The Office of Naval Research (ONR) of the U.S. Navy awarded a $2,060,000.00 contract to the naval architectural and analysis firm, MH Systems, Inc. (San Diego, California) for the test and validation of the American Underpressure System (AUPS) on a tanker of the Ready Reserve Fleet. AUPS was conceived in 1989 as a means of virtually eliminating oil spills from tankers involved in accidents. The system modifies existing crude oil tankers so that their vulnerability to cargo loss is significantly reduced.
The AUPS creates a slight vacuum in the inerted ullage space above the oil within the tanks of an oil tanker, and dynamically controls this negative pressure and maintains inertness throughout the voyage. In the event of rupture(s), the pressure forces are balanced at the rupture location to prevent or minimize any outflow of oil.
Mo Husain, President of MH Systems and developer of the AUPS states that the replacement of the world tanker fleet by a completely new fleet having double hulls will require enormous investment and many years of construction effort. While this takes place, environmentally unsafe tankers will continue to operate and accidents will inevitably occur. The Congress therefore mandated and funded a validation test of the AUPS System.
According to Mr. Husain, the capability of AUPS to reduce spillage of oil in tanker accidents is in statistical terms, an approximate 65 % average reduction in outflow - about the same as that of a double hull. With appropriate engineering completed in advance, the AUPS could be retrofitted on an existing tanker in about a week.