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The ship is hard to miss.

The Taiwanese-flagged vessel appropriately dubbed 'A Whale' is three and a half football fields long and 10-stories high.

The world's largest skimming vessel is now anchored in the Mississippi River down in Boothville.

'It ought to be out there sucking up oil,' said Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser.

While the ship may be ready to work, it still has some bureaucratic hurdles to jump and tests to pass before the Coast Guard allows it to join the fight in the Gulf.

'The owners made an offer to bring it down at their expense and have it operate in the Gulf to see if it'd be effective,' said BP spill National Incident Commander Thad Allen. 'We have worked with epa and other agencies to give it a go and it's down in the area and will be ready to operate in a couple of days.'

The ship was originally designed as the world's largest super-tanker.

It was modified after the BP explosion to scoop up 21 million gallons of oily water per day.

A series of vents on both sides of the bow suck in the polluted liquid.

'We'll let it settle a little bit and hopefully it will decant off the oil and the water, much like you separate oil from gravy in your kitchen,' said Bob Grantham, spokesman for the vessel's owner TMT.

According to the Coast Guard, the government is anxious to board the super-skimmer to see if it would actually be an effective tool to pick up oil. But, like so many things during this oil spill response, the technology has never been tested in the open waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

'The only way we're going to find out is by putting the vessel down there and see what it can do,' said Grantham.

'The oil is only suitable for that type of collection within a few miles of the wellhead itself,' said Allen. 'That's when it comes up as a pretty good sized slick. it becomes disaggregated after that.'

Nungesser says it's time for 'A Whale' to pull up anchor and get to work.

'Somebody, rode up the road this morning they said, just think of all that oil we're picking up out of the marsh could be in that vessel. I said you're right. Instead, we got people out there slopping in this rain with vacuum cleaners. They just don't get it still.'

If the Coast Guard okays the vessel, the owner would still have to work out a deal with BP which is paying for the cleanup.

According to the vessel's owner, the ship's skimming capacity is at least 250-times that of the fishing boat fleet now conducting skimming operations in the Gulf.

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