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Oil-Spotting Blimp Arrives In the Gulf

samzenpus posted more than 4 years ago | from the lazy-eye-in-the-sky dept.

Earth 109

GAMP writes "A Navy blimp to assist oil skimming operations will be arriving to the Gulf Coast Wednesday evening, according to the Unified Command Joint Information Center. 'The airship will operate relatively close to shore, primarily supporting skimmers to maximize their effectiveness,' said US Coast Guard Capt. Kevin Sareault."

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Mmkay (2, Funny)

digitalunity (19107) | more than 4 years ago | (#32834876)

That's nice, but will reporters be allowed on board?

Re:Mmkay (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32834994)

From the article:

The primary purpose of 178-feet long MZ-3A airship will be to spot and monitor for oil contamination along the Gulf Coast.

The point is really not to carry reporters, who could easily get in the way of the oil spotting activities aboard. Besides, it is a blimp, so how could there possibly be anything worth reporting?

Re:Mmkay (1)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | more than 4 years ago | (#32836274)

I'm going to say probably not but simply because it's a blimp so they probably launched it when the spill happened and it's just getting there now lol. They wouldn't have the food and other supplies necessary to carry a reporter. I'm glad to see they're dedicated to using the latest and greatest in modern technology to help clean up the oil spill though.

Re:Mmkay (1)

caerwyn (38056) | more than 4 years ago | (#32838680)

You've got some fairly simplistic views of airships. While they're not exactly *fast*, they're not as slow as you seem to be indicating. They're also phenomenally efficient for this sort of task. In spotting and monitoring activities the speed of a plane is actually a detriment.

Airships are still under quite active development. There are a lot of tasks for which "go really fast" is not a requirement, and "stay in the air a long time without consuming more fuel than the oil spill" *is*.

Re:Mmkay (2, Interesting)

Vintermann (400722) | more than 4 years ago | (#32839280)

For sensor equipment, a stable platform is also usually an advantage. Airships are exceptionally stable.

The Zeppelin company had an airship in South Africa a couple of years ago, with sensors to detect gravitational anomalies related to kimberlite pipes - kimberlite is where you find diamonds, of course. Geological survey from an airship, how cool is that?

Fantastic!!!! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32834886)

Obama springs into action!!!!

Re:Fantastic!!!! (5, Insightful)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 4 years ago | (#32834974)

Heh well I suppose you have a point... wouldn't it be nice if we could do a swap? Have Bush handle this disaster and have Obama handle 9-11?

Re:Fantastic!!!! (3, Insightful)

adamdoyle (1665063) | more than 4 years ago | (#32835134)

People will read that as a troll but it's true, really. Bush is much better suited to deal with oil problems than national security. (he owns multiple oil companies)

Re:Fantastic!!!! (3, Insightful)

mswhippingboy (754599) | more than 4 years ago | (#32835212)

Bush is much better suited to deal with oil problems than national security. (he owns multiple oil companies)

Right. Oil companies are great at dealing with spills aren't they? I think Moe, Curly and Shemp could've done better than BP has.

Re:Fantastic!!!! (2, Funny)

blackraven14250 (902843) | more than 4 years ago | (#32835324)

Well, they would've succeeded at sticking their finger in the hole, and having some hilarious hijinks about it getting stuck.

Re:Fantastic!!!! (0, Flamebait)

zx-15 (926808) | more than 4 years ago | (#32835330)

First of all I'm going to take a precautionary WOOSH over my own head about not getting the joke.

I don't think being a manager would entitle him to knowing details about operating an oil rig, hell even a few BP execs don't know that.

What if Bush would be the usual self and fucks up everything? With all the connections he's got in the oil industry and fucking Dick fucking Cheney, wouldn't he just be more gullible to BP's promises -- let the free market decide or such bullshit and let all the things be settled in court on individual basis or via class action. Would the government pressure BP to set up 20 bn escrow fund?

There's also additional irony in your statement, as republicans are always(say, since as far back as Reagan) have been perceived as being good on security and now you suggesting that a republican politician should probably handle a crisis that doesn't involve blowing shit up and/or killing people.

Re:Fantastic!!!! (1)

Vintermann (400722) | more than 4 years ago | (#32839308)

Do you mean "good at dealing with oil problems" from an oil company's perspective? If so, then maybe you're right.

Re:Fantastic!!!! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32835576)

It floors me to see people who are supposedly intelligent talking like this. More amazing is the user who thought that owning oil companies somehow makes a difference in how this situation is handled. I can own a hundred cars, it doesn't make me a fucking mechanic.

Keep buying into the concept that your leaders are somehow on your side. They'll keep shoveling shit as long as you keep eating it. You are the enslaved tax base that they simply need to keep in line. The betterment of your quality of life has little in the way of payback in the long run. In fact, working like a dog just to croak at the age of 57 only stands to further their bottom line, Republican and Democrat.

