OCEAN SPRINGS and GULFPORT — The State of Mississippi will have as many as 23 new belt skimmers operating in Mississippi waters by Aug. 1, the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) announced.
The skimmers will be built by Overing Yachts in Ocean Springs and Trinity Yachts in Gulfport. Gov. Haley Barbour directed the construction of these vessels and for the costs to be paid by BP.
Overing Yachts will build from the keel up 10 40-foot belt skimmers and four 30-foot belt skimmers. Trinity Yachts will build nine 30-foot belt skimmers. The first one is scheduled to be available July 5 with all boats finished by Aug. 1.
Local boat captains are being interviewed to be hired, and they will be trained to operate the skimming system. The State of Mississippi will maintain control of the vessels, and they will be operated under the authority of MDEQ.
“Belt skimmers are the best technology available, and they are able to deal with all types and consistencies of oil. In addition, the design of the boats will allow them to be used in deeper waters south of the Barrier Islands all the way to the shallow areas of the bays if necessary. These vessels will be built in Mississippi and piloted by Mississippians who know our waters best,” said Trudy Fisher, MDEQ executive director.