Posted on behalf of Admiral Bob Papp:
I just returned from my third trip to the Gulf Coast. The focus of this trip was on hurricane preparations and the expanding number of Coast Guard forces deployed to maintain the ongoing Deepwater Horizon response.
I spent Tuesday at the Unified Area Command in New Orleans. I am impressed by the effective and coordinated response efforts. These efforts stretch across the coastlines of four states and encompass a water area the size of South Carolina. Significant hurricane planning is also underway. While I was the Atlantic Area commander between 2008 and 2010, I had 30 named storms move through my area of responsibility, many of those in the Gulf of Mexico. As a result, making sure we are ready for a hurricane is one of my top priorities. I concluded the day with my first Chief’s Call and recognition for some of our stellar junior personnel that have been mentored by the chiefs.
Yesterday, I focused on our forces. I visited five buoy tenders at Naval Air Station Pensacola: Aspen, Cypress, Juniper, Walnut and Joshua Appleby . These ships, hailing from as far away as Honolulu, San Francisco and Newport, reflect our “all-hands-on-deck” commitment to this response. The decks of these ships, which are normally loaded with buoys, are now filled with oil skimming equipment. These crews’ efforts are making a difference. Shortly after my visit, Cypress and Juniper got underway to rejoin other cutters engaged in skimming operations.
I also overflew the spill site. Since my last over flight in June, I could see that oil collection efforts have intensified and our hard work is beginning to pay off, though we still have many days of hard work ahead. I was particularly encouraged to see a large number of skimmers operating, most of which were “Vessels of Opportunity,” or VOOs. VOOs are commercially and privately owned vessels grouped and organized by the Coast Guard. Using the latest surveillance, VOOs are sent to attack the most prominent and threatening areas of the spill.
During this trip, I had a Fox National News crew traveling with me. You can click here to view a post they uploaded today. I also recorded a message to all Deepwater Horizon responders, which is available here.
I am honored to represent the thousands of Coast Guard men and women doing amazing work to help restore a way of life for the people of the Gulf Coast. Keep up the great work. Take care of your shipmates.
Admiral Bob Papp