Military Support Continues on Gulf Coast
By Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael J. Carden
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May 7, 2010 Military support continues today as part of an interagency response force that’s working to clean up an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
The Air Force flew six aerial spray operation sorties yesterday with C-130 Hercules aircraft to help in neutralizing the oil spill with dispersing agents. Ten more sorties are scheduled in the coming days, Pentagon spokesman Army Lt. Col. Robert Ditchey said today.
The two C-130 crews are assigned to the 910th Airlift Wing’s 757th Airlift Squadron based at Youngstown Air Reserve Station, Ohio. They are deployed to and operating out of Stennis International Airport, Miss.
Meanwhile, the Navy is sustaining logistical support, equipment and assistance in skimming and salvage operations. The Navy has provided 66,000 feet of inflatable oil boom with mooring equipment, 16 rapid deployment skimmer systems and 44 contractors to assist in the efforts.
The Naval Construction Battalion Center in Gulfport, Miss., has received the Navy equipment at the Mississippi State Dock. The equipment will be deployed as necessary. On-scene coordinators in support of the Department of Homeland Security and the Coast Guard are coordinating this effort, Ditchey said.
Also, Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla., is acting as a staging facility for BP contractor-provided equipment, such as containment booms, recovery barges, tractor-trailer trucks, pumps and other equipment, he added.
BP lowered a pollution-containment dome about 500 feet above the sea floor last night. The next step will be to connect the cofferdam to a ship on the surface to salvage the spilled oil. May 9 is the earliest Pentagon officials expect the dome to be operational, Ditchey said.
The governors of Mississippi, Louisiana, Florida and Alabama have declared states of emergency. More than 1,000 National Guard soldiers and Air National Guard personnel have been called to action along the Gulf Coast.