USCG Commander Joe Boudrow announced yesterday plans to form a working group to improve the Vessel of Opportunity Program (VoO) in Florida, which employs boat owners and their crews to help in the response across the Gulf. The Commander announced the working group after hearing concerns at a community meeting with commercial fisherman and other community members in Apalachicola, FL. (Remember we wrote about the problems with this program June 3)
To date, more than 2,700 vessels have been hired through the VoO program and are working aggressively to perform a variety of important tasks, including deploying and monitoring containment boom, transporting equipment and personnel and surface and subsurface surveillance.
“In order to ensure that local residents continue to participate in the VoO program and to streamline the hiring process, this new working group will be composed of commercial fisherman, community leaders, along with representatives from the U.S. Coast Guard and BP,” said Commander Boudrow. “With the working group’s help, we will continue to aggressively hire local crews with the necessary local knowledge of these waterways to support our efforts to provide the largest response to an oil spill in this country’s history.”
The VoO program hires vessels of all sizes – with a priority placed on commercial vessels that make their living on the sea. Compensation depends on the size of the vessel and ranges from $1,200-$3,000 per day. Crew members are paid $200 per eight-hour shift.
Vessel owners interested in the VOO program should call the VOO Hotline at (866) 279-7983 or visit www.restorethegulf.gov.