Attempting to speed up the oil spill clean up in the Gulf, BP has just tapped the world’s largest oil skimming vessel. This converted Taiwanese cargo ship known as “A Whale” was put through her paces during a trial run this past weekend in a 25 square mile area north of the ruptured well. Capable of skimming roughly 21 million gallons of oil each day, it’s nearly 250 times more efficient than many of the 550 converted fishing boats and other vessels presently being employed as skimmers. The results of this weekend’s tests are expected later today, and if all went according to plan, A Whale will become a central part of BP’s $3 billion cleanup operation.

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The skimming technique employed by the A Whale involves a series of vents situated on the vessel’s hull. These vents allow surface water to be taken into the interior of the ship as it cruises. As the oily mixture is taken into the ship, a decanting process begins which collects the oil content found in the water. The remaining seawater is then released back into the gulf and the cycle continues.

The A Whale will hopefully move along the oil recovery process in the Gulf and buy BP a bit of extra time to find a solution to the 76-day-old problem.


+ USA Today