Byline: Taylor Hill
VENTURA — A re-christening of two 65-foot oil recovery vessels took place May 22 in Ventura Harbor, where the nonprofit group Clean Seas has plans to create a fleet of oil response boats.
Dubbed Ocean Scout and Ocean Guardian, the two advanced-technology vessels built in Anacortes, Wash. are capable of speeds up to 26 knots, and will be solely dedicated to recovery efforts in offshore oil spills.
Established in 1970, Clean Seas was formed by oil companies operating in the Santa Barbara Channel. They developed the group to operate as a first responder to any oil spill in the area.
Since then, Clean Seas has been plying the ocean 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to ensure there is not a repeat of the 1969 Platform 8 incident, where more than 80,000 barrels of crude oil spilled into the ocean, washing up on Santa Barbara beaches.
“We’ve always used large vessels offshore, but now we are replacing the large, old, slow vessels with these new fast response vessels,” said Clean Seas business manager Pat Elliott. “It’s a change in our response platform.”
The new vessels, which were originally christened in Washington, were given a re-christening ceremony May 22 — and Elliott was given the honor of cracking a bottle of champagne on Ocean Guardian’s bow.
“Until these new boats came into the marina, nobody really knew we were here,” Elliott said. “The big boats were always offshore, so we’ve always been here, but now people just know about us.”
The two ships will soon be joined by two more identical oil spill recovery vessels, named Ocean Sentinel and Ocean Defender, creating a fleet of four small, efficient boats.
The new fleet signals a change in Clean Seas’ response efforts, as the new vessels will be capable of arriving at any oil spill scene in the Santa Barbara Channel within 20 minutes.
“They’re more than twice as fast as our old ships — and can recover oil three-to-one in comparison,” Elliott said. “These vessels can pick up the oil, run to our barge, offload the oil and run back to the spill three times in the same amount of time it would take the old boat to just pick up the oil.”
Built and designed by Washington-based Rozema Boatworks, the ships are capable of recovering 3,600 barrels of oil in a 12-hour time period, with a 300-nautical-mile range. Each boat is equipped with a 1,500-foot open ocean boom line for containing spills.
Once the other two ships are delivered, the fleet of four will be deployed strategically, with two vessels stationed at offshore buoys near Point Conception and Santa Barbara, and the two remaining vessels staying in Ventura Harbor.