VESSELS OF OPPORTUNITY
As of January 2021, the Alaska Chadux Network has retainers with 49 Vessels of Opportunity (VOOs) in numerous Alaskan port cities, including Kodiak, King Cove, Dutch Harbor, Valdez, Nome, Seward, Homer, Whittier, and Cordova.
Each year, ACN conducts VOO training and exercises to ensure vessel crews are familiar with ACN response equipment, recovery tactics, and safety requirements.
ACN tracks the status of program vessels and provides appropriate safety and operational training for vessel owners and their crew. By establishing agreements with vessel owners prior to incidents, ACN can ensure timely and effective response capabilities compliant with state and federal regulations.
- Provide reliable and timely access to response vessels
- Ensure contract vessel crews are trained in the use of ACN equipment and tactics
- Ensure risks and liabilities to ACN, vessel owners, and RPs are minimized
- Support ACN on-water operational requirements during incidents, exercises, and drills
- Promote safe, effective, cost-effective, and regulatory compliant response activities using trained vessel operators
- Quantify ACN on-water response capabilities, allowing them to be referenced to meet ACN member planning standards
Vessel Response Tactics
ACN personnel deploy and operate all response equipment; vessel operators and crew serve vessel operation duties only, unless they have received appropriate training.
ACN uses Vessels of Opportunity for the following tactics:
- Containment booming, diversion booming, and exclusion booming: vessels may be used to deploy, anchor, and maintain boom. Boom operations will be conducted by smaller vessels or vessels with limited deck space. Skiffs may be deployed from larger vessels to set boom in shallow waters or close quarter areas.
- On water-free oil recovery/ marine recovery: tactics may involve U or J booming, ACN’s boom arm system (VOSS package), or an Ocean or Harbor Buster to concentrate oil for recovery. Each vessel of opportunity can carry and deploy a single recovery system (skimmer, containment boom, and storage) or work with other vessels to concentrate spilled oil for recovery. Temporary storage of recovered product will be provided by bladders, tanks, or barges.
- Related activity support: vessels may be used to provide wildlife capture and rehab personnel with a work platform or be used to move supplies and waste products.
Vessels participating in the ACN VOO program undergo a vetting process and are pre-contracted to simplify the mobilization process in the event of an incident. However, vessels in the program are not obligated to respond should ACN require their services. To improve the probability of being able to hire a vessel on short notice, ACN works to maintain a 2-1 redundancy in the number of vessels in each region.
Safe and effective response operations are a primary objective during every incident. ACN strives to create a safe working environment by training vessel operators and crews, pre-inspecting vessels prior to operations and keeping track of vessels during a response through constant communications and AIS. Additionally, ACN relies on the local knowledge of each vessel operator to help ACN response team members determine which operations can be conducted safely each day.
Equipment Transport And Staging
Larger vessels capable of transporting and storing equipment may be used to support response operations. These vessels typically have an extended range and are capable of providing fuel and water to smaller response vessels.
Interested vessel owners can contact admin@alaskaOSRO.org for more information on how to become part of ACN’s Vessel of Opportunity program.
VESSEL TYPES & USES
TYPE I VESSELS
110’ and larger, Type I vessels are usually constructed of steel, have extensive decks and extended ranges. They are capable of supporting a fleet with fuel, water, meals, and accommodations as well as on-scene staging. Typically fitted with cranes with capacities over two tons, these vessels assist with the deployment and retrieval of equipment. They may be inspected and capable of berthing numerous responders. The STAR guide describes these vessels Class I and II.
TYPE II VESSELS
Type II vessels include larger, near-coastal vessels such as longliners, seiners, and crabbers ranging from 48’-110.’ Constructed of steel fiberglass or aluminum, these vessels have deck space to transport and store gear and are capable of deploying large skimming systems with VOSS gear and ocean boom. They may also be used to tow bladders or mini barges. Typically fitted with cranes capable of lifting loads of two tons, these vessels can assist with the deployment and retrieval of equipment. Type II vessels generally have overnight accommodations for the navigational crew plus 4-6 responders, would be suitable as command vessels, and may offer limited support to a fleet. Type III vessels have deeper drafts and are capable of longer voyages. The STAR Guide describes these vessels as Class II, III and VII.
TYPE III VESSELS
Small fishing vessels including seiners and gillnetters as well as passenger charter vessels ranging from 28’- 48.’ These are shallow draft, nearshore vessels generally constructed of fiberglass or aluminum. Limited accommodations and deck space generally constrain these vessels to day use. Type III vessels are utilized for towing and setting boom, deploying small skimmers with VOSS gear and towing bladders. They may also be used for observers and command staff. Type III vessels would generally be limited to voyages under 200 miles. The Star guide describes these vessels as Class IV and VII vessels.
TYPE IV VESSELS
Open, outboard-powered work skiffs under 28.’ Constructed of hypalon (inflatable), fiberglass, or aluminum, these vessels are suitable for use in protected waters while supported by larger vessels. They are suitable for deploying calm water boom, scouting, SCAT support, or wildlife hazing. The Star guide classifies these vessels as Class V and VI.