Re:Fantastic!!!! (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 4 years ago | (#32835636)

It floors me to see people who are supposedly intelligent talking like this.

Boy, I know how you feel.

Woosh.

Re:Fantastic!!!! (0, Offtopic)

Brett Buck (811747) | more than 4 years ago | (#32835786)

Heh well I suppose you have a point... wouldn't it be nice if we could do a swap? Have Bush handle this disaster and have Obama handle 9-11?

        First action - apologize to Bin Laden!

       

FF Gulf (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32834906)

In other news, a cigar-smoking middle aged man wearing pilots goggles and brandishing a halberd was arrested early this evening. Police say that they had to arrest the man after complaints of him swinging his weapon around in the street shouting "they stole my baby!"

This story and more at 11:00 PM.

A blimp? (3, Interesting)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 4 years ago | (#32834916)

Why does this seem like something that would appear in the plot of a Simpsons or South Park episode?

Re:A blimp? (1)

Lord_of_the_nerf (895604) | more than 4 years ago | (#32835078)

Maybe, if Gerry Ford was still alive to pilot it....'doh!'

Remediation Theatre (5, Informative)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 4 years ago | (#32835746)

Why does this seem like something that would appear in the plot of a Simpsons or South Park episode?

Because they're not really trying to clean up the oil leak.

They've rejected [financialpost.com] the best available technology for cleaning up the oil because the water it returns, in situ, isn't quite pure enough for EPA regulations.

Instead, they're attempting to pump the Gulf of Mexico into ships and cart it to land, for storage and later processing.

It's so absurd it can't be due to ignorance.

Re:Remediation Theatre (3, Insightful)

phantomcircuit (938963) | more than 4 years ago | (#32836040)

And rather than have experienced Dutch crews immediately operate the oil-skimming equipment, to appease labour unions the U.S. postponed the clean-up operation to allow U.S. crews to be trained.

Can we please dissolve the unions now?

Unions not oil-soluble. (3, Funny)

zooblethorpe (686757) | more than 4 years ago | (#32836604)

Can we please dissolve the unions now?

It appears that the unions are not oil-soluble. Perhaps if we add more detergent to the mix?

Cheers,

Re:Remediation Theatre (1, Troll)

Zimmel (1803270) | more than 4 years ago | (#32841238)

Sure, because after a huge corporation creates a criminal disaster, the first group we should punish should be workers!

Re:Remediation Theatre (4, Interesting)

nido (102070) | more than 4 years ago | (#32836042)

As someone stated the other day in my thread [slashdot.org] , most of the cleanup efforts are little more than a Public Relations campaign. Skimming has, so far, collected a astonishingly small amount of oil.

Gulf recovery effort falls short of BP's promises: [msn.com] Skimming operations have removed average of less than 900 barrels daily

... In a March report that was not questioned by federal officials, BP said it had the capacity to skim and remove 491,721 barrels of oil each day in the event of a major spill.

As of Monday, with about 2 million barrels released into the gulf, the skimming operations that were touted as key to preventing environmental disaster have averaged less than 900 barrels a day.

Skimming has captured only 67,143 barrels, and BP has relied on burning to remove 238,095 barrels. Most of the oil recovered -- about 632,410 barrels -- was captured directly at the site of the leaking well.

This is obviously due to the huge disparity between the size of a fishing boat and the vastness of the Gulf of Mexico.

I'm going to pimp my proposal again: Send the Enterprise [teslabox.com] , use the nuclear reactors to power air compressors that will pump air (oxygen) into the oil plumes in the depths of the ocean. The oxygen feeds the bacteria that eat crude oil.

The Enterprise would be stationed in the vicinity of the Macondo Prospect site (where the Deepwater Horizon went down). Bubble fences would circle the wellhead at, say, 1 mile and 2 miles, or would be concentrated in whichever direction the oily currents tend to flow.

And I was just thinking today: coastal communities could experiment with running bubble fences some distance from their beaches. These compressors could be powered by the grid. Booms seem to be a big joke - look what happened when that little storm blew threw.

All the cleanup efforts are experimental, so the President ought to order at least one aircraft carrier to the Gulf. If it helps, send the rest of the nuclear navy. :)

Re:Remediation Theatre (2, Interesting)

Xest (935314) | more than 4 years ago | (#32836512)

What do you do about the excess bacteria afterwards? Does the bacteria just magically vanish afterwards taking whatever product they convert the oil into with them?

This solution sounds like Australia's use of the cane toad to protect cane crops, only to end up with a major cane toad problem instead that's killing off the native wildlife.

