Europe Centre”, explains Captain Udo Helge Fox, member of the Executive Board of the DGzRS and the Gesellschaft für Maritimes Notfallmanagement mbH. Until then, operations will be managed from the premises of the DGzRS Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre in Bremen.

“As the person responsible for government emergency preparedness, I greatly welcome this new advance. Centralising in one emergency response centre the tasks to be performed by companies represents a considerable advance in quality. By bringing in the DGzRS, offshore companies now have the competent partner in the field of maritime rescue on board. I hope that even more companies will participate in this solution”, says Hans-Werner Monsees, head of the Cuxhaven-based Central Command for Maritime Emergencies, emphasising the importance of a such a centre.

“With the ‘European Offshore HSSE Center’, we are creating a competence centre in Bremen that will provide crucial benefits to companies that have to address safety at sea issues”, adds Andreas Heyer, CEO of Bremeninvest (WFB). “In addition to Bremen’s central location for the various coastal sites, these benefits include scale effects for logistics and personnel, short information and communication pathways and, last but not least, the Centre’s immediate vicinity to the airport.” The addressees include wind farm operators, field offices of wind turbine installation companies, helicopter services and other service providers in the fields of project planning, finance and insurance.

The structures established in the “European Offshore HSSE Centre” are tailored precisely to the needs of potential partners: “As a pioneer for this investment location, we are delighted about the new driving force that will come from the offshore safety centre”, says Dr Gregor Brendel, CEO of Europe-CENTER AG. “We offer excellent conditions here for companies in the offshore industry. The premises are flexible and can be tailored to the special requirements of such firms with customised floor plans and a wide range of optional features.”

Further information for interested companies from the wind energy industry can be obtained from Dr Erika Voigt, Tel. +49 (0)421 9600-337, erika.voigt@wfb-bremen.de; the contact for maritime safety is Dr Ralf Wöstmann, Tel. +49 (0)421 9600-355, ralf.woestmann@wfb-bremen.de. 

(from left to right) Hans-Werner Monsees, Central Command for Maritime Emergencies, Martin Günthner, Senator (Minister) for the Economy and Ports of the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen, Kapitän Udo Helge Fox, DGzRS and Gesellschaft für Maritimes Notfallmanagement mbH, Andreas Heyer, Bremeninvest, and Dr. Gregor Brendel, EUROPA-CENTER AG. 
Foto: WFB / Frank Pusch