That massive oil skimmer named "A Whale" spent the weekend being tested in the Gulf of Mexico, sucking up oil-tainted water. But it is still questionable whether the new ship will be used to help clean up the huge oil spill.
The testing to show whether the ship is effective in taking in water, separating the oil and releasing the supposed now clean water was inconclusive. Bob Grantham, a spokesman for TMT Shipping Offshore, which owns the vessel, said in a statement Monday:
"After an initial 48-hour testing period, results remain inconclusive in light of the rough sea state we are encountering. Over this same period, very few other skimmers have even been deployed. Therefore, working in close coordination with the US Coast Guard, we will be undertaking an additional testing period to make operational and technological adjustments aimed at improving skimming effectiveness given the actual conditions we are encountering in the Gulf."
A Whale is a 350-foot long, 10-story tall ship that is supposed to be capable of skimming 21 million gallons of oil-tainted water per day. That's 250 times what a standard oil skimmer can take in. But its technology is new and requires testing and possible modifications before it can be put to use.
Some 550 smaller skimming vessels were out in the Gulf on Sunday, according to a spokeswoman for the Unified Command Joint Information Center in Houma, Louisiana. But since A Whale can do the work of 250 of them, it would be annice addition to the force. That is, if it works as advertised.