Minor difference between AU and GoM (2, Informative)

zooblethorpe (686757) | more than 4 years ago | (#32836602)

It bears pointing out that the cane toad was imported from outside the Australian ecosystem, whereupon it became a runaway success as an invasive species. Meanwhile, the bacteria mentioned here are already present as a natural part of the Gulf ecosystem, and they thus present zero risk of invasiveness.

Mind you, I'm not saying that guarantees there'll be no problems -- I certainly don't know enough to say one way or the other. But we can be reasonably sure that the oil-munching bacteria in the Gulf are safer than the cane toad, simply because they're already there.

Cheers,

Re:Minor difference between AU and GoM (2, Interesting)

Xest (935314) | more than 4 years ago | (#32837046)

"It bears pointing out that the cane toad was imported from outside the Australian ecosystem, whereupon it became a runaway success as an invasive species. Meanwhile, the bacteria mentioned here are already present as a natural part of the Gulf ecosystem, and they thus present zero risk of invasiveness."

Absolutely, but that wasn't really my fundamental point with the comparison- my point was that if you alter an ecosystem in any way whatsoever it can result in just causing a whole new set of problems.

The other poster responding to me below mentioned that when you stop the oxygen you stop the bacteria and things go back to normal, but that can't happen- the bacteria has to either live or die, if it lives you have an excess of it which may cause problems, if it dies then you're releasing massive amounts of whatever compound these bacteria release when they die into the ocean.

So effectively, whilst yes, bacteria may be able to deal with the oil, all you're doing is exchanging one problem for another (again, hence the cane toad analogy)- I doubt very much a sudden release of dying bacteria is in itself healthy.

Perhaps a better comparison would be with the algal blooms- these often occur when we get too much fertiliser run off from farming into a river, lake or sea, and whilst the algae may well be native to that body of water, the sudden increase in population is devastating for the other wild life there and can even be dangerous for humans- I suspect a drastic increase in oil eating bacteria would be exactly the same.

At the end of the day, unless we can really just turn oil into sea water, picking up as much of the oil as possible and bringing it in shore where we can use it in a slightly less harmful manner probably is the only way to handle the cleanup without completely screwing the environment, albeit in a different way than the oil would. It's a case of separating massive amounts of one substance from massive amounts of another, sure we can change one of the substances, but it's still likely only going to be to something equally problematic that still needs separating.

Re:Minor difference between AU and GoM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32839912)

Faggot.

Re:Minor difference between AU and GoM (1)

nido (102070) | more than 4 years ago | (#32841246)

Perhaps a better comparison would be with the algal blooms...

Many of the problems associated with algal blooms also trace back to an oxygen deficiency:

When phosphates are introduced into water systems, higher concentrations cause increased growth of algae and plants. Algae tend to grow very quickly under high nutrient availability, but each alga is short-lived, and the result is a high concentration of dead organic matter which starts to decay. The decay process consumes dissolved oxygen in the water, resulting in hypoxic conditions. Without sufficient dissolved oxygen in the water, animals and plants may die off in large numbers.

-http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Algae_bloom [wikipedia.org]

The end products of crude oil bioremediation are carbon dioxide and whatever heavy metals were in the crude oil to begin with. Here are some links:

Oil-Eating Microbes a Possible Solution [oceanleadership.org]
Local company volunteers oil-eating bacteria [heraldtribune.com]

Thanks for your comments!

Re:Remediation Theatre (2, Interesting)

priegog (1291820) | more than 4 years ago | (#32836812)

...Except by not actually introducing any new species, it is nothing like Autralia's toad problem. When the oxygen stops being pumped, the bacteria return to normal population levels.
Having said that, I somehow very much doubt that even if you shoveled tons of bateria down there and made oxygen readily available, they'd be able to metabolize the millions and millions of gallons of oil that are being released each day. A nice way to speed up ecological recovery once the well has been plugged? Sure. A real solution that will take care of the spill at the required speed when there are monstruous amounts of crude escaping that place every single second? No way. Not by a long shot.

I had being toying with the idea of oxygen bubbles, incidentally (hadn't thought about how to power the air pumps, thanks for that). But in a much more different scenario. Surround the leak with air pumps that inject enormous amounts of oxygen (as much as needed) to create a sort of oil/air/water emulsion, and set the damn thing on fire. After all, that's the way they deal with excess oil/gas in drilling sites on land, right? By just burning it?
I have NO idea how feasible this would be, but what is clear is that that hole needs to be plugged NOW. Why haven't we heard on the news of any new genious plans to make this happen? Do BP and the goverment plan to do NOTHING? Will they start to take the russian approach more seriously at some point (you'd think they have another plan if they are so quick to disregard the only people who have had to deal with with problem multiple times before)?
I'm sorry, but bringing a F$%"ing blimp is a JOKE. What are they doing to SOLVE THE PROBLEM?

