US Navy performs skimming to fight oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico

By Phaedra Friend Troy

The United States Navy has been performing skimming and salvage operations in the US Gulf of Mexico in an effort to combat the spread of the oil spill.

The US Navy has deployed 16 modular skimming systems to the Gulf Coast to help stop the spread of oil on the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Because oil and water naturally separate, the skimmers are able to remove the floating oil from the water’s surface.

Additionally 1,400 Department of Defense personnel have been deployed to support the oil spill clean-up efforts.

The April 20 fire and explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon semisubmersible drilling rig was immediately followed with emergency response from the US Coast Guard, BP and Transocean. Eleven men are still missing and presumed dead.

The semisub then sunk to the ocean floor 5,000 feet below, and oil began spilling from the Macondo well. Estimates are that 5,000 barrels of oil a day are escaping the well, and the oil spill response team has been trying to stop the spill in an above the water and subsea strategy.

Currently, BP is drilling a relief well. Additionally, a subsea oil containment dome is being developed to redirect the oil-water mixture to a nearby drilling rig that can then process the petroleum. Also, ROVs continue to work subsea to try to active the Blowout Preventer (BOP). 

Above the surface, thousands of feet of boom have been deployed to protect the shoreline. Controlled burns have been conducted on the water’s surface, and dispersants have been deployed. Additionally, the Navy has been using skimmers to clean the water.

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