The armed forces rescued a merchant ship loaded with chemical products hijacked in the Mediterranean, in the “First Defender 19” practice drill

The VB XALOC tugboat served as the hijacked vessel in this operation

Boluda Corporación Marítima’s Spanish towage division Boluda Towage Spain has once again collaborated with the Spanish Army in the “First Defender” military drill, involving the rescue of a ship loaded with chemical products in Mediterranean waters.

Boluda Towage Spain provided the VB XALOC tug, which was transformed for the drill into a ship transporting dangerous chemicals. A terrorist group had hijacked the vessel, seeking to provoke an environmental disaster in the vicinity of a Mediterranean coastal city.

The operation was led by the NBQ Valencia 1 Brigade, supported by special operations, engineer and transmission units and teams from the Military Intelligence brigade and the Military Police battalion.

Each unit brought their specific abilities to the operation: the Special Operations unit took control of the ship and neutralized the terrorists; a special explosives deactivation group diagnosed and deactivated all explosive threats; the NBC Valencia 1 military unit detected and identified aggressive chemicals, and a Military Police Intelligence team accompanied by intelligence, bomb disposal and NBQ specialists, collected documentary evidence of electronic equipment, chemical products and explosive charges. An inventory was also made to determine if any toxics had been removed for illegal purposes.

All personnel exposed to chemicals were later decontaminated, while computer equipment and data, documentation, forensic samples and explosives were analysed or sent to higher level laboratories. On-board contamination control was also carried out in port.

The lessons learned from this exercise will serve to improve NBC threat response, for which the NBC No. 1 brigade is the main defence unit available to the Army.

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