Re:Remediation Theatre (1)

Xest (935314) | more than 4 years ago | (#32837168)

Rather than repeat myself, I'll link to my other post:

http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1711704&threshold=1&commentsort=0&mode=thread&pid=32836602#32837046 [slashdot.org]

Apologies if I wasn't clear with the cane toad analogy- I wasn't suggesting it's the same as introducing an invasive species per se, merely comparing it to an example of the fact that when you introduce a change to an ecosystem whether with an invasive species or not, you tend to introduce other problems.

Re:Remediation Theatre (1)

priegog (1291820) | more than 4 years ago | (#32837200)

We pretty much agree, then :)

Re:Remediation Theatre (2, Funny)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 4 years ago | (#32837670)

What do you do about the excess bacteria afterwards?

That's easy, you just send in oil-eating bacteria-eating bacteria.

Then after that's done, you send in oil-eating bacteria-eating bacteria-eating bacteria.

By the time we get up to needing cats all the mice will have drowned.

Re:Remediation Theatre (1)

gtall (79522) | more than 4 years ago | (#32836974)

Nice proposal. Now, as an administrator in charge of Oil Naughtiness, could you please submit your studies showing the efficacy of your scheme. Also include your published, peer reviewed papers as well. We'd like a thorough understanding before we make any decision involving billions of dollars in taxpayer money and possibly adverse lawyer scum induced lawsuits in case of unexpected consequences. You'll be putting your home up for collateral, of course. We must be sure you have skin in the game, or where we can remove it from you in case this blows up in our faces.

Re:Remediation Theatre (1)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 4 years ago | (#32837656)

Send the Enterprise [teslabox.com]

Hrm. While I suppose the Federation's flagship probably has more important things to do, I do have to admit that a few photon torpedoes would get the well closed up pretty quickly.

Re:Remediation Theatre (4, Insightful)

Xest (935314) | more than 4 years ago | (#32836546)

It doesn't sound suprising. After Hurricane Katrina countries like Cuba offered to help the US too being experts in Hurricane releif seeing as they get them and get hit hardest by them more so than pretty much any other country in the world.

Of course, the US turned the offer of support down.

It's presumably either pride, or political, the saying "Cutting your nose off to spite your face" seems to sum it up best.

Cutting your nose off to spite your face (3, Insightful)

zooblethorpe (686757) | more than 4 years ago | (#32836640)

That saying works so well to describe American politics in large part because the nose being cut off generally belongs to someone else.

  • Financial crisis: someone else's money -- check.
  • Gulf crisis: someone else's real estate / livelihood / etc. -- check.
  • Middle-east wars: someone else's money / country / population -- check.

This list could go on and on, but the basic idea is that, so long as the ones making the decisions aren't actually accountable and aren't themselves directly inconvenienced, they couldn't really give a rat's ass how messy or slipshod their proposed solution might be. So long as it keeps the gravy train running, it's all good, as far as they're concerned.

Cheers,

At least people ain't dying this time (4, Insightful)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 4 years ago | (#32836674)

A dutch marine vessel was not allowed to help during the Kathrine/New Orleans disaster.

The US government is very scared of allowing any foreign aid. The US survives on its people believing that they are the best. Seeing other countries flags displayed dealing with stuff the US itself can't dealwith could upset that.

It might get people to question whether they voted for the right guy or even worse, the right economic policiy. Nothing scares BOTH US parties more then the idea that some Americans might start think Socialism might not be totally evil.

Part of it is also the American attitude of "can do". It works when things are fine but fails when the shit hits the fan. That requires a more EU lookout "life is bleak and we are going to die horribly". Why do ALL EU countries have superior disaster equipment? Because we know we are doomed. The dutch dikes are better then the New Orleans ones because no dutch person believes god has blessed this country (From the weather he seems to be pissing on us most of the time).

What is odd that while the US goverment is always very reluctant to receive aid, they hand it out readily. When the dutch dikes did break in 1953, US helicopters were quick to arrive and start helping people.

US, learn to accept that accepting help is NOT a sign of weakness. Your children won't start smoking pot because some dutch engineers are walking your shores and thinking gay marriage is peoples own affair.

Re:At least people ain't dying this time (1)

Jason Levine (196982) | more than 4 years ago | (#32838948)

I know accepting help isn't a sign of weakness but perhaps the false "it's a sign of weakness" could be used as an advantage. Let's say we accept help and people start thinking "We're so weak because we couldn't do this for ourselves", perhaps that would give people and companies the incentive to invest in science, technology and local manufacturing capabilities instead of outsourcing everything to other countries.

