A required annual oil spill drill was held near the boathouse behind Hangar 1122 aboard Naval Air Station (NAS) Jacksonville April 25.

The three-day training consisted of one day in the classroom and two days on the water putting into practice the procedures to contain oil in the event of a spill.

“The major function today is to bring the new students and the refresher students and exercise the different drills and steps they have to do to be able to capture, contain and reclaim oil,” said John Hamilton, facility response training instructor.

The two-part training event Wednesday involved 27 people. 

“The first drill today was to do a diversion of oil that spilled off the helicopter flight line and is moving with the tide toward the ocean,” Hamilton said.

Boat crews form the Boathouse Division pulled a 1,000-foot diversion boom into the river to divert the oil to shore where a protection boom was set up to prevent the oil contaminating the shore.

The second part of the training Wednesday simulated a helicopter making a water landing in the river. A containment boom circled the aircraft to keep the oil from spreading downriver. 

Containing the oil in the event a spill in the river is only half of the job. Reclaiming the oil is also necessary to clean the water. 

A Manta Ray Skimmer is deployed and is used to skim oil off the surface of the water. The skimmer is connected to a hose, which vacuums the oil into collection truck.

NAS Jacksonville is required to this training annually by federal law, Hamilton explained.

“This installation has to do this type of training because it is an oil storage facility along the coastal waters because of the Oil Pollution Act of 1990.”

By all accounts, the training drill met all objectives. 

Jim Taylor, NAS Jacksonville facility spill response manager, helped oversee the training event was pleased with the result of the training. “Absolutely it was successful. If we come back and everybody has ten fingers and ten toes and everybody is safe, then it was a successful day.”