I just got back from 3 days on the Gulf. It was my first oil action, and I didn't quite realize how awful it was going to be.
Memorial day weekend for me was supposed to be real light, and easy. Saturday I went in to work at 5:30 and they let us go around 7:30. Sunday was the same story; Monday started off the same, so we all decided to head down to Biloxi and gamble at 8 in the morning. We roamed around the casino for a little bit, I finally decided to play some texas hold em, about 5 hands into the game my capt. came over and informed me we had been deployed and need to leave( I thought we was saying this because I just won a big hand) Needless to say, we got a call and all they said was report to the boats in one hour. So we raced back to our hotel and threw 2 days worth of close in bag. Once at the boats, we were informed a patch of oil had been spotted off Dauphin Island, and away we went. It took us about 2 hours to get there, by this time it was about 2 in the afternoon.
My first glimpse of oil, it was just little, red rust chunks floating in the water. We put on our tyvek suits, which lasted all about 2 minutes before they rip in the grotch or butt. I mean, mine ripped just from putting on socks this morning, (some of you might be thinking "Hey dummy get a bigger suit," well this was a XXL suit! I didnt get it either.) Anyway, back to the oil. We got under way and the shrimp boats began corraling concentrated areas of the clumps towards out skimmer. These chunks would band together as they got funneled closer to our boats. When it comes on board our skimmer squeezes it to get the water to come out, making the oil look like fudge as it rolls off the belt into the holding tank. It kinda looks like fudge, but sometimes it has a browner color and begins to look like peanut butter. It is super sticky once you get in yourselves hard to get off. I have to use Gojo or dawn soap.(gojo works better) It began to get to dark to see, so we set off to find a place for the shrimp boats to anchor. Once we found a place we came aboard a shrimp boat and spent the night. Though, they were not prepared for us to spend the night becuase we were originally supposed to be staying on that lift barge I told yall about earlier. But they were being complete morons and wouldnt let us on board. Don't ask me why. So the first night on the shrimp boat they didnt have enough beds because we had a Safety officer, Bp Rep, 2 shrimp decks, the capt. and his wife and 3 of us. So the capt. gave me his bed, and his wife gave hers to another, my other co worker slept on a sofa in the galley. (the capt. slept in the wheel house, his wife on another sofa in the galley)
The next night the safety rep, and Bp man were gone, so I got one of there beds. Just a mattress and a pillow, no blanket, it wasnt bad. The next day, we woke up to a broken boom and storms off in the distance; so we got out in my notorious zodiac and putted along to fix the boom. The storms built up and stopped our work for about an hour. Once we got it fixed we went out in search of oil. Around 4, we got a ride back from a transportation barge back to Pascagoula to have a nights rest and figure out the living situation at sea.
I am sorry I flew through this blog I am extremely tired I just got back in from all this. One last thing, we have helicopters who fly above us to find the oil. Those helicopters to videos of us skimming and that video made it up to BP's board. My supervisor claims when they saw it that they all stood and applauded, and were amazed at what a good job we were doing. We estimated somewhere between 1500 and 3000 gallons.