Giant, oil-sucking vessel headed to Gulf for spill cleanup duty after Norfolk stop

Friday, June 25, 2010
By Paul Martin

AL.com
Friday, June 25, 2010

NORFOLK, Va. — A tanker dubbed the “A Whale” and billed as the world’s largest oil skimming vessel was to set sail today to the Gulf of Mexico after a brief stop at the Port of Hampton Roads.

But there no guarantee it will be allowed to assist in oil-cleanup efforts, according to a report in the Daily Press.

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Share Officials with the ship’s owner, Taiwan-based TMT Group, told the Daily Press that the Whale does not yet have government approval to assist in the cleanup or a contract with BP to perform the work.

To operate in the Gulf, the company would need approval from the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Coast Guard and, possibly, a federally granted waiver from a century-old maritime act that restricts foreign-flagged vessels from operating in U.S. waters.

If OK’d to help in the cleanup, however, the 6-month-old, Liberian-flagged A Whale is designed to work 20 to 50 miles offshore where other, smaller skimmers have trouble navigating and ingest oily water into 12, 16-foot-long intake vents on both sides of its bow.

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