Oil Spill Containment Demonstration Supports Gulf Cooperation, Readiness

Tuesday, May 02, 2006
Two U.S. Navy ships, along with Bahraini Coast Guard emergency management teams, participated in a proof-of-concept demonstration April 29 off the port of Mina Salman. USS McCampbell (DDG 85) and USNS Catawba (T-ATF 168) executed the proof of concept, which entailed simulating an oil spill and conducting the subsequent containment and recovery. During the demonstration, McCampell Sailors simulated the shipboard responses to an oil spill, including launching rigid-hull inflatable boats, assembling a hose team and using hazardous material (HAZMAT) apparatus, while Catawba Sailors launched an offshore boom (floating barrier) intended to contain a large spill at sea.

The spill response system includes two offshore skimmers (vessels), roughly 20,000 feet of offshore boom, towboats and support equipment. Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command owns the only pollution control system of this kind outside of the continental United States. Cmdr. Vincent McBeth, commanding officer of McCampell, said his Sailors were excited about participating in the proof-of-concept demonstration. McBeth, from Camden, Ark., said he considered it critical that his team understand the significance of being ready to respond to a HAZMAT eventuality aboard or even off the side of the ship.

“We're operating in this marine environment every day, and it's important that my team understand that the actions we take can either harm this environment or contribute to the security of this environment,” said McBeth. “A lot of our Gulf Coast nations rely on [these waters] for their livelihood, and it's important that we remain stewards of that environment all the time.” “We definitely proved to ourselves that we could contain any type of spill we have,” said Damage Controlman 2nd Class Jake Wright, from Fresno, Calif. “I'm proud of the way the guys responded today. Everybody knew what they were supposed to do and did exactly what they have been trained to do this entire time. "That's what we do; we're constantly training, constantly making ourselves one step better," he added. "I would go through any type of casualty with these guys.” McCampbell, homeported in San Diego, is deployed in the Persian Gulf as part of a routine rotation of U.S. maritime forces in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom and is conducting maritime security operations (MSO) while in the region. Catawba is permanently attached to Naval Support Activity Bahrain.

By Journalist 2nd Class Cassandra Thompson, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/Commander, U.S. 5th Fleet Public Affairs

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