Eight state operated skimmers now on the water - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Eight state operated skimmers now on the water


By Krystal Allan – bio | email

HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Skimmers, under the state's control, could be fighting oil in Mississippi waters as soon as Tuesday.  Eight skimmers the state has leased are now on the coast.  The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality is overseeing the management of the skimmers.

Weather delayed the boats getting on the water Monday, so crews spent the day training and testing out the skimmers.  The eight skimmers are just the beginning of the boats set to roll-out on the water this week.

"We also have the Overing Skimmers which will start to be delivered this week.  We will have about three a week delivered," said Trudy Fisher with the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality.

The state has hired Overing Yachts and Trinity Yachts to make an additional 19 skimmers, in all there will soon be 27 on the water.

The skimmers will be docked at Point Cadet in Biloxi, Henderson Point in Harrison County, and Bayou Caddy in Hancock County.  As more arrive, they'll also be docked farther east in Pascagoula.

"We have Mississippi captains who will be operating the skimmers with crews on board," Fisher said.

For Scott Simpson, a charter boat captain out of Long Beach, being hired to man a skimmer means a steady check now that his charter boat business is side-lined.

"I'm glad to be out working right now and helping with the clean-up effort, especially with these new skimmer boats," Simpson said.

The captains are trained for about one to two days on the skimmers.  The fleet of eight leased skimmers consists of 22 and 30 foot boats.  The skimmers took a Trans-Atlantic journey in getting to the coast, as they were manufactured in France.

The state controlled fleets will work in conjunction with skimmers overseen by the U.S. Coast Guard to ramp up efforts in fighting the oil before it reaches the shores of the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

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