Come to think of it, why isn't saying "We can't provide XYZ here at a cost competitive with India/China/etc" a "sign of weakness" if asking for help after a disaster is? The latter is usually something you're usually unprepared for and need help with. The former is something you should be equipped to do every day.

Re:At least people ain't dying this time (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#32839156)

US, learn to accept that accepting help is NOT a sign of weakness. Your children won't start smoking pot because some dutch engineers are walking your shores and thinking gay marriage is peoples own affair.

No shit. There are no children left in the USA not smoking pot, so that's fucking impossible.

Re:At least people ain't dying this time (1)

Kaboom13 (235759) | more than 4 years ago | (#32840246)

I really think it's precisely because we are so used to being the ones helping and not the ones being helped. For a long time America was the country that could do anything, make anything possible, build anything that could be built. Of course that has always been more myth then reality, but every culture has it's own conceits. Somewhere along the way our political system morphed from the "great experiment" to a system were everyone is afraid of anything that might imply America right now is the greatest country ever in the history of the universe and anyone talking about change or reform is a communist.

In a few hundred years we conquered an untamed continent, and turned it into an economic and industrial powerhouse capable of making everything from corn to lunar landers. Yet now politicians act like it is some impossible effort to fix a few potholes in the highway system we built 50+ years ago. It's ridiculous.

As a Floridian (living in an area drained by the army core of engineers back when converting swampland to usable land via a massive canal system across an entire state was no big deal) who loves our states natural beauty and marshland, I say bring on the Dutch. There's no doubt they have the best hydrological engineers on the planet, large sections of their country continue to exist only because of their expertise. BP and our politicians have completely failed in every aspect of responding to this mess. Whoever turned the Dutch away should be fired as soon as possible. From the very beginning their response has been 100% PR with no substance. Within a week of it happening Obama should have had the best experts in the world on oil spill cleanup and mitigation here, and given them the full force of his executive authority. As the chief executive THATS HIS FUCKING JOB. Not give speeches, not give tv interviews, not spout vitriol at Britian, or play pin the blame on the regulator, but to react to an emergency like this as quickly as possible in a manner Congress (by its bureaucratic nature) can't.

The people affected by this shit couldn't care less if our elected officials have to go hat in hand to Europe and ask for their help (never mind that help was freely offered). That's the job, and by failing to do it he has failed us.

Re:Remediation Theatre (1)

Vintermann (400722) | more than 4 years ago | (#32839390)

Maybe you shouldn't take everything you read by Lawrence Solomon [sourcewatch.org] at face value.

So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32834926)

What happens if the blimp comes within 65 vertical feet of a beach when passing over it? Is everyone there guilty of a class D felony?

Wonderful (1, Interesting)

spartacus_prime (861925) | more than 4 years ago | (#32834928)

But is this really an effective use of taxpayer money?

Re:Wonderful (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32834946)

Better there than Afghanistan.

Re:Wonderful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32837360)

Yes, so far BP has done more to ensure world peace than any other organisation in the world!

Re:Wonderful (4, Informative)

ducomputergeek (595742) | more than 4 years ago | (#32834954)

Blimps are cheaper to operate then helicopters or fixed wing airplanes. At least manned ones. Not sure if they are cheaper than drones.

Re:Wonderful (0, Redundant)

LoRdTAW (99712) | more than 4 years ago | (#32835244)

An unfortunate waste of Helium though.

Re:Wonderful (1)

blackraven14250 (902843) | more than 4 years ago | (#32835332)

....because the helium from the blimp can't be drained at a later point, or reused in any fashion whatsoever?

Re:Wonderful (1)

seifried (12921) | more than 4 years ago | (#32835680)

You'll never get 100% recovery. Stuff always leaks. Couplings, etc.

Re:Wonderful (2, Insightful)

Vintermann (400722) | more than 4 years ago | (#32839416)

I'd worry more about the helium that's wasted in party balloons.

Re:Wonderful (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32835604)

Blimps don't HAVE to use Helium at all. Hydrogen is cheaper and less dense!

Re:Wonderful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32835826)

I've heard (mostly through conjecture) that this is a really bad idea:
Think about it, hydrogen is combustible. If they _somehow_ bumped into something, that shit would totally go up in flames!!

I know, I know... [citation needed]

Re:Wonderful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32836200)

My sarcasm detector must be broken... Are you serious?

Existing satellite tech up there is even cheaper (1)

Conspire (102879) | more than 4 years ago | (#32838592)

Sats up there can do an even better job than the blimp, especially NASA and NSA ones we don't even know about. Blimp is publicity only...jeff

Re:Existing satellite tech up there is even cheape (1)

caerwyn (38056) | more than 4 years ago | (#32838796)

Err, no, they can't, actually. Sats have much worse imaging capability and have interference from weather, not to mention only periodic imaging capabilities. (Either you're talking about something in geo, in which case it's quite far away, or leo, in which case it's only going to pass over the site for picture taking every so often.)

