Coast Guard Takes Deepwater Mission Personally

The Deepwater Response at sunset. Adam Eggers/U.S.Coast Guard

ABOARD THE USCGC DECISIVE - There are so many huge boats, towers, and other vessels above the wreck of the Deepwater Horizon that it looks like the downtown of a small city has sprung up out of the water of the Gulf of Mexico. The captain of this Coast Guard cutter hopes all the activity means the final end of the oil spill is imminent.

"We're certainly hoping the static kill is within 48 hours," says Commander Teri Jordan. "Because we're from the Gulf Coast and that would be great news."

The static kill is BP's latest attempt to completely stop the oil that's been gushing from the ruptured oil pipeline since the explosion on April 20. The Decisive's primary mission out here is search and rescue.  But they've also been keeping a close eye on all the boats and planes in the area, as well as the leaking oil - because it's coming on to the shores of their hometown.

The United States Coast Guard cutter Decisive in the Gulf of Mexico. Adam Eggers/U.S. Coast Guard

"Decisive is home-ported out of Pascagoula, Mississippi. A quarter of our crew members are from the Gulf Coast," says Jordan. "So we have a personal interest in this as well."

Jordan is the only one of the 75 crew members on board to have seen an oil spill before.

As a cadet, she was part of the Coast Guard response to the Exxon Valdez oil spill. While she says the two spills are on a "different scale," she hopes the Coast Guard is learning from that spill to help minimize the damage here.

"It's definitely a more personal connection," Jordan says. "Our crew is eager to be out here, they're eager to preserve the way of life on the Gulf Coast."

Special Section: Gulf Coast Oil Disaster