MARCO 'Modularizes' U.S. Navy Oil-Spill Skimmers For Easy Transport By Aircraft And Truck

Half of a 24-boat "fleet" of oil-spill skimmers for the U.S. Navy previously built by Marine Construction and Design Co.

(MARCO), 2300 West Commodore Way, Seattle, Wash. 98199, are being "modularized" so they can be transported by aircraft.

The work is being done under a $1.8- million modification contract awarded to the company by the Naval Sea Systems Command.

Rather than purchase additional skimmers to complete stationing with fleets and facilities around the world, the Navy instead worked with MARCO on the idea of cutting 12 of the 36-foot skimmers into four modules that could be air transported and then reassembled at a spill site.

The Navy skimmers, based on the MARCO "Class V" design, recover spilled oil in the open ocean as well as in harbors and bays.

Oil is recovered by a conveyorized "Filterbelt" material that collects oil from the surface but allows water to flow through.

Completion of the refitting is scheduled for April 1979. Vessels are being delivered on schedule as completed to Navy facilities in Oakland, Calif., and Portsmouth, Va. The skimmers were constructed at the MARCO shipyard in Seattle during 1976-77.

The modification contract brings the total contracts for the skimmers, including spares and repair kits, to about $6 million, reported Robert F. Allen, vice president of MARCO and general manager of the company's pollution control division.

Sectionalizing 12 of the skimmers into four modules permits loading into more types of aircraft (C-130A and C-141, for instance) as well as for highway transport on a pair of standard flatbed trailers without need for wide load permit. Skimmer hulls were cut into three lengthwise modules.

Mechanical systems were positioned entirely within the center section, and two outboard sections were reconstructed as sealed units for attachment to the main hull module. The fourth module is the top portion of the vessel's pilothouse.

Additional equipment—such as cargo davits, radio mounts, additional non-skid deck grating, and recessed boarding ladders—is being installed on all 24 skimmers. Many of these changes resulted from experience at actual oil spills with these vessels and similar MARCO skimmers operated by private industry, Mr. Allen noted.

The Class V skimmer is a monohull vessel that has a fork-like skimming end in which the company's "Filterbelt" oil-recovery system conveyor is lowered to collect surface oil and debris. The craft's scow-like bow permits towing to a spill at 12 knots or more.

On the scene, the skimmer uses a 360-degree rotatable thruster for propulsion and steering.

It recovers up to 300 gallons per minute of heavy oils.

Other stories from September 1978 issue


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