Airships are actually quite good for this sort of task.

Re:Wonderful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32834958)

But is this really an effective use of taxpayer money?

Theoretically, it is BP's money. In practice though, BP's excellent lawyers will argue that the blimp is US Navy property and thus they don't have to pay for it.

Re:Wonderful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32835428)

Probably the same thing that's gonna happen with damages for fucked up coastline - "the govt owns it, but they weren't making money... so we don;t have to pay compensation". Fucking lawyers.

Re:Wonderful (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 4 years ago | (#32835790)

You know, you're just giving me an idea for what to do with all that oil: Drown lawyers in it!

Re:Wonderful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32835836)

Probably the same thing that's gonna happen with damages for fucked up coastline - "the govt owns it, but they weren't making money... so we don;t have to pay compensation". Fucking lawyers.

True. The government should give BP money for all the free oil it is getting. Millions of gallons of oil have been donated by BP to federal, state, and local governments over the last couple months and BP hasn't been given even once cent. It's a shakedown I say.

It's VERY effective (1)

DesScorp (410532) | more than 4 years ago | (#32835888)

But is this really an effective use of taxpayer money?

Blimps and airships are pretty cheap to operate for most things. The Navy has a long history with LTA (lighter than air) craft, using them more prominently than perhaps even Imperial Germany, who really popularized the Zeppelin. The Navy had something of a golden age with their airships, with 4 of their Zeppelin-class airships being commissioned as ships of the line, the same as surface warships. Two of them ... the USS Akron and the USS Macon were actually Zeppelin aircraft carriers. They both carried a squadron of Curtis Sparrowhawk fighter planes, which would attach to the mothership via a skyhook. The carriers even had a hangar bay inside the airships, and at 800 ft long, there were nearly as long as modern surface supercarriers.

End the end, it wasn't expense that ended the age of Navy airships, it was safety. Most were destroyed in catastrophic accidents, and they were vulnerable to sudden, violent weather. Billy Mitchell... arguably father of the modern air force... was court martialed in part because he used the airship crashes in his publicity campaign against Naval aviation (which has left a legacy of bitterness between the two services that continues to this day).

The Navy continued to use LTA craft into WWII though, especially as spotter balloons, and even continued to use smaller airships into the 50's for things like anti-submarine patrol. I'm rather glad to see them get back into the LTA business, as you can do a lot with airships very inexpensively. Make them remote-piloted drones, and you can send them up for days at a time as radar AEW craft, reconnaissance craft, or even as remote weapons platforms. Airships... both manned and unmanned.... probably still make more sense as anti-sub platforms than land-based fixed wing aircraft.

Isn't it a little too late? (0, Flamebait)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 4 years ago | (#32834980)

Heck, the spill has been going on for over seventy days! What is wrong with the 'mighty' USA?

Screw you! (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32835040)

Obama's doing a great job! At this very moment, Sir Paul McCartney is readying his Yellow Submarine to help clean up the mess the BP Meanies left to wash up on the shores of Obamaland.

WE CAN DO IT!!

What is wrong with the 'mighty' USA? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32835274)

It leaks oil -among other things- like a sieve.

Re:Isn't it a little too late? (0, Flamebait)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 4 years ago | (#32835588)

The problem is we trusted a british oil company to know what they were doing. Silly us.

Re:Isn't it a little too late? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32835834)

Your 'British' oil company has around 60% of its shareholders living in he USA... this has nothing to do with geography of the HQ.

Besides, didn't ALL of the major oil companies have the same emergency plan?

Re:Isn't it a little too late? (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#32839904)

They did make one major mistake: if you're going to have a massive oil leak, you should have it in the Niger delta, because nobody gives a fuck about the brown people who live there.

Re:Isn't it a little too late? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32835624)

If the USA set off a nuke like everyone else has done (and miraculously succeeded) it would be you complaining that the "mighty USA" can't "solve problems without resorting to warfare" and that "the oil-spill detonation is a modern-day resemblance of the Hiroshima bombing."

Not that I think the USA deserves particular praise. I just like to think that everyone is relatively equally inept.

(But at least it's known... this event would be veiled by many other countries, e.g. Mexico.)

Re:Isn't it a little too late? (1)

gtall (79522) | more than 4 years ago | (#32836998)

It is important to develop a sense of proportion and the differences between apples and oranges.

