BP is paying private vessels thousands of dollars to assist with the clean up operation

Boaters in Louisiana are being hired to help fight the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. BP has hired 500 civilian boatowners as part of its ‘Vessel of Opportunity’ programme, and says more than 1000 people have already received training in areas such as oil-spill response safety and boom towing.

The boats, which are being hired for $1500 per day, are being organised into 25-vessel ‘task forces’ that can be dispatched from numerous spots along the Louisiana coast. They are being used for a variety of tasks which include transporting supplies, performing wildlife rescue, and towing and deploying oil containment booms.

Before being taken on, owners are required to attend a four-hour training session, pass a dockside examination by the US Coast Guard, and meet crewing requirements based on the size of their vessel.

Oil has been gushing into the Gulf of Mexico since the drilling rig Deepwater Horizon sank on 22 April following an explosion and fire. BP has admitted responsibility for the cost of the clean up but denies any negligence.