If we’re lucky, the Deepwater Horizon blowout and oil leak will never be surpassed as the worst oil spill in U.S. history.
However, to believe that because of new, more rigorous safety measures that have been implemented since then that oil spills are a thing of the past would be naive. There will be oil spills in the future. It’s the nature of the beast.
That said, the Gulf of Mexico has a new tool at its disposal to help in the cleanup process. Clean Gulf Associates took delivery this week of the 95’x21’x10’5″ H.I. Rich, an aluminum rapid-response oil spill cleanup vessel built at Harvey, La.-based Midship Marine. The yard is currently building two more of these OSRVs for delivery this fall.
The H.I. Rich, named for former Clean Gulf Associates executive director Harry I. Rich, will be homeported in Leeville, La. The other two vessels will be positioned in Venice, La., and Galveston, Texas.
The new vessels feature three Lamor brush skimmers, 249 bbls. of recovered oil storage, Furuno X-band radar, Aptomar infrared camera, AIS, and ship-to-shore communications via satellite.
“By having three of them and having them pre-positioned in the Gulf, we will be able to respond within a couple of hours and get them on scene very rapidly to an oil spill,” Frank Paskewich, Clean Gulf’s executive director, told me following christening ceremonies in Harvey.
The average speed of steel-hulled OSRVs comes in at six to 10 knots. But the twin Caterpillar C-32 diesels on these boats give them an average speed of 24 knots.
The total cost for the three vessels will be about $10.5 million.
While the industry won’t be able to stay totally spill free, it’s good to know that there is new equipment that can get the oil out of the water more quickly than in the past. That’s good news.