PENSACOLA, Fla. (NNS) -- Workers at a staging area at Naval Air Station Pensacola (NASP) continued to prepare Thursday to set out booms if needed to help protect the shoreline and eco-system in the Pensacola area from last week's oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
"Hopefully it won't get to that point," said Lt. Michael Frost, port operations officer at NASP, as he walked around the Port Ops area Thursday morning.
The workers are responding to the potential aftermath from the April 20 British Petroleum/Transocean's Deepwater Horizon drilling rig incident in the Gulf. As of noon Thursday more than 1,000 people were involved on and off shore, with additional resources being mobilized as needed, according to a joint information center.
Naval Air Station Pensacola is one of five staging areas that have been set up from Louisiana to Florida. Other staging areas are in Biloxi and Pascagoula, Miss.; Venice, La.; and Theodore, Ala.
The NASP site is responsible for the area from the Alabama state line just west of the air station eastward along the shores of the Florida Panhandle, Frost said. "If this thing were to shift and move further to Tampa, they would pick all of this up and go there," Frost said.
Workers from multiple companies started arriving at NASP on Tuesday. About 200 hundred workers were at NASP by Thursday morning.
"We are one of many companies providing staff," said Tim O'Leary, a spokesman for O'Brien's Response Management in Houston. He referred questions about specific numbers at NASP to the joint information center that was responding to media calls.
Frost said this is the busiest the port operations department at NASP has been since Hurricane Ivan hit the Gulf Coast in 2004.
On the minds of many workers was whether the winds would pick up and shift to the Southeast. "Oil on top of the water moves as fast as the winds and the seas move," Frost said.
The booms are only effective at a knot-and-a-half, Frost said, adding the booms are intercoastal-type booms.
"NAS Pensacola is pleased to provide facilities for this support in case its needed," said Harry White, the public affairs office for the base.
For more news from Naval Air Station Pensacola, visit www.navy.mil/local/naspensacola.