USING OIL TANKERS vs. WATERBAGS TO TRANSPORT AND STORE FRESH WATER

It has been proposed that out of service single hull oil tankers be used for tankering fresh water along the California Coast, specifically into Monterey Bay.

The following are written comments from Captain Robert Brandenberger (prior to his retirement considered to be one of the most experienced mooring masters in California), regarding the use of tankers to transport fresh water in California, dated May 15, 1999.  In 1990 Captain Brandenberger was retained by the City of Santa Barbara as their Consultant regarding tankering of water from Canada to Santa Barbara.

Tankering of water to San Diego, California, or any other place in the world, using obsolete single hulled oil tankers is not as simple or easy as it might appear for the following reasons:

(1) Moving water from one U.S. port to another must be done with a Jones Act vessel.  This means U.S. flagged ships.  There are very few of this class of ship available.

 (2) The assumption that ships carrying water will require less personnel is difficult to justify.  It takes a fixed number of people to safely operate a ship at sea, even if it is empty.

 (3) The assumption that a ship carrying water will not spill oil if it is in collision with another ship is wrong.  All ships carry some form of fuel oil that could be spilled.  An undermanned water tanker could collide with an oil tanker, causing an oil spill.

 (4) In order to transport water in very large tankers, there must be very large port facilities to accommodate these large ships.  This will require special loading and discharging pipelines and flexible connections between a ship and a cityís water storage and distribution system.

 (5) A ship that could carry approximately 193 acre feet of water would have a draft of approximately sixty (60) feet.

The items listed above are only a few of the obvious pitfalls of tankering water in very large tankers compared to the alternative of using waterbag technology.

     Very truly,
     R. H. Brandenburger
    May 15, 1999

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