The U.S. Coast Guard has developed capabilities to respond to marine oil spills. These capabilities include both physical and human resources. This paper focuses on the--Characteristics, various equipment, and on the makeup of the National Strike Force. The physical resources include such systems as ADAPTS, (Air Deliverable Anti Pollution Tarsier system), -High Seas Barrier, High Seas Recovery and Airborne Remote Sensing; the human resources of the National Strike Force include three Regional Strike Teams capable of responding to oil pollution incidents as they occur. This paper focuses on Coast Guard pollution control systems in inventory or near fruition.


Increasing public consciousness of marine oil pollution spread worldwide in the wake of the "Torrey Canyon" accident off the Cornwall coast in 1967. This tanker grounding spilled 700,000 barrels of crude, but was only a culminating incident of many as described by Kash, White and others; Porricelli, Keith and Storch; and Lehr (1, 2, 3). These incidents served to focus worldwide concern on minimization of water pollution and elimination of "externalities," or costs of energy production absorbed by the environment and society. Bounding was one of the first to point out the increasing consciousness of a "spaceship earth," wherein not only would "externalities" be disallowed, but concern would focus wherever petroleum was coupled to the wrong ecosystem, to correct a "resource out of place" (4,5, 6).

The U.S. Coast Guard has long been concerned with the protection of life, property and commerce in the marine environment, and with the prevention of oil pollution in the seas. As ecological concern mounted worldwide, added responsibilities came to the Coast Guard to protect the marine environment from the potential "externalities" of commerce. These responsibilities have as their "principal charter" the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (FWPCA), as amended in? October, 1972. They are generally grouped into "three constituent, closely related parts; prevention, response and enforcement," as described by Captain S. A. Wallace, Chief of the Coast Guard's Marine Environmental Protection Division (7).

The purpose of this paper is to provide information on physical and human resources available for Coast Guard response to an oil spill. This paper will not discuss important alternative solutions to the spill problem, i.e., prevention of the spill from occurring through various measures including internal "ship containment" and external "traffic control" systems. Nor will this paper focus on the considerable efforts of industry and regional and local cooperatives to either greatly reduce the possibility of a spill, or once one has occurred, to respond effectively (8).

Research on oil spills dates back to the 1920's. By 1960, considerable information existed, and by 1968, the Coast Guard had begun extensive research and development in the area, as reported by Lehr (3). Now, the Coast Guard has assembled oil pollution control systems comprising both physical and human resources capable of response to oil spill scenarios.

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