Tanker catastrophes like the sinking of the “Erika” off the coast of Brittany and the “Prestige” off the coast of Spain revealed the shortcomings of existing oil combating systems to operate in open seas during severe weather. This paper presents various oil recovery systems of the German oil combating fleet and an analysis of their associated hydrodynamic problems. Design improvements for increasing operability and efficiency of oil recovery systems are proposed, taking advantages and drawbacks of existing oil recovery vessels into account. A new design concept is applied to the development of a Seaway Independent Oil Skimmer (SOS), which is presently being investigated at TU Berlin. A skimming module based on a new working principle enables the future generation of oil recovery vessels to operate in rough sea states. To evaluate the new oil-skimming system numerical simulations are conducted for a wide spectrum of operating conditions. The results are confirmed by experimental investigation including oil layers.

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