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Southampton Operations department conducts fast water river booming exercise

Sunday, September 4, 2016

The Southampton Operations department took part in a fast water river booming exercise at Itchen Valley County park on August 22 and 23.

The aim of the exercise was to deploy the recently received Fast Water Boom from Fort Lauderdale to learn how to use it operationally.

The secondary aim of the exercise was to use the new dedicated Fast Water Boom horse box with its ancillary equipment.

What’s special about the Fast Water Boom?

The boom itself is different from some of OSRL’s other equipment mainly due to its very shallow draft (around 300mm in depth) and solid foam buoyancy.

There is a top tension wire running throughout the boom which allows it to withstand considerable forces compared to other shoreline boom options. These design characteristics are specific to fast water applications and ensure rapid mobilisations in time pressured scenarios.

Having a smaller skirt and therefore less draft than our normal shoreline booms, allows the boom to be deployed in shallower faster waters. The top tension wire that runs throughout the boom also allows it to withstand considerable forces and tensioning techniques required for fast water response options compared to our other shoreline boom options. Straight spurs of boom can be deployed at very low interception angles across the river, minimising undercutting, and ensures the boom deflects oil successfully to the river banks.

What we did during the exercise

Two OSRL teams carried out a practice deployment on the afternoon of August 22 to test the feasibility of the exercise and identify any snags for the next day’s exercises.

The teams were also deployed on August 23 with Mark Keightley leading the charge. An initial three-boom cascade was deployed followed by a secondary double boom spur crossing the entire river.

The challenges of multiple anchor points and running lines where managed well by the team and the tensioning equipment package proved its worth once again, allowing the team to deploy and arrange straight spurs in a four knot current.

On August 24, another two teams carried out the same deployment this time with James Pringle leading the exercise. A three boom cascade was well-positioned and tensioned in a short period of time, ensuring any assets downstream would have been well protected. A double section of boom was included in the formation to practise managing and positioning the new boom in larger and more unwieldy formations.

The new boom was considered a success by everyone who used it. Its durability, easy of deployment and flexibility has given everyone a lot of confidence in using it in tougher environments and on faster rivers.