Blimp details (5, Informative)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 4 years ago | (#32834988)

The article doesn't mention that this is the MZ-3 [wikipedia.org] . It is currently assigned to Scientific Development Squadron ONE (VXS-1), based out of NAS Patuxent River, MD. It was being tested in Yuma, AZ until its recent assignment to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill cleanup efforts. Its crew are contractors from Integrated Systems Solutions, Inc. -- they have a website, but it's too crappy to bother linking here. The crew includes Commanding Officer Cmdr. Chris Janke, Burt Race, a retired Navy pilot, Chief Pilot Peter Buckley, second pilot Russell Mills, and up to five other positions available.

For those of you wondering if reporters are going to be on this blimp -- probably not. It is not a civilian vessel, and space for personnel is at a premium. As well, as a fully vetted and operating Navy aircraft, it also contains military communications equipment. Very little in the way of surveillance equipment has been fitted on the airframe; Weight is a major concern for such a craft.

But where's the lasers? (1)

CityZen (464761) | more than 4 years ago | (#32835012)

I mean, spotting the oil is nice, but burning it away with lasers would be way cooler.

Re:But where's the lasers? (1)

Nialin (570647) | more than 4 years ago | (#32835858)

They're currently fitting the local shark population with them... on their foreheads, of all places.

Re:But where's the lasers? (1)

mavasplode (1808684) | more than 4 years ago | (#32836002)

I can see it now. [deviantart.com]

Re:But where's the lasers? (1)

nopainogain (1091795) | more than 4 years ago | (#32837712)

blimps + lasers = hindenberg

Ask Lucas (1)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 4 years ago | (#32837778)

Well, I hear they were going to have some lasers, but they're getting sued by Lucas for looking too much like some lightsaber handles he had in mind for a future movie ;)

There... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32835062)

"It's in the water," says the blimp.

Re:There... (1)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 4 years ago | (#32835344)

Yup, that pretty much sums it up. I suspect you could effectively locate the contaminated portions of the Gulf of Mexico from a blimp floating in Jupiter's atmosphere.

A blimp? (1)

NetNed (955141) | more than 4 years ago | (#32835086)

Well hey I feel a lot safer now, doesn't every one else?

If your favorite singer is named Joe Diffie (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32835160)

You might be a redneck faggot.

Yeap. (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 4 years ago | (#32835170)

From TFA:

The airship is more economical and can stay in the air for 12 hours, longer than helicopters or airplanes already in use,

so the Also,

The airship is more economical and can stay in the air for 12 hours

What?!? What's preventing it to stay longer?

Re:Yeap. (1)

mmcxii (1707574) | more than 4 years ago | (#32835204)

The airship is still going to need fuel to observe the hot spots. It's not just a matter of keeping it up in the sky, it needs to be over certain areas to do whatever observations it needs to do or it's useless to the researchers.

Hell, the researchers and engineers can keep a blimp afloat over my house for the next three months but it's not going to further their understanding of the Gulf spill.

The little matter of fuel, that's what limits them (1)

fnj (64210) | more than 4 years ago | (#32835980)

The fuel gets close to running out after 12 hours. It's really bad news to run out of fuel. Without engine power you have no steerageway on the airship and she is out of control vertically and horizontally. Also there is then no way to control the envelope pressure, which has to be kept between delicate limits. Little things like that. There is no real provision for crew rest, meals, and such like. This is a really tiny airship. It is only about 1/40 the size of the Hindenburg.

The largest airships of the 1930s, including the US Navy Akron and Macon, could stay out for one week without refuelling. They had proper facilities for the crew, who stood watches like on a surface ship.

why on earth a manned blimp? (1)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 4 years ago | (#32839568)

Wouldn't this be a excellent test / PR for those high-endurance UAVs they're always trying to sell to the military?
Hell, /.'s had stories about unmanned blimps or "stratellites" in the recent past.



Oh, I see, there's no money for environmental monitoring, just for blowing up the brown peeples. Economic stimulus my ass.

Re:why on earth a manned blimp? (1)

fnj (64210) | more than 4 years ago | (#32840022)

Those are yet vaporware.

Who needs a blimp (0)

sxedog (824351) | more than 4 years ago | (#32835226)

To see the oil. Its all over the shore. Waste of money.

Pack it up? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32835310)

"The slow-moving airship will be arriving at the Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport in Mississippi after more than a month of travel from Yuma, Arizona where it's based."

Couldn't they pack it up and fly or drive it there? Guess there wasn't any hurry to get there.

Re:Pack it up? (1)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 4 years ago | (#32835358)

Don't worry, BP is only just getting started fucking up. This blimp will still get to spend plenty of time over the gulf spotting runaway crude.

