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penny3333 05-06-2010 06:52 AM

Ok, I know I'm a blonde, but why can the ships not sail through the oil? Would it gum up the propellers?

Dave 05-06-2010 07:24 AM

Speaking from an engineering point of view - there are many seawater intakes in the average ship's hull. These are bringing seawater in to cool heat exchangers, water for pools, fresh water evaporators, etc. A lot of systems rely on seawater constantly being pumped in and out of the ship and that much oil could mess up a lot of equipment.

Of course, in most places of the slick it is only a few millimeters thick and on the surface. But wave action or simply the action of the hull going through the slick will provide enough mixing to send some oil close enough to a suction point. Ships often encounter and go through spots of oil, so I'd think the size and time spent in the slick is a factor.

penny3333 05-06-2010 09:14 AM

I didn't even think about the intakes. It would seem like they could shut them off for a little while and get through the mess. Of course, they probably can't. I hope to heavens they can get this junk cleaned up!

Dwayne 05-06-2010 11:58 AM

Excellent explanation Dave! I bet that could really mess things up on a ship.


Dave 05-06-2010 01:25 PM

A little bit of oil isn't a big issue, but lots of it would coat the inside of the heat exchangers and reduce heat transfer efficiency. They'd never get it all out without tearing down the components and cleaning them. It would really do a number on any of the systems used to make fresh water, septic systems, and so forth. I don't know about cruise ships but on naval vessels our flushing water was straight from the ocean with just a strainer in the intake line to catch the fish and other big chunks.

penny3333 05-07-2010 10:36 AM

I'd imagine it would be the same on the cruise ships. I read something about they were going to use hair to get up the oil?

drlivingston 05-07-2010 05:20 PM

At least RCCL won't be indicted for this oil slick.

Dave 05-07-2010 05:27 PM

But I'd not be surprised to learn some anti-cruising goobs are desperately hoping to find evidence that cruise lines buy BP fuel oil. "Aha! The smoking gun!"

drlivingston 05-08-2010 10:07 AM

I was going to add a joke about the oil slick but I thought some might find it crude

Dave 05-08-2010 11:20 AM

Why do I suddenly have a craving for one of those greasy (and good) Carnival cheeseburgers?

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