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Jul 16, 2010 6:58 PM by Melissa Canone

Vessels of Oppotunity

Today, the Louisiana Unified Command announced new guidelines to enhance the Vessels of Opportunity (VoO) program, which employs boat owners and their crews to help in the response across the Gulf. The new guidelines will ensure that more local residents on local, commercial vessels are able to participate in the program and benefit through their efforts to help respond to the oil spill. Louisiana Unified Command announced the changes to address concerns voiced by commercial fisherman and communities across the coast of Louisiana.

"The new Vessel of Opportunity program guidelines will allow Gulf Coast Residents to participate in the nation's largest oil spill response effort," said Captain Roger Laferriere. "By setting up a rotation of vessels and crews, it allows more residents to get back to work and will improve our cleanup efforts by ensuring residents with local knowledge are involved in the fight."

"Unified Command is committed to using the commercial fishing vessels and crews of the Gulf Coast to respond to this spill and minimize the impact on the people, the environment, and the fishing industry," said Judith Paul, VoO Program Director. "These changes take critical steps to make the program operate more smoothly and continue to make a significant contribution to the response."

Under the updated protocols, crews will embark on 14-day, 30-day and long term charters, depending on the size and capabilities of each vessel:

· 14 day crews will recover sheen and light oil, transport oily waste, clean up in shallow water, transport critical supplies and personnel, conduct surveillance, and maintain boom across the Gulf.

· 30 day crews will transport wildlife rescue vessels and deploy boom across the Gulf.

· Offshore skimming vessels and vessels larger than 65-feet will continue work under long-term charters because their crews are trained, activity-specific equipment has already been installed to make them capable of skimming oil or conducting controlled burns.

· Some vessels will also carry media to observe the largest response to an oil spill in this nation's history.

The VoO program hires vessels of all sizes, with a priority placed on local, commercial vessels that make their living on the sea. Compensation depends on the size of the vessel and ranges from $1,200-$3,000 per day. Crew members are paid $200 per eight-hour shift.

To date, more than 900 vessels in the VoO program are working in Louisiana waters to perform a variety of important tasks, including deploying and monitoring containment boom, transporting equipment and personnel and surface and subsurface surveillance.

Vessel owners interested in the VoO program should call the VoO Hotline at (866) 279-7983 or visit www.deepwaterhorizonresponse.com.

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