Re:Pack it up? (1)

Delarth799 (1839672) | more than 4 years ago | (#32835494)

Actually BP has packed the blimp full of oil expanding chemicals because they forgot whats supposed to happen. BP of course will have forgotten to check the emergency backup fuel, and once the blimp is over the middle of the oil spill disaster strikes. The oil expanding chemicals mix with the oil on the ocean surface causing the spill to magically double in size almost instantaneously. BP will setup another "We are really really for sure sorry about this, we promise" fund, and several "investigations" will be launched while BP tries to point the finger at the blimp company itself and the fuel supplier of the fuel.

More Oil Spotting? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32835522)

Oh well, sending a blimp to make more oil spots in the gulf won't make matters significantly worse I suppose. I think BP will applaud this effort -- at least now they can blame the government for creating all the oil spots.

It's the blimp, Frank!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32835580)

so looking (2, Interesting)

nimbius (983462) | more than 4 years ago | (#32835718)

at this thing...it doesnt really exude confidence [wikipedia.org]

why aren't we sending these? [wikimedia.org] with much more advanced optics and sensor systems, and the ability to operate autonomously

Re:so looking (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | more than 4 years ago | (#32836936)

Ummm. efficiency? The drone may be advanced, but it would take all the oil currently laying in the gulf, processed into fuel to keep it in the air. Comparatively the blimp simply floats and uses a bit of energy to move around. Jets are incredibly fuel hungry so I'd hate to think one would be dedicated to continuously flying over the gulf for the next few years just to take pictures of some oil.

It would be like watching someone boot up a computer just to type a quick equation into the windows calculator and then shutdown again when there's a perfectly good calculator sitting on the desk.

Re:so looking (1)

tokul (682258) | more than 4 years ago | (#32837764)

why aren't we sending these?

Blimps can stay in area longer, don't carry air to surface missiles and IMHO they cost less than 5 mln USD.

Re:so looking (1)

rak-wolf (1589327) | more than 4 years ago | (#32840210)

Because one of these [www.cbc.ca] is already being used, and is more than sufficient for tracking slicks at a reasonable cost.

The introduction of this blimp is probably to [ test out new equipment | reduce cost slightly (or at least keep them within the US) | generate PR for the navy / US Gov.] (pick the one that best suits your level of cynicism)

What if there is another disaster? (1)

antdude (79039) | more than 4 years ago | (#32835850)

What if the blimp get flamed up and crash to the oil spill? Disaster!

To the morons who tagged this "British Pollution": (1)

Trogre (513942) | more than 4 years ago | (#32836712)

BP plc hasn't stood for British Petroleum since at least 1998 when it merged with Amoco. In fact, there's nearly as many shares in the US as there is in the UK (39% vs 40%).

we use blimps? (1)

nopainogain (1091795) | more than 4 years ago | (#32837662)

High powered visual software powered by geosynchronous satellites--CHECK Nuclear powered battle group that can stay at say almost indefinitely---CHECK Vertical Take-off and Landing Stealth fighter jets---------CHECK hot air balloon technology from the 19th century, wait what?!

Re:we use blimps? (1)

nopainogain (1091795) | more than 4 years ago | (#32838560)

i just cant type or think this week. say--sea powered by should have said "fed by" no more posting before 8am.

Right on Top of Things (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32838048)

Yep, this Administration has been right on top of things since day 1.
How many days did it take to identify a long term, aerial, on-station presence as a good idea to coordinate efforts from above?

Impressive job adding a "blimp" (1)

Conspire (102879) | more than 4 years ago | (#32838186)

Well, the author of the article failed to mention that all pictures, videos and any information gathered won't be released to the public until there are hundreds of requests via FOIA, which they will fight and maybe not ever release for years, if ever, anyway! Don underestimate this "spill", it could be of apocalypse scale and severity. This one could end a lot more than we think, and the media is not exactly making a huge deal out of it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W-7K-ZPaLa8 [youtube.com] Check out this sea flight view of the gulf. This is what the blimp will see

http://gizmodo.com/5547548/the-gulf-disaster-video-that-bp-doesnt-want-you-to-see [gizmodo.com] Maybe they should send some subs for more pics like this?

http://gizmodo.com/5542969/gulf-oil-disaster-looks-very-scary-says-astronaut [gizmodo.com] Hey, we already have space pics.....the blimp is really going to help

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ALAvTeRMYc&feature=related [youtube.com] Ex Shell CEO saying "Its not going to stop"

http://www.helium.com/items/1864136-how-the-ultimate-bp-gulf-disaster-could-kill-millions [helium.com] Now this is an interesting theory. The probability of course is unknown. Any thoughts from geologists who are experts on the gulf sea floor or with enough knowledge they could call themselves an expert witness, might shed some light. And, well Sarah Palin is calling for "divine intervention" on her twitter feed....damn if only she were president things would really be moving along....hah.

Obligatory Tick (1)

JoeRandomHacker (983775) | more than 4 years ago | (#32839442)

Hey cool! They’ve got a blimp!

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