On May 8th, 2019, 1-Call Alaska ran an on-water exercise at the Port of Homer, in Cook Inlet, Alaska. The purpose of the exercise was to familiarize our responders, contractors and regulatory personnel with a response in an area with some of the largest tidal ranges in the world. The exercise scenario involved another vessel colliding into a bulk carrier at anchor in Kachemak bay. This caused one of the fuel holds to break and release 9,153 bbls of product into Katchemak Bay.
On the day of the exercise the response team was split into two groups. One of the groups focused on shoreline clean-up, while the other group focused on on-water recovery. The on-water recovery group consisted of the R/V WOLDSTAD, a contracted vessel, which was loaded with our off-shore recovery boom and an Ocean Skater Weir Skimmer. The team first deployed the off-shore recovery boom, which was secured to one side of the vessel and held out with a crane arm, forming a J in the water (J-Sweep configuration). Once the boom was in place, the secondary aft crane was used to deploy the Ocean Skater Weir Skimmer. The skimmer was placed in the apex of the J-Sweep and towed forward, into the direction of the hypothetical oil. This system works very well when encountering thick oil in open water.
While the WOLDSTAD and team recovered oil off-shore, the on-shore team set up shoreline diversion booming, with a drum skimmer, which is very effective at recovering product in protected, shallow, nearshore areas. The in-shore boom was anchored to the shoreline and then stretched seaward at a 45-degree angle into the current. The purpose of the boom is to divert product moving alongshore towards a shoreline area, where it is recovered by the drum skimmer placed at the apex of the boom. Recovered product would then be pumped into shoreside temporary storage for eventual disposal.
Overall the exercise was a huge success. It was well attended by 1-Call Alaska and the USCG, with personnel from Sector Anchorage and District 17. 1-Call Alaska will continue to host these exercises so that we are always prepared for our clients when they need us. For more information about the exercise, or if you are interested in attending an on-water exercise in the future, please email our client services team at firstname.lastname@example.org.