Abstract Over the past nine years, the US Coast Guard has incorporated the prevention through people (PTP) philosophy as a “human factors” approach to learn how maritime operations can be regulated safer and be more efficient by evaluating training, management policies, operational procedures, and establishing partnerships with the maritime industry. One of the key elements of applying a PTP approach is identifying and incorporating lessons learned from major marine casualties and pollution incidents. Since 1997, the US Coast Guard National Strike Force has responded to three major oil spills involving foreign freight vessels grounding, which included the removal of highly viscous oil using various lightering equipment and systems. An informal workgroup consisting of the US Coast Guard, US Navy Supervisor of Salvage (NAVSUPSALV), and various representatives from oil pollution clean-up companies met at the following facilities: the Chevron Asphalt Facility in Edmonds, WA (September 1999), the Oil and Hazardous Materials Simulated Environmental Test Tank (OHMSETT) testing facility in Leonardo, New Jersey (November 1999 and March 2000), the Alaska Clean Seas (ACS) warehouse annex in Prudhoe Bay, AK (October 2000), and Cenac Towing Company facility in Houma, LA (May 2002). The group shared ideas and techniques, and tested different pumps and hose lengths with viscous oil. It was during the early tests that the first quantitative results showed just how efficient lubricated transport of heavy oil product could be, and broadened the knowledge of such methods to the entire industry. Although this technology had existed for many years in the oil production and handling industry, its use had never been investigated in a laboratory setting with regard to salvage response lightering systems.