Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre (MRCC) Riga is an integral part of the Latvian Coast Guard and is co-located with Riga Rescue Radio communication centre. Search and Rescue, Maritime Safety and Security and Marine Environment protection are the main priorities of MRCC Riga. Latvian Costal GMDSS and AIS systems play a crucial role in Search and Rescue, providing a link between casualty and co-ordinating authority - MRCC Riga. Riga Rescue Radio keeps continuous watch on International Maritime Distress, Urgency and Safety channels and frequencies on VHF and MF.
Also one of the most important MRCC duties is to serve as SAR point of contact (SPOC Latvia) within Global Cospas-Sarsat system, Latvia is in the Norwegian Mission Control Centre (MCC) Bodo service area. MRCC Riga-SPOC Latvia assumes responsibility for handling and, if necessary, transfer of all incoming Cospas-Sarsat Distress alert data located within its national area of responsibility for SAR - Search and Rescue Region. On a daily basis Riga Rescue Radio broadcasts Maritime Safety information (MSI) to mariners around the Latvian coast, thus promulgating important information for Safety of navigation inside Latvian SRR.
Throughout the year Declared maritime assets are on duty in major Latvian ports: Liepaja, Ventspils and Riga; our declared air assets, rescue helicopters Mi-17 are based in Lielvarde. Rescue helicopter has the capacity of 24 persons, speed max. 250 km/h and the range up to 600 km, endurance 2,5 hours. Refuelling can be provided (including foreign SAR rotary wings) near the port of Ventspils - at Ventspils airport. There are several parent organizations which participate in SAR effort in Latvia, the main of them are Boarder Guard, State Fire and Rescue Service and National Medical service. Border Guard provide additional maritime and air assets; State Fire and Rescue Service participate in inshore Search and Rescue, also assist Latvian Coast Guard in oil pollution response operations; National Medical service together with MRCC provide Telemedical advice over radio at sea; medical team, at the request from MRCC, flies on board the Rescue helicopter to render immediate assistance to casualty during Medical evacuation at sea.
As far as marine environment protection is concerned MRCC co-ordinates all actions in connection with oil pollution response at sea. There are 4 vessels and one sea barge for offshore oil containment and pollution recovery. Each of these vessels could be equipped with oil pollution response equipment: skimmers of different types and sea-class containment booms. 6 specialized trucks and 10 containers could be used to transport oil response equipment from its storage place. Maritime Incident Response group has been set up to carry out the complex task of transporting, mounting the equipment on board the designated vessels and handling it during the offshore operation.
CleanSeaNet network assists MRCC to monitor Latvian territorial sea and Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) for possible sea pollution from transiting shipping. It is the near real time European satellite based oil spill monitoring and vessel detection service. This network provides information on possible oil spills, pollution alerts within 30 minutes after satellite imagery acquisition which allows effective use of the data for tracking the source of pollution. AIS vessel traffic information is integrated into CleanSeaNet, thus making it possible to detect and identify vessels suspected for illegal discharge of oil or other harmful substances.
Other important networks used by MRCC are : SafeSeaNet, CECIS and LRIT.
SafeSeaNet is a unique example of a common vessel traffic monitoring and information system covering all European Member States, established in order to enhance: maritime safety, port and maritime security, marine environment protection, efficiency of maritime traffic. This network is an indispensible tool for the MRCC to maintain and supervise Maritime Safety and Security in Latvian Search and Rescue Region.
CECIS is EU common emergency communication and information system for civil protection and environmental emergencies. MRCC uses this system to exchange information, share resources and , if need be, request assistance from European partners to handle environmental and other disasters.
Long Range Identification and Tracking (LRIT) of ships is an international system, within it Latvian Coast Guard Service is designated as National Competent Authority, the duty of which is to supervise the functionality and maintain it in operational condition. LRIT task is to ensure the highest level of maritime safety, security and environmental protection around the world.
FIMAR and SeaTrackWeb software are used in Oil response and SAR operations. Web based SeaTrackWeb programme is HELCOM oil and object drift forecasting software used by Rescue Services in the Baltic region to calculate oil and object predicted movement on the water. Developed in Latvia, FIMAR software has similar functionality plus more extensive weather forecasting options.
MRCC Riga co-operates with Maritime Administration of Latvia and Transport Accident and Incident Investigation Bureau (TAIIB) providing them with necessary information for Marine casualty investigation.
Wherever you are MRCC Riga wishes you a SAFE passage!