Vessels of Opportunity

The Vessels of Opportunity program was a way for BP to provide some income to local residents outside of a formal claims process. Through the program, BP employed private vessels to conduct response efforts such as skimming, booming, and transporting supplies. Vessels of opportunity made between $1,200 and $3,000 per day, depending on the size of the boat. Individual crew members made $200 for an eight-hour day.

Residents and local officials complained that BP was not sufficiently targeting out-of-work fishermen at whom the program was directed and that wealthy or non-local boat owners were taking advantage of poor oversight to gain spots in the program.

In response, the State of Louisiana began its own program, as as did several local governments. The Unified Command struggled to coordinate this floating militia of independent vessels and to give them useful response tasks. Having hundreds of vessels look for oil did not contribute significantly to the response, because aircraft were more effective at spotting oil. Placing boom requires skill and training, and responders differed in their judgments of how much the vessels contributed.