USA — Military Support to Mitigate Oil Spill Continues

WASHINGTON, July 15, 2010 — Mil­i­tary efforts along the Gulf Coast con­tin­ue today as part of the fed­er­al response force to clean up the oil spill.

About 1,900 Defense Depart­ment and asso­ci­at­ed per­son­nel are deployed to the Gulf. They are pro­vid­ing ongo­ing sup­port to con­tain the leak and clean up the spill, includ­ing mil­i­tary-owned skim­mers and pol­lu­tion con­trol equip­ment, Pen­ta­gon spokesman Army Lt. Col. Robert L. Ditchey II said today.

The mil­i­tary also is pro­vid­ing fund­ing for Nation­al Guard sup­port to state gov­er­nors in the region, as well as stag­ing areas for boom and logis­ti­cal coor­di­na­tion along the coast and at sea, Ditchey said.

The Coast Guard has been lead­ing the fed­er­al response there since April when the Deep­wa­ter Hori­zon oil rig explod­ed. The explo­sion result­ed in hun­dreds of mil­lions of gal­lons of oil gush­ing from the sea floor.

“We have been work­ing togeth­er close­ly with the U.S. Coast Guard from the begin­ning,” Ditchey said. “We are com­mit­ted to sup­port­ing the response effort for as long as we are need­ed.”

The Navy, he said, has 19 skim­mers and 29 tow boats in the Gulf to help soak up the oil. The Naval Sea Sys­tems Com­mand has over­sight over those ves­sels and equip­ment. The com­mand expects addi­tion­al assets in the region in the com­ing weeks, Ditchey said.

The Naval Oceano­graph­ic Office has deployed 24 drift­ing buoys and 10 pro­fil­ing floats to mon­i­tor waft­ing oil, he said. The buoys process data for ocean fore­cast mod­els, he added, which are con­duct­ed dai­ly.

Navy air­craft are con­duct­ing recon­nais­sance to detect oil that can be skimmed, Ditchey said. The air­craft alert suit­able ves­sels to those sites for skim­ming, he added.

Mean­while, Nation­al Guard troops are sup­port­ing local, state and fed­er­al author­i­ties with avi­a­tion trans­porta­tion, recon­nais­sance, secu­ri­ty, haz­ardous mate­ri­als train­ing and oth­er assets, he said. The Guard has 15 ded­i­cat­ed heli­copters for trans­porta­tion and recon­nais­sance mis­sions, he added.

Nation­al Guards­men are also assist­ing BP to take claims from Gulf res­i­dents affect­ed by the spill, Ditchey said.

In May, the Defense Depart­ment trans­port­ed 150,000 feet of BP boom and 250 short tons of Navy pol­lu­tion con­trol and sal­vage equip­ment from Alas­ka to Louisiana, he not­ed.

The Air Force’s 910th Air Wing out of Youngstown, Ohio, flew numer­ous sor­ties for about a month through May, Ditchey said, spray­ing dis­pers­ing agents to neu­tral­ize the oil. The air wing rede­ployed last month, and was back­filled by a civil­ian air­craft com­pa­ny, he said.

Source:
U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)