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"Control, Containment, and Cleanup of a spill are paramount in the Navy's efforts to maintain a clean environment, even after a spill might occur."

Response is the mobilization and deployment of trained personnel and pre-staged equipment to the scene of a spill. The Navy's policy is to respond to Navy spills and to undertake direct and immediate action to minimize the spill's effect. To execute this policy, the Navy uses a three-tier system and a network of response assets.


The U.S. follows a tiered system, based on the required equipment and response times established by the USCG. Response planning is based on Average Most Probable Discharge (AMPD), Maximum Most Probable Discharge (MMPD), and Worst Case Discharge (WCD) scenarios. Further, WCDs are broken down into Tier 1, Tier 2, and Tier 3, reflecting an ever increasing amount of equipment being brought to bear, with a correspondingly increased response time. Whether responding to a Tier 1, 2 or 3 type events, the Navy uses a response structure that follows the Incident Command System (ICS).

The international community follows a differently structured Three-Tiered Response System. Tier 1 consists of mobilizing and deploying immediately available resources, such as those pre-positioned at a specific base. Larger spills will require greater quantities of response equipment and a Tier 2 response. Tier 2 consists of mobilizing equipment from a wider regional area. For example, equipment from several facilities located in the same geographic area would be used during a Tier 2 response. Tier 3 is considered to be a coast-wide or national response effort and involves mobilizing equipment to a major spill from multiple regions.


The Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) provides, "first response" type equipment, (AMPD, MMPD, WCD Tier 1 in CONUS, Tier 1 Overseas) such as harbor boom, near-shore skimmers and work platforms to Navy activities posing a spill risk. The Navy also has access to commercial oil pollution response assets through Basic Ordering Agreements (BOAs) pre-negotiated by the United States Coast Guard (USCG). Equipment for responding to larger (WCD Tier 2 and 3) spill events is procured, maintained and deployed by SUPSALV and consists of large open-ocean boom, skimmers, and support craft. SUPSALV maintains and deploys this Navy equipment through commercial contractors and also has emergency contracting authority to obtain further specialized response assets as required. Requests for BOA contractors and SUPSALV support must come from the NOSC managing a spill response.


SUPSALV deployed Current Buster high speed skimmers on leased OSV assets in support of USCG response efforts during Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.

When SUPSALV assistance is provided, funding is required to cover equipment mobilization, shipping, refurbishment costs, and personnel travel and labor. Upon requesting SUPSALV assistance, the NOSC will be provided with a cost estimate of the funding needed to commence a response. Naval activities requesting service should provide NAVSEA 00C with a NAVCOMPT form 2276, Request for Contractual Procurement, in the amount of the SUPSALV provided estimate. SUPSALV support is also available to other federal agencies. Contact SUPSALV for funding information.


SUPSALV provides technical, operational, and emergency support resources for oil or hazardous substance spill response anywhere in the world. Not only as the Navy's primary Tier 2/3 responder, but as a National Contingency Plan Special Team, SUPSALV plays a national role in spill response. SUPSALV has responded to several major oil spills throughout the world over the last several decades.


SUPSALV supported the USCG in removal of more than 10,000 gallons of fuel near historic St. George, Alaska by providing offload hoses and pumping system components after the fishing vessel Mar-Gun went aground on March 5, 2009.


  em> Oil spills often require handling of a significant amount of debris. Shown here is a skimmer clogged with debris during the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Response in 2010.

The tremendous inventory of equipment and extensive training program allows SUPSALV personnel to deploy to remote areas and conduct all facets of spill response. SUPSALV provides a complete spill response capability including spill management, equipment operations, on-site training of local labor, recovered oil storage and full logistics support. Examples of SUPSALV's spill response operations over the last few decades are listed below.

Response Name

Response Type/ Location


Bahia Paraiso

Barge fuel oil spill. Palmer Station, Antarctica


Exxon Valdez

Tanker crude oil spill. Prince William Sound, Alaska


Hope Victory

Container ship fuel oil spill. Suisun Bay, California


American Trader

Tanker crude oil spill. Huntington Beach, California


Columbus America

Container ship fuel oil spill. Hampton Roads, Virginia


Mega Borg

Tanker fire and crude oil spill. Galveston, Texas


Colonial Pipeline

Pipeline heating oil spill. Sugarland Run, Virginia


Morris J. Berman

Barge bunker oil spill. San Juan, Puerto Rico


San Jacinto River

Pipeline crude oil and refined product spill. Texas


Chevron Pipeline

Pipeline black oil spill. Pearl Harbor, Hawaii


Whittier Tank Farm

Tank farm refined product spill. Whittier, Alaska



 Ship grounding with oil spill. Chile


F/V Ehime Maru

Oil removal from sunken vessel and spill response. Hawaii



Oil removal from sunken WWII wreck. Ulithi Atoll, Micronesia


Operation Iraqi Freedom

Khawr Al Amaya/ Mina Al Bakr Oil Terminals spill stand-by


M/V Tong Cheng

Oil removal from vessel in distress. Hawaii



Oil removal from sunken WWII-era wreck. Pago Pago, America Samoa


Deep Water Horizon

Blowout oil containment and recovery. Gulf of Mexico


Ex- USS PRINZ EUGEN  Oil removal from sunken WWII wreck in Marshall Islands 2019