At the Deepwater Horizon disaster site
[I mourn the passing of Sen. Robert Byrd, and will post some recollections of the senator later today.]
The view from the chopper. This shot doesn't capture how many ships are within 5 miles. On the bridge of the Development Driller II the radar showed 64 ships not counting the DDII.
The Q4000, flaring oil and gas non-stop. I was told it's so hot on deck that the crew aren't allowed outside for more than one minute at a time.
When we landed on the rig, John Antoine, a roustabout, wearing a fire suit, stood by with a water cannon. He's 36, from Lafayette, La.. "If the helicopter catches on fire, I would use the water to put out the fire," he said. I asked if he was hot in that fire suit. "I'm trying to lose a couple pounds," he said.
Chris Wokowsky, the Offshore Installation Manager, also known as the boss for Transcocean on this rig. The derrick rising above him is 228 feet tall.
Captain Matt Michalski is the rig's master, and a surfer dude in San Diego when he's not out in the middle of the gulf.
Drillpipe above the drilling deck, heavy stuff. There's a lot of hardware in this place. No one has to remind you to wear a hardhat.
The moon pool. The pipe in rear is the riser from the well 5100 feet below.
What it's all about: Oil in the water.
Lots of it.
From Mudge, a primer on the ships mentioned in the story:
835 feet long (a tad shorter than an Iowa-class battleship, a bit longer than any aircraft carrier of World War II). Can accommodate a crew of up to 200 people.
Built by Astano, in Spain. Can operate in winds to 80 knots and waves to 40 feet. Can ride out a storm to 100 knots and waves to 50 feet (according to design specs).
Can accommodate helicopter up to a Sikorsky S-61 Sea King or a Boeing CH-47 Chinook size. (The Presidential helicopter is basically an S-61, though it goes by a different designation.)
Main propulsion is diesel-electric, the same as virtually every submarine built between 1900 and 1960, and same as the new Queen Mary II: diesel engines that drive generators that drive electric motors. In this case, four 9,772 hp engines that drive six 8,700 kva 11,000v generators that power six 7,000 hp thrusters drawing 5,500kw, at 1,260 volts AC.
Owned by Transocean, registered in the Marshall Islands, so that's whose flag she flies.
Essentially a mobile platform on two pontoons each 312 feet long by 42.7 feet wide by 26.6 feet deep. It is 97 feet from the bottom of the pontoon to the top of the weather deck, meaning the main deck. She has a crew of 71 and can house up to 63 additional people (the clients, etc.)
She is powered by six diesel engine generator sets of 3,520 kW each that drive four aft thrusters and two forward thrusters, each of 2,900 kW at 900 rpm.
Helicopter pad can take a Sikorsky S-61. Four 70-person lifeboats and 8 25-person liferafts. Two water-makers can make up to 6,600 gallons a day.
A U.S. flag vessel owned by Cal Dive Int'l and operated by Helix Energy Solutions.
Development Driller II
The Wiki entry is better than Transocean's: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Development_Driller_II
Built by PPL Shipyard in Singapore and flag registered in Vanuatu, but owned by Transocean.
380 feet by 283 feet. Propelled by 8 thrusters of 4,300 hp each. Has crew capacity for 176.
Development Driller III
Here's a photo that shows the Development Driller III in the foreground, the Q4000 (red pontoons) in the middle, and the Discoverer Enterprise beyong her, surrounded by supply ships and tenders. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Development-driller-3.jpg
Built by Keppel AmFELS in Singapore. Flag is registered in Vanuatu. Owned by Transocean.
384 feet by 256 feet. Powered by eight Caterpillar Model 3616 diesel engine/generator sets.
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