Vice president Dan Quayle, heading home from his 12-day trip abroad, walked along an oil-soaked Alaska beach and told workers "it's going to be an enormous effort" to clean up the Prince William Sound.

"I've been very impressed with the number of people, the number of ships and the magnitude of the cleanup," Quayle said of efforts to remove oil the Exxon tanker Valdez spilled into waters off the scenic Alaska coast March 24.Quayle stopped here before flying Friday to Washington, where he was to brief President Bush at lunch on his 12-day trip to five Pacific and Asian nations, his second trip abroad for the administration.

He was to meet Alaska Gov. Steve Cowper, a Democrat, and more than a dozen mayors and representatives of native groups after midnight at Elmendorf Air Force Base before beginning the final leg of his trip.

Wearing orange coveralls, Quayle joined Transportation Secretary Samuel Skinner and Adm. Paul Yost, the Coast guard Commandant, late Thursday in a tour late Thursday of one of the areas most critically damaged by the 10 million gallons of crude dumped into the sound.

The vice president watched about 100 workers wearing oil-drenched slickers as they washed the sticky black fluid off rocks on this island reeking with the smell of petroleum.

He noted the slick has affected 300 miles of shoreline. "It's going to be an enormous effort," he said of the cleanup.

Quayle did not discuss specifics of the cleanup or criticism of efforts by Exxon, which has come under heavy fire for failing to move quickly and effectively.