After a lengthy trial period in the Gulf of Mexico, a Taiwanese-owned giant skimming vessel known as “A Whale” was dubbed a bust, a federal official announced Friday.
"While its stature is impressive, 'A Whale' is not ideally suited to the needs of this response," Coast Guard Rear Admiral Paul Zunkunft, a federal on-scene coordinator, said in a statement late Friday.
Measuring an impressive 1,110 feet, the tanker was brought to the Gulf in early July. Officials hoped it would meet is potential of collecting as many as 500,000 barrels of contaminated water per day and make a dent in the 184.3 million gallons of crude oil that have already leaked from BP’s broken oil well.
However after weeks of tests, “A Whale” collected only negligible amounts of oil, leading to the conclusion that smaller skimming vessels are better suited for the Gulf spill.
"It may need a different type of oil spill, where you have thick, heavy oil that is concentrated in order to be effective," Zunkunft said of the giant skimmer’s capabilities.
The official site monitoring the Deepwater Horizon response says that more than 6,800 vessels ranging from recovery vessels to barges are currently operating in the Gulf. So far almost 33 million gallons of mixed oil and water mix have been recovered, and 387 controlled burns have been conducted to remove a further 11 million gallons of oil from open waters.
Reuters contributed to this report.