The U.S. Coast Guard is exercising their pollution response capabilities by deploying a Vessel of Opportunity Skimming System (VOSS) from the Coast Guard Cutter Katherine Walker, a 175-ft. Keeper class buoy tender home ported in , , in Thursday, June 26, 2008.
Media are invited to observe the exercise from aboard the Katherine Walker or the Coast Guard Cutter Sturgeon Bay, a 140-ft. Bay-class ice breaking cutter home ported in Bayonne, N.J., also involved in the exercise.
The will host high school students from the Science and Technology Preview summer camp, an environmental education program based in , for the event. After the deployment, the students will meet the cutter Katherine Walker crew in for a tour of the ship and the VOSS equipment.
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 throughout the country and one of two systems used by the Coast Guard's Atlantic Strike Team based at Fort Dix, N.J., and can be immediately deployed 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 the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration require industry 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 Katherine Walker and , Coast Guard units participating in this exercise include Sector and the Atlantic Strike Team, the service's premier pollution response experts.
The Coast Guard Cutter Katherine Walker is named after the famous keeper of Robbins Reef lighthouse, located near the entrance to the Kill Van Kull between , and . Katherine Walker's primary mission is maintaining over 300 aids to navigation in and around , Long Island Sound, the and , and other waterways along the , , and coastlines. The Katherine Walker also performs environmental response and protection, port security, search and rescue and ice-breaking operations.