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Saturday, July 03, 2010

Foreign-Flagged Vessel Working in the Gulf

The Mighty Servant III

With no help from the Coast Guard or the Administration I was able to find out (from BP) that at least one large foreign-flag vessel is at work cleaning-up oil in the Gulf. The Mighty Servant III (Netherlands-Flagged), a heavy lift ship used for transporting drilling platforms and other large vessels, is currently at sea trying to fill a role as a large OSRV. Typically the Mighty Servant III submerges by filling huge ballast tanks. Obviously, these ballast tanks are being used as cargo holds for an oil/water mix. The ship has no separation capability.

Also, I think it's safe to say that this ship is not one that falls under Jones Act cabotage law and/or it has been provided a special waiver because of its almost one of a kind status. But months before the Deepwater Horizon exploded and sank, the Obama Administration attempted to strengthen the Jones Act by canceling waivers or exemptions and placing this and other specialty oil exploration vessels directly under the thumb of the Jones Act (reported by Maritime Reporter a few months ago). Industry professionals pointed out, however, that the U.S. oil industry had almost no access to U.S.-built vessels of this kind and therefore preventing Foreign-built specialty ships from working U.S. waters would open the door to a potential oil exploration and supply crisis. The Administration promptly back-peddled. They were still reviewing the issue when the Deepwater Horizon exploded and sank.


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