The United states Coast Guard through the efforts of Lockheed Missiles & Space. ComplarJ1L Inc., Sunnyvale, California, has developed and tested a device for recovering spilled oil from the high seas.

This paper discusses the qualification, testing of the Lockheed prototype High Seas Oil Recovery System. These tests were:

  • an inland pool test using oil

  • a high seas test in an operational environment (Sea State 4)

  • a high seas test in a survival environment (Sea State 6)

The tests proved the system capable of being transported in an HC-130B Coast Guard aircraft, buoy tender and by truck over the road. The system (one unit) also proved to be capable of recovering oil up to the rate of 1000 gpm under certain conditions of current, oil thickness and viscosity.

The system proved that it will be capable of surviving a severe sea state condition after certain minor redesign.


The United States Coast Guard developed through the efforts of Lockheed Missals & Space Company, Inc., Sunnyvale, California, a prototype High Seas Oil Recovery System unit based on Lockheed-patented rotating disc-drum principle. The unit is capable of recovering up to 1000 gpm oil under certain conditions of thickness of oil, relative current and oil viscosity.

A considerable amount of information has been presented on the Lockheed-developed High Seas Oil Recovery System. Much of the prototype design and actual structure of the system is well known within the industry through prior publications in scientific and trade journals. In 1972 and 1973, Coast Guard authors Commanders Lehr and Leigh, and Lockheed author Bruch, presented technical papers which amply described the disc-drum principle. However, a brief description of the rough water oil recovery machine is in order at this point. The 14,750-1b machine is 27-ft wide and 23-ft long. It is 8-ft high, draws 20-in water, and with the main deck safety rails, presents an excellent radar and visual target. The 4-ft digester disc-drum oil recovery device is 13-ft long. It is suspended between twin machinery hulls, port and starboard (PiS), that are connected by the rigid cross structure over the disc-drum. The diesel prime mover and starting air bottle are in the cross structure.

The oil recovery rate is dependent upon the rotating discs which are preferentially wet by the oil which is then collected from the discs by wipers. Wipers direct the oil onto an axially aligned trough through which it flows into the PIS hull sumps. From the sumps the oil is pumped through 300-ft of la-in diameter, lightweight transfer hose to a manifold on the tender. It goes to available storage from the manifold. Alternately, the manifold can be attached to the unit and two 6-in hoses used to transfer the oil directly to available storage. The unit is designed for remote control through a 300-ft long umbilical that also serves as a refueling hose for the on-board diesel prime mover.

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