Ocean Cleanup steams out to sea in test run to clean Great Pacific Garbage Patch

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SAN FRANCISCO — Amid a flotilla of boats, drones and helicopters, the Ocean Cleanup machine, a system of lengthy drifting trash traps, was slowly was towed through San Francisco Bay beneath the Golden Gate Bridge and out to the open ocean Saturday afternoon.

The 2,000-foot long system was pulled by a large ship,bobbing in a bay full of sailboats, ferries and a few kayakers.

The hope is that the vessel, the first of a planned fleet or 60 or more, can strain out the millions of pounds of plastic trash that collects in slow-moving ocean whirlpools called gyres, which can be hundreds of miles across.

The ungainly watercraft starts out as a long line of linked floating booms – 2,000 feet of them – towed out from the dockyard where it’s been built in Alameda, across the bay from San Francisco. It motors under the Golden Gate Bridge and out to a testing area about 275 miles off the coast of California.

This odd vessel looks like a cross between an oil rig and a floating swimming pool and may help clean up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. USA TODAY

Once in place, the Ocean Cleanup, dubbed System 001, is deployed. The passive system’s floating series of connected booms naturally form into a broad U-shape. Below the booms, a 9-foot skirt gently corrals the plastic trash that contaminates our
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