UPDATE - Video from CNN here - make me a little more optimistic
UPDATE 2 -FAQ Has the Unified Command considered using supertankers to help clean up the oil spill in the Gulf?
When I first saw a photo of the vessel "A Whale" (Massive oil-skimming ship makes stop in Norfolk) it seemed so unlikely that I though someone had photo-shopped the slots in the side. But is is for real, so here are some questions/thoughts:
In order for it to work at all, the slots must be kept at the proper depth. The ship's draft will have to be controlled carefully. As the ship fills with oil, ballast would presumably be discharged to maintain the proper draft.
The sea state will change the relationship between the depth of the slots and the surface. Swell will cause the ship to pitch and roll which will constantly change the depth of the slots.
From the article:
A Whale could handle 500,000 barrels of oily water a day, or slightly less than what all the skimmers now in the Gulf have gathered in more than 60 days on the job, Su said.
A skimmers effectiveness cannot be measured only by bbl of oily water/day. The area skimmed is important, this design seems very limited in that regard. Perhaps it could be fitted with booms to increase the area swept.
From the article again:
Because the vessel is Taiwanese and was built in South Korea, it needs an exemption from the Jones Act, a federal law requiring commercial ships doing business in U.S. coastal waters to be American-flagged
I think this is a red herring issue, already discussed to death below.
"Bureaucracy shouldn't stand in the way of cleaning up our coastline," Overton said. "
This is another way of saying we want BP to cut us a big check and we don't want to have to answer a lot of questions.
Overton said. "We need help. So I encourage them to just go down there and not take no for an answer. I mean, seriously, how can it hurt?"
It can hurt by consuming resources ineffectively and by displacing more effective methods.
My recommendation to BP is put them to work, but pay them by barrels of oil recovered, not by the day.