Coast Guard members from Sector St. Petersburg, Fla., and the Coast Guard Cutter Joshua Appleby, homeported in St. Petersburg, along with personnel from Port Manatee, conducted a pollution-response exercise at the Port of Manatee in Palmetto on Nov. 13.
The exercise was aimed at testing and improving the Coast Guard's ability to assemble, deploy and operate a Vessel of Opportunity Skimming System (VOSS). A VOSS is used to isolate and collect the spilled substance during or after a spill. A VOSS is designed to be transported to a spill site and convert a vessel, 60-feet or longer, into a single-ship, substance recovery platform. The Coast Guard Cutter Joshua Appleby, a 175-foot buoy tender, was used in the training exercise.
The last time a VOSS was deployed in the Tampa Bay area was Aug. 10, 1993, when two inbound fuel barges and an outbound phosphate freighter collided, spilling approximately 300,000 gallons of fuel.
The Coast Guard has 19 of these systems pre-positioned nationwide for pollution response. Port Manatee houses the Tampa Bay area's VOSS equipment along with 5,000-feet of foam-filled boom.
Each VOSS consists of two of the following:
• Outrigger assembly with lifting davit
• Sweep boom to collect the spilled substance
• DESMI 250 floating weir skimmer with diesel-driven hydraulic prime mover and control stand/air compressor to recover the substance
• Submersible off-loading pump
• Portable inflatable barge (26,000 gallons) to store the substance
(Source: U.S. Coast Guard)