The metal discs, covered with a fuzzy, oleophilic material, will efficiently pick up oil before it
is squeegeed into temporary holding tanks.
“We believe they are the biggest disc skim-
mers in the world,” says Alyeska’s Valdez
Communications Manager Kate Dugan.
“Our current skimming system is about 20
percent efficient... With Crucial skimmers,
they really pick up two or three times that
amount of oil. So they double, if not triple,
Barges began arriving in Alaska this year
as Louisiana-based ECO prepares to take
over the Alyeska contract previously held
by Crowley Marine. The change of guard for
the Sound started in late 2013 when Alyeska
Pipeline Service Company, owned by Alas-
ka’s major oil producers, determined to look
at various partnership opportunities as the
sun started to set on the Crowley contract.
“ECO just has the best package in terms of
a brand new fleet, all their modern technology. They had the best safety record of any of
the bidders. It just made sense for us to make
the change,” Dugan says.
Dugan describes the realization that they
would be designing purpose-built barges
(their current fleet is retrofitted) as getting
hold of a pie-in-the-sky moment.
“We got to start from scratch with twen-
ty years of experience, of lessons learned,
of people doing this work,” she says. “The
people that are working on it have decades of
experience with SERVS [ship escort/response
vessel system] in Prince William Sound.”
Another improvement to the fleet comes
in the form of the escort tugs, which are see-
ing a 20 percent increase in horsepower. This
extra power will allow them to better con-
trol tankers—slowing them down, stopping
them, and guiding them away from danger.
Additionally, two of the escort tugs will be
equipped with dispersant systems.
“Escort tugs are a key part of oil spill prevention. We can have all the response equipment in the world, but we never want to never have to use it. We want to prevent an oil
spill,” says Dugan.
All of the new ships will come with state-of-the-art oil detection equipment, including forward-looking infrared cameras and oil radars.
“We are just so excited to bring this technology to Princes William Sound... It’s our backyard
Lingering oil found
by trained sniffer dog
on a beach along the
Prince William Sound
in May 2016.
Oil Spill Recovery