Emergence incident: Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill that occurred on 20 April of the year 2010 was the most detrimental in the history of the US. To begin with, the British Petroleum’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico caused the disaster. The disaster led to 11 deaths, several injuries, and also released millions of gallons of crude oil to the gulf for more than 88 days which affected the aquatic life negatively (Repanich, 2010). The mistake of the BP oil caused the spilling of the oil. Also, the disaster brought pressure to the company, which ended up paying hefty fines as a settlement after pleading guilty to several charges from the US department of justice.

Deepwater Horizon oil spill

In regards to the information given, the responders managed to follow the incident command system (ICS). The system was used in the BP oil incident through the unified command for coordinating. The BP handling of the oil spill will go down in history on how to make a situation worse through ineffective communication (Repanich, 2010). There was no transparency as well as sensitivity to the victims and the possible impact of the oil which worsened the situation. For instance, it took several attempts to control the spread of the oil. In regards to this, BP should consider doing a plan for disaster recovery for adequate preparation before anything uncertain occurs.

Command and control process

Immediately after the occurrence of the incident, both command and control tasks had to be assigned to the people who were close to the event and with adequate knowledge to make informed decisions on tactics. However, the corporation of the diverse groups tasked to manage the issue became a major challenge for the people managing offshore duties. For instance, the corporation of all air operations was placed under central air branch in the response department to solve issues such as the “near misses” and carry out other tasks. Fortunately, after several attempts, the team of respondents controlled the disaster.

Role of incident commander

The National Incident Commander Thad Allen gave operational updates on the Deepwater Horizon Oil spillage response. The commander provided a briefing to inform the US citizens and respond to the questions on the progress of the administration-wide response to the disaster. For instance, he discussed the progress in connecting the Helix producer to the floating riser pipe and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) monitoring of weather patterns in the Gulf of Mexico and its significant impact on the clean-up operations and the condition of the plan to replace the existing containment cap. Therefore, the primary purpose of the incident commander was to head the control of the oil spill. 

Span of control

A span of control is the number of subordinates who are under the direct control of a manager or director (Wong et al., 2015). During the time of the BP oil spill, the space of command and control was not good enough to handle a crisis of such magnitude. The spans of control attained in the high number of respondents under a single supervisor brought about a lot of issues, especially in management. With the incident control system (ICS), an individual under an incident administration supervisory role should range between three to eight assistants to maintain answerability in such a disaster that demand informed decisions. The number of assistance within the range results to an effective response team.


Repanich, J. (2010). The Deepwater Horizon spill by the numbers. Popular Mechanics, 10.

Wong, C. A., Elliott‐Miller, P., Laschinger, H., Cuddihy, M., Meyer, R. M., Keatings, M., … & Szudy, N. (2015). Examining the relationships between a span of control and manager job and unit performance outcomes. Journal of nursing management, 23(2), 156-168.