Since its formation in 1972, the New Orleans-based, non-profit oil spill response cooperative Clean Gulf Associates (CGA) has provided a much welcomed means of responding to offshore industry-related oil spills affecting the Gulf of Mexico and Gulf Coast.Supported by 112 private companies, CGA also works in tandem with the US Coast Guard (USCG), US Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement and numerous regulatory agencies in the Gulf Coast to protect the coast and its habitat from the effects of oil pollution.
CGA recently took delivery of a new aluminium rapid response vessel, to deal with such incidents. Constructed locally, by Harvey, Louisiana-based Midship Marine, and valued at US$5 million, the new 28.96m x 6.4m vessel J.L. O’Brien is named after the late Jim O’Brien, a USCG officer who had a hand in the response efforts of incidents such as the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster and the 2010 Macondo blowout.
The 95dwt vessel, which has a depth of 3.35m and a 1.68m draught, is reportedly the fourth of its type to have been built by Midship Marine for CGA. Following handover, the boat is now stationed at Leeville, Louisiana.
J.L. O’Brien boasts some distinctive features, compared to its three predecessors. Perhaps the most notable is the inclusion of a Seakeeper 35 gyrostabiliser unit, to assist in dampening the vessel’s rolling motion and enabling the boat to skim spilled oil more effectively in rougher sea conditions and higher sea states. In previous applications, the Seakeeper 35 has been recorded as reducing boat rolling motion by up to 75%.
A fuel storage capacity of more than 15,910litres grants the vessel significant range for extended offshore missions, while the fresh water tank holds 6,819litres. The Aptomar oil spill detection system, and a supporting series of infrared oil spill detector cameras, help to ensure effective counter-spill operations throughout the night, or in conditions where visibility is restricted. A MarQuip crane, rated 1.13tonnes SWL, is installed on the deck.
Midship Marine has fitted J.L. O’Brien with a pair of three-brush side-mounted skimmers. Manufactured by Lamor Environmental Solutions, the skimmers grant the boat a daily recovery capacity of 22,885 oil barrels (bbls) (or 3.64 million litres). The boat has been developed with 249bbls (39,588litres) of recovered oil storage capacity.
The boat has a service speed of 24knots and is powered by two Caterpillar C-32 main diesels, each rated 984.3kW at 2,100rpm. These drive ZF propellers through Twin Disc QuickShift marine gears featuring 2.44:1 reduction ratios. A Thrustmaster 16TT60 tunnel thruster has been added to the arrangement, for enhanced manoeuvrability. The vessel features berths for a six-man crew.