Spill Notification Point

Maritime Emergency Response Center (MERC) (24hrs)
Central Command for Maritime Emergencies (CCME) (Oil & HNS)

Am Alten Hafen 2
D-27472 Cuxhaven

Tel.: +49 4721 567 485

Fax: +49 4721 554 745/744

Competent National Authority

Central Command for Maritime Emergencies (CCME) - FB 2
(Section 2) (for offshore response, aerial surveillance and international affairs) Am Alten Hafen 2 D-27472 Cuxhaven

Tel.: +49 4721 567 480/ 481/ 482/ 483

Fax: +49 4721 567 490

Central Command for Maritime Emergencies (CCME) - FB 3
(Section 3) (for response in coastal waters and beach cleaning operations) Am Alten Hafen 2 D-27472 Cuxhaven

Tel.: +49 4721 567 498/ 125/ 232/ 106/ 128

Fax: +49 4721 567 365

Response Arrangements

Spill response in Germany is the joint responsibility of the Federal Government (through the Federal Waterways and Shipping Board (WSV) of the Ministry of Transport) and the Federal Coastal States of Bremen, Hamburg, Niedersachsen, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and Schleswig-Holstein. For coordinating the spill response a joint coordination and response centre was created.

The Central Command for Maritime Emergencies (CCME) was established in January 2003, incorporating the former Federal Marine Pollution Control Unit (SBM) and the State Marine Pollution Control Unit (SLM) as Sections 2 and 3. Section 2 would undertake clean-up offshore and Section 3 in waters of the five coastal states, the Wadden Sea and on shorelines. The CCME is based in Cuxhaven. It is also responsible for maintaining and updating the national response capability.  In the event of an incident the CCME will take the overall command and will establish a staff at the CCME or closer to the site of the spill if preferable. The costs of any joint response would be shared.

The Maritime Emergency Response Centre (MERC) as National Focal Point and part of the CCME would be informed about a (potential) spill or any relevant incident. The CCME officers on call would then be alerted and would convene if action at this level was required. If necessary the CCME staff would be established and would maintain control and perform On Scene Co-ordinator (OSC) duties for the whole operation from initial action to the conduct of shoreline clean-up. Agencies involved include the local Federal Waterways and Shipping Board, fire fighters and disaster relief corps etc., coordinated and assisted by CCME Sections 2 and 3 if required.

Assistance might also be sought from other organisations such as the Navy and salvage companies. Individual ports and harbours are obliged to maintain adequate contingency plans and response resources.

The national plan includes comprehensive sensitivity maps. Computer based spill tracking models are available for the North Sea, German Bight, Wadden Sea and Baltic. A computer based ship accident management system, processing data from a variety of sources, assists the national response group.

Response Policy

At sea, priority is given to mechanical recovery. The use of dispersants is permitted as a last resort response option subject to authorisation by the CCME. Dispersant application is prohibited within shallow coastal waters (less than 10m deep) and in locations with limited water exchange.  Dispersants can be used restrictively in depths of between 10 and 20 metres and may be used offshore in “spot” spraying. There is no restriction in waters deeper than 20 metres.  In the Baltic and Wadden Sea sectors, dispersant use is forbidden.  In reality, dispersants have not been used in Germany in the last 20 years (information from EMSA, 2010)



The German response inventory is considered sufficient to respond to a spill of 15,000 tonnes providing mechanical recovery is possible. Consequently, the Federal and State authorities have access to a wide variety of vessels and pollution response equipment, the majority of which are owned by government agencies and to a lesser extent by private organisations. A number of the recovery vessels are multi-purpose (suction dredgers, buoy tenders) whilst others are dedicated to pollution response. Resources are distributed among several locations, primarily the main ports, along the coast.

Two remote sensing aircraft are operated for regular surveillance operations. Further aerial resources are available from the German defence agencies and privately.


There are a number of oil spill clean-up contractors in Germany, the majority of whom are based in the major ports.

Previous Spill Experience

The freighter PALLAS (1998) spilt approximately 87.2 m³ of intermediate fuel oil into the Wadden Sea National Park, killing about 15,000 seabirds and leading to a total review of Germany's pollution response and ship disaster management arrangements. There have also been a number of small to moderate spills offshore and in the River Elbe and River Weser. 

Hazardous & Noxious Substances

The competent authority for dealing with marine pollution involving HNS is the CCME. Germany covers response to HNS in its NCP. Germany’s capability for responding to HNS spills is limited to the recovery of mainly packaged goods. However, interventions in highly explosive and toxic atmospheres are possible because of the very sophisticated gas protection and analysing systems on board its 4 multipurpose vessels (2 stationed in the North Sea and 2 in the Baltic). These vessels are all equipped with detection, recovery and storage devices for hazardous substances and accommodation and equipment facilities for additional strike units of 30 people each. They can also do sampling of air and water and in situ atmospheric monitoring. Germany has specialised response teams for HNS spills. The fire brigade are also available for HNS response. Regular exercises and training programmes have been established for vessels and personnel. Germany has several experts from scientific agencies and industry who come together on a case by case basis to advise the CCME. Germany has been involved in the response to a number of HNS incidents, including IEVOLI SUN (2000, Styrene, methyl ethyl ketone, isopropyl alcohol and ANDINET (2003, Arsenic pentoxide). (Information from EMSA, 2008)


Prevention & Safety

MARPOL Annexes

Spill Response



'69 '76 '92 '92Fund

* not yet in force 

Regional & Bilateral Agreements

  • Barcelona Convention (with states bordering the Mediterranean)
  • RAMOGE (a trilateral agreement with France and Monaco).
  • Bilateral agreement with Greece (covering the Ionian Sea).
  • Member of the European Community Task Force.

 For further information see also REMPEC (Regional Marine Pollution Emergency Response Centre for the Mediterranean Sea) Country Profile (

Date of issue: December 2011

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