“Mothball Fleet” helps with disaster response training, fuel conservation

11th Coast Guard District NewsALAMEDA, Calif. — The Novato-based Coast Guard Pacific Strike Team, a national-level contingency response organization, lead fuel-transfer operations at the Suisun Bay Reserve Fleet in Benicia, Calif., Wednesday as part of fuel conservation efforts and hands-on training for disaster response.

Thirty-two members of the team worked all week starting Feb. 6 and wrapped up Friday to prep, set-up and deploy equipment aboard the decommissioned Navy class fleet oiler Kawishiwi. As part of helping the Maritime Administration with recyling fuel, the strike team’s goal was to lighter approximately 30,000 gallons of fuel onto a shipyard fuel barge alongside the oiler.

“This operation allows our crew to train in a controlled environment for our all-hazards response; oil spill and HAZMAT response that we specialize in,” said Lt. j.g. Mandy Le Monde, the lightering team’s response officer. “In addition, we’re helping provide a service to MARAD in removing fuel off these mothball vessels so they can re-use them for future operations.

Kawishiwi is one of several decommissioned vessels in the National Defense Reserve Fleet also known as its moniker of the “mothball fleet.” The strike team has successfully lightered several ships in the fleet while using these real scenarios to keep their skills fresh and to increase their hands-on experience.

As one of the three elements of the Coast Guard National Strike Force, the Pacific Strike Team’s military professionalism, logistics and management expertise and extensive training is critical to effective disaster response. They are recognized worldwide as expert authorities in preparing for, and responding to disasters resulting from oil emissions, hazardous substance discharges, weapons of mass destruction events, and many other contingencies.

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