The good news it that the frequency of oil spills is reducing. Better preparedness and prevention measures, quality systems and the sheer threat of the political and economic damage that may rise have focussed attention on this area.

We should not however allow ourselves to be complacent. A key component of preparedness is the training and exercising of contingency plans. Whilst the regime for the submission of contingency plans is generally well established, training and exercises are poorly regulated.

Some countries regulate the frequency with which training must be carried out, but in most places it is haphazard and generally dependent on local management. In very few places is the currency of training considered as a factor in the competence of those trained. To draw a parallel, is a terminal fire drill limited to once every three years just because we do not have fires, and is the competence of staff assumed or measured in some manner?

This paper will look at the issues behind training and exercises and propose that not only should the frequency be regulated but also question whether the quality, competence and currency of trainers be assessed. The author will also look at different training regimes around the globe to assess their relative merits as a template for others to follow.

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Author notes

1 DISCLAIMER: The opinions and views expressed in this paper are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of any other party.