Oil containment boom reels are the fastest and most efficient means for storage, deployment and recovery of longer lengths of boom. Most of our reels have the ability to free-wheel to speed up deployment. Our boom reels may be hydraulic or manually operated and are suitable for both inflatable boom and some models of foam flotation boom.
The Story of American Marine Inc.
It was 1967 in Cocoa, Fla., when the late Jim Pearce, a highly decorated World War II U.S. fighter ace-turned-test pilot (and the first person to break the sound barrier flying an F-86), formed a new company to help control water pollution – American Marine, Inc. An early innovator in the development of oil containment booms, fire booms and turbidity curtains, Jim wrote about the company’s accomplishments in his autobiography, “A 20th Century Guy,” published in 2007.
“A longtime associate and I joined forces, and with the assistance of my son, Jeff, and a couple of kids from the neighborhood, we formed American Marine Inc.,” he wrote. The plan was to build Hull Guards, a device used to help small boat owners keep the bottom of their vessels free of barnacles—at a reasonable cost.
Jim enjoyed a fascinating life. He was a U.S. Navy pilot during WWII and spent 16 years in experimental flight testing. That was followed by six years’ involvement in the Apollo Lunar Landing Program where he was director of test operations for the manufacturer’s command and service modules.
Oil Containment Boom
“To add to the line of anti-pollution devices we made at American Marine, I spent my time there designing and developing new products, as well as the tools to build them.” An oil spill in nearby Port Canaveral, Fla. led to the development of the company’s first oil containment boom, which outperformed a rival and led to bigger things.
“I got busy designing a real version of an oil boom which would retain the good features of the prototype but be designed from the start as an oil boom,” he wrote. The American Marine shop was redesigned, and the company bought its first electronic heat sealing machine “to take the place of all the gluing of seams.”
An extruded aluminum quick-connect system was developed to join lengths of oil boom together (and it survives as one of two industry-wide standards today).
Because Jim’s boom worked well, competitors copied it, proving once again that, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,” in the words of Oscar Wilde.
The business was doing well when, in 1971, Jim was asked by a State of Florida environmental engineer to develop a product to contain the silt being stirred up in an Atlantic Coast river by a bridge construction project.
“Sure we can,” he replied while noting that at the time he didn’t really have any knowledge of the problem or solution. But soon the first turbidity control curtains made their appearance, much to the delight of the environmental community.
From Water Beds to Baffles
Other situations arose requiring fabric welding, and Jim and American Marine Inc. teamed up again and again to find solutions. One of the solutions was manufacturing water beds, but there were a few problems.
“People were becoming seasick as their mates moved about, bouncing them up and down,” he wrote. “In the worst cases, heavy husbands (or wives) were bouncing fragile wives (or husbands) completely out of bed when they turned over during the night.”
American Marine’s involvement in that industry eventually came to an end, but then “We stumbled into quite a lucrative business making floating baffle systems to improve the efficiency of water treatment ponds at sewage treatment plants and other sites,” Jim wrote.
Elastec Acquires American Marine Inc.
“We were approached by Elastec, based in Carmi, Ill., a manufacturer of oil spill recovery equipment, and the inventor of the oleophilic drum oil skimmer. They expressed an interest in buying American Marine.” Talks led to an agreement and Elastec officially acquired American Marine Inc. The surviving corporation was called Elastec/American Marine, Inc. Today, the company is under one name, Elastec.
Jim Pearce died in 2011, but his legacy of innovation and environmental concern survives him. Jeff Pearce, Jim’s son, remains associated with the company today.
Fifty years after American Marine was formed, it remains an integral part of the Elastec mission of “keeping the world clean” with an array of floating containment booms, trash and debris barriers, turbidity curtains, oil skimmer systems, work boats, portable incinerators and vacuum equipment in use in 155 countries.