Guest post: Spill responders practice for perfection

>As responders know all too well, a successful oil spill cleanup requires a true coordinated effort by multiple agencies. Today’s post by Public Affairs Specialist Third Class George Degener, of the Ninth District Public Affairs staff, touches on the highlights from a full-scale international exercise held in Toledo June 10, 2009. PA3 Degener served as a member of the Joint Information Center for the exercise.

“Agencies taking part in the preparation exercise included the U.S. Coast Guard Ninth District, U.S. Coast Guard Atlantic Area and Gulf Strike Teams, Canadian Coast Guard, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, State of Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and Ottawa County officials.

(Right: Members of the Coast Guard’s Strike Team instruct exercise participants in proper deployment techniqes for the Vessel of Opportunity Skimming System prior to testing them in their abilities to successfully use the equipment for oil spill cleanup efforts.)

The drill was designed to test the response and inter-operability of the participants in the event of a major oil spill in Western Lake Erie. The highlight of this exercise was the successful deployment of the Coast guard’s Vessel of Opportunity Skimming System (VOSS) from the U.S. EPA’s vessel, The Lake Guardian.

The VOSS system is designed to contain and remove oil from an effected area. This deployment of VOSS was the first time that the system had been successfully deployed from a non-Coast Guard vessel and it was a complete success.

(Left: The crew of the U.S. EPA vessel, The Lake Guardian, carefully deploy the VOSS during a full scale preparation exercise in Toledo, Ohio June 10, 2009.)

‘The cooperation of the EPA crew combined with the expertise of the Strike Team members was really what made this exercise a success,’ said Chief Petty Officer Mike Dugas, an Operations Specialist from the Ninth District Command Center, ‘They were able to set everything up correctly on the Guardian and deploy it successfully.’

(Right: The Lake Guardian employs the Coast Guard’s Vessel of Opportunity Skimming System to cleanup a simulated oil spill during a preparation exercise in western Lake Erie June 10, 2009.)

This preparation exercise showcased the ability of the Coast Guard and other agencies to work together within the Incident Command System and under a Unified Command to accomplish a mission through teamwork and cooperation. The timely and effective response of the involved was a great example of their excellent working relationships.”

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