Coast Guard personnel from Sector St. Petersburg, along with members from Port Manatee and Tampa Fire and Rescue, conducted a pollution-response exercise
at the Port of Manatee in Palmetto, Fla., from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. today.
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 Falcon, a 90-foot tug owned by Sea Bulk Towing, was used in today's 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.