With over 40 participants, the gathering in Helsinki was the largest ACGF Experts meeting of the Finnish Chairmanship thus far. The meeting functioned as the Main Planning Conference of the ACGF’s upcoming Polaris 2019 Live Exercise, which contributed to larger delegations from each ACGF Member state. The ACGF Combined Operations Working Group is in charge of the planning of the second Live Exercise of the Forum, which takes place in Finland in the first week of April 2019. At this stage the participating assets of the Polaris 2019 exercise consist of vessels from Finland, Sweden, Russia and Norway, airplanes from Iceland and Denmark and SAR helicopters from Finland and Norway. The exercise planning will continue during the upcoming months and the Final Planning Conference of Polaris 2019 will be organized in Iceland in January 2019.
While the Combined Operations Working Group focused on planning of the Live Exercise during the meeting, the ACGF Secretariat discussed other current and upcoming activities of the Forum. One of the main agenda items of the Secretariat was the Chairmanship of the Icelandic Coast Guard, as they will take over the Chairmanship from Finland in April 2019. During their Chairmanship the Icelandic Coast Guard aims to deepen cooperation between the ACGF and some of its key stakeholders, such as the Association for Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO) and the Arctic Council’s Working Group on Emergency Prevention, Preparedness and Response (EPPR).
While the Icelandic Coast Guard acts as the Chair of the ACGF itself, the Swedish Coast Guard will take over the Chairmanship of the Forum’s Combined Operations Working Group between 2019 and 2021. The ACGF’s next Table Top Exercise is organized in 2020 and the Forum’s third Live Exercise is planned to take place in year 2021.