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NORFOLK, Va. - With no assurances it will be allowed to join the Gulf oil cleanup, a Taiwanese-owned ship billed as the world's largest skimming vessel was preparing to sail Friday evening to the scene of the Deepwater Horizon disaster.
The ship--the length of 3 1/2 football fields and 10 stories high--is designed to collect up to 500,000 barrels of oily water a day through 12 vents on either side of its bow. It docked in Norfolk en route to the Gulf from Portugal, where it was retrofitted to skim the seas. The ship and its crew of 32 were to leave Virginia waters Friday evening.
The owners of the "A Whale" said the ship features a new skimming approach that has never been attempted on such a large scale. They are anxious to put it to its first test in the Gulf.