POSTED APRIL 15th, 2012
Story and photos by Petty Officer 1st Class Karen Sinkey Pacific Strike Team
Members of the Pacific Strike Team joined forces with the 14th Coast Guard District Response Advisory Team for the annual Vessel of Opportunity Skimming System exercise in American Samoa’s Pago Pago April 2 – 4, 2012.
The Samoan Islands are not easily accessible because of their isolated location in the middle of the central Pacific Ocean. This can pose a challenge for pollution response efforts when time is critical, so the Coast Guard has staged VOSS and other oil spill response equipment in the Port of American Samoa to minimize response time.
The VOSS transforms a vessel into an oil skimming platform. The system has a skimming and pumping capacity of 190 gallons per minute. The staged equipment ensures that the Samoan Islands will have oil spill containment and recovery resources readily available in the event of a spill.
This training created a unique opportunity for the Coast Guard to work with local mariners, their vessels, and area response planners. During the deployment, the teams worked with the crew of the motor vessel Sili in the setup and deployment of a VOSS. The crew gained valuable insight in the preparation needed to set up the system.
“Every time we deploy, we are able to evaluate our skills, find discrepancies in the program, and take action to correct the problems,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Adam Anderson, a machinery technician with the Pacific Strike Team.
The combined efforts of the DRAT, Marine Safety Detachment American Samoa, and Pacific Strike Team personnel led to a successful deployment of the VOSS and spill response equipment.
"District Fourteen has one of the most remote areas of operation in the Coast Guard,” said Lt. Ryan Dickson, an environmental specialist and DRAT supervisor. “Due to the span of distance that government and commercial response resources must deal with, it is imperative that we continue to engage and participate in pollution response exercises with the local government, Oil Spill Response Organizations, and on-island Coast Guard personnel."
“The World’s Best Responders: Any Time, Any Place, Any Hazard.”