Coast Guard Cutter Maple crew conducts oil spill drill in Sitka Sound

JUNEAU, Alaska – Crewmembers aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Maple deployed the cutter’s Spilled Oil Recovery System equipment in Sitka Sound to conduct training on the ship’s built-in spill recovery gear Wednesday. The SORS deployment was part of a week-long preparedness exercise focused on safely dealing with hazardous materials in the maritime environment. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Mitchell Frick

Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer Mitchell Frick

JUNEAU, Alaska – Crewmembers aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Maple deployed the cutter’s Spilled Oil Recovery System equipment in Sitka Sound to conduct training on the ship’s built-in spill recovery gear Wednesday.

The SORS deployment was part of a week-long preparedness exercise focused on safely dealing with hazardous materials in the maritime environment.

The crew aboard the Maple is trained on hazard recognition, response, containment, removal and decontamination procedures.  Many of these skills and equipment were used by ships like the Maple during last summer’s oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

“The SORS equipment is absolutely vital to our ability to respond to a maritime spill and the crew needs to be ready to deploy this equipment on short notice—this training makes that possible,” said Lt. Cmdr. Dan Gray, commanding officer of the Maple.

Coast Guard cutters like the Maple carry this equipment in case of a major marine oil spill.  This additional equipment was developed and added in response to the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989.

The SORS equipment is a vital asset to the Coast Guard’s marine environmental protection mission and includes booms to sweep oil into a skimmer which can move 440 gallons of oil per minute into oily water separators. When the oil is filtered or separated from seawater it is then pumped into several bladders with an overall capacity of 75,000 gallons.

The Maple and other ships in the same class are multi-mission and required to keep this equipment on board in the event of a marine hazardous material spill.

Commissioned on Oct. 19 2001, the Maple is a 225-foot Juniper-Class buoy tender homeported in Sitka. The Maple is operated by seven officers and a crew of 46 men and women.

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