The U.S. Coast Guard is exercising its pollution response capabilities by deploying a Vessel of Opportunity Skimming System (VOSS) in New York Harbor Thursday, Feb. 15.
VOSS is a modular oil recovery system that can be secured to, and operated from, a vessel at a spill site. It is one of 19 systems pre-staged at the Atlantic Strike Team at Fort Dix, N.J., and available for immediate transport anywhere across the country. With this system, a vessel can quickly transform into an oil recovery platform with a maximum skimming capability of 190 gallons per minute. VOSS can be split between two vessels or used as a two-sided sweeping system on a single vessel. The Boston-based First Coast Guard District Response Advisory Team will evaluate the VOSS exercise.
While industry has the primary responsibility to plan, equip, and train for oil spill responses, the Coast Guard maintains equipment to augment industry capability to quickly mitigate any environmental impact.
In addition to the 175-ft. buoy tender Katherine Walker, Coast Guard units participating in this exercise include Sector New York, the 140-foot ice breaker Sturgeon Bay, Air Station Atlantic City, and the Fort Dix, N.J.-based Atlantic Strike Team. VOSS will be deployed from both the cutter Katherine Walker and cutter Sturgeon Bay.
The Coast Guard Cutter Katherine Walker is named after the famous lighthouse keeper of Robbins Reef lighthouse, which is located near the entrance to Kill Van Kull between Staten Island, N.Y. and Bayonne. Katherine Walker's primary mission is maintaining over 300 aids to navigation in and around New York Harbor, Long Island Sound, the Hudson and East Rivers, and other waterways along the Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey coastlines. The Katherine Walker also performs environmental response and protection, port security, search and rescue and ice-breaking operations.