The director of the Oceanic Platform of the Canary Islands (PLOCAN), José Joaquín Hernández Brito, thanked the Air Force for its excellent and profitable collaboration in the activities of the Consortium in the presence of the delegate of the Government of the Canary Islands, Anselmo Pestana Padrón, of the Chief of Air Command of the Canary Islands (MACAN), Juan Pablo Sánchez de Lara, and the director of the Canary Islands Agency for Research, Innovation and Information Society, (ACIISI) Carlos Navarro Martínez.
Hernández Brito expressed PLOCAN’s recognition of the Canary Islands Rescue Coordination Center (RCC Canarias) and 802 Squadron of the Armed Forces of 46 Wing in a ceremony held at the onshore facilities of PLOCAN in Taliarte, in which the delegate of the Government congratulated the two institutions and expressed that “their collaboration is exemplary”.
Pestana highlighted the work of RCC Canarias in rescuing people in situations of great vulnerability and “at risk of endangering their own lives” and valued the knowledge that PLOCAN provides to initiate a rescue task with the possibility of locating almost exactly the place where the boat is located.
Juan Pablo Sánchez de Lara thanked the recognition and affirmed that it is not possible to act without the support of many people, both military and civil, so that the helicopter that rescues and the plane that performs the search fulfill their mission and, especially, in the main task of providing security “facing the enormous challenge of the Canary Islands, with a space three times greater than the Iberian Peninsula and an ocean that is sometimes very cruel” with intense maritime and air traffic.
The General Sánchez de Lara expressed the SAR’s vocation of service and recalled that it has saved four thousand lives and this year “eight lives to the limit of what is possible, with resuscitation maneuvers of our personnel and medical evacuations of Covid patients, as well as the support for SASEMAR”.
He added that PLOCAN provides “the detail that makes the difference between success and failure, since the information that provides is sometimes essential for consulting the ocean currents.”
The director of the ACIISI expressed his satisfaction for the very good collaboration that exists between PLOCAN and the Air Force “from which we all win, and very especially because it is people who are behind and who are rewarded for these actions”, while thanking RCC Canarias for help in locating scientific devices.
Carlos Navarro added that data is very important for the Armed Forces to act accurately and urgently, and in this sense he considered that the digitization of the oceans is essential.
Hernández Brito pointed out that collaboration with the Air Force is a source of pride for the Consortium, “we feel very useful, in addition to creating jobs, contributing to science and technological development, we put our help to save lives in a large Atlantic space”, and expressed PLOCAN’s commitment to incorporate improvements in the ocean observing system to improve knowledge and provide more efficient support.
Monitoring the marine environment will become increasingly rich and will bring more data management and oceanographic information with smarter processing, he added.
He recalled that PLOCAN, the RCC Canarias and the 802 Squadron of the Armed Forces have been collaborating for more than 16 years in the study of marine currents in order to establish search and rescue patterns in cases of incidents or accidents in the maritime zone of the Canary Islands.
This collaboration has been collected since 2005 with the signing of an agreement between the Ministry of Defense and PLOCAN, which has subsequently been renewed and formalizes the collaboration between the 802 SAR Squadron and the RCC Canarias with PLOCAN in joint actions in accidents and emergencies, in accident simulation exercises, as well as in the support of helicopters from the 802 Squadron of the SAR for the deployment and collection of ocean scientific devices.
The wide area of responsibility of the RCC Canarias and the 802 Squadron of the SAR includes a variety of oceanic areas with different maritime currents, of continuous variation in intensity and direction, which requires the collaboration of all the institutions that provide valuable information for the programming of searches by establishing the area of maximum probability and direction of the drift, which allows setting a suitable search pattern.
PLOCAN has a data service from different observation platforms, both in real time and historical. It also has specialized software in maritime modeling for the study of drifting objects and pollutant dispersion, so PLOCAN provides the RCC with current data in real-time and future-time predictions in cases of real accidents at sea, as well as in drills that are carried out periodically.
In addition, during this period of collaboration, the helicopters of the SAR 802 Squadron have participated in more than 60 maneuvers for the deployment or collection of PLOCAN observation instruments, contributing to the study and monitoring of surface currents in the area.