By ZACHARY VERFAILLIE
As an Emergency Management major at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, I was excited for the opportunity to work in Valdez as an intern with the council. The project I was given involved using the Fishing Vessel Availability reports from Alyeska’s Ship Escort/Response Vessel System, known as SERVS, to determine which vessels were available to respond in the unfortunate event of an oil spill in Prince William Sound.
With the help of council staffers Roy Robertson and Jeremy Robida, we classified the vessels by type as well as how they could be most efficiently used. This process involved using the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s database to find out specific information on the boats such as size, horsepower, and fuel capacity. Different tactics required different capabilities of the boat. For example, towing boom in open water would require a larger boat with better sea keeping abilities.
Most oil spill scenarios are interested in events until 72 hours after a spill. However, we based our analysis on the numbers of required boats by starting with SERVS’ number of boats needed in the first 73 hours because vessels that would need to start working at 73 hours after a spill would need to be underway prior to hour 72.
After comparing the number of boats required against the number of boats available, we found several suggestions that could possibly strengthen the emergency operation plans dealing with a worst case scenario oil spill. For example, we found that an increase in the number of tenders and landing craft could make for a more efficient recovery. Landing craft are unique in that they can easy land on beaches, providing a faster response time. The large size of tenders makes them particularly useful as supply vessels.
In addition to this project, I had several opportunities to learn about the work the council does through my attendance at monthly meetings with SERVS and a council board meeting in Anchorage. I gained a lot of experience about the way emergency management is used in real life. This internship was a great experience for me and everything I learned will continue to be beneficial in my future with emergency management.