Agence France-Presse
July 6, 2010

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A US Navy airship was en route to the Gulf Coast on Monday to help recover the massive oil spill fouling once-pristine shorelines, officials said.

The MZ-3A Airship, the first to be used in the massive response to the worst environmental disaster in US history, was expected to reach the Gulf Coast on Tuesday, depending on weather conditions, the Joint Unified Command overseeing the efforts said in a statement.

It will detect oil, direct skimming vessels and look for wildlife that may be threatened by oil from a mooring three miles (4.8 kilometers) from the Mobile Bay shoreline in Alabama.

The aircraft presents several advantages over helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft, including being cheaper to operate and being able to stay aloft longer, up to 12 hours.

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