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In previous posts, you saw photos of lots of oil/gas infrastructure, and two of this rig, Enterprise 351, here and here.

I said then I’d come back to this rig because it was the biggest I saw.    It was built in Quebec in 1982. 

Note the crewman walking on the rig below and to the left?  Here is a video of 351 departing Singapore on a semi-submersible, showing a drone’s eye angle. Here is a video of its arrival in the Gulf of Mexico two and a half years ago, and it’s afloat like a barge, not standing like a platform.  And here‘s one more, showing tugboats moving a rig away from a stack.

If I read this right, these three legs are each 477′, which at 14′ per story, is about equivalent to a 34-story building!

Accommodations onboard are for 81 crew.

This helideck is designed for a Sikorsky S-61 aircraft.  It only looks like a steaming caldron here.

I’m not sure what happens in all these spaces.

These draft marking only make sense when this rig is a 243′ x 200′ barge, not a platform. 

I suppose lifeboat drills are required with some frequency.

All photos, WVD, who hopes to get to a southern rig museums one of these months when they are open.  I tried to visit the one in Morgan City but it was closed that day.  Here’s one in Galveston.  Here’s a floating rig I saw in Brazil almost a decade ago.

 

As I suggested in yesterday’s post, Tampa Bay is a huge estuary.  It’s quite a busy port, as well.  On our way to refuel, we passed OSG Courageous and OSG 205.

Small container ships like Guadalupe seem to shuttle between Tampa, Progreso, and Panama City FL.  

I’d love to know the story of this laid-up fleet.  The only one I can identify here is Alex Chouest, foreground. 

In yesterday’s post, I pointed out that Lady Terea had been called Mr. Russell and worked in the sixth boro as the new TZ Bridge was being built.  Wherever it delivered those barges to, it was already back in Tampa for more.

 

Fleet Trader II took on cargo, and 

Xin Nan Sha (which might just translate as “new Nansha“) shuffled boxes. 

Endeavor is a ship-docking module, aka SDM.

A top-down view of this design can be found here

Our goal was this shrimp dock, which allowed us to crew change and refuel.  

Before I disembarked, I did notice a familiar barge beyond our berth.  Barge Tennessee last appeared on this blog here

All photos, WVD, who could post photos on my shore adventures, but I usually don’t.  All I can say is I’d love to go back and explore the Tampa area, Venice, and then certainly check out the big bend of the forgotten coast and more . . .  maybe Route 98.

 

The multi-colored lines here show the marathon between Pensacola and Crystal River, a shoreline that seemed endless and relatively featureless . . .  .  Each of the colored lines represents a day of travel.  I learned this part of Florida is called the “forgotten coast” or the “big bend of Florida.”  There may be other names, but the relative absence of settlement intrigues me.  On the other hand, with place names like Sumatra and Tate’s Hell Forest and Swamp, it may be inhospitable.  There’s even a song about Cebe Tate chasing a panther into that wilderness.

After a late departure from Pensacola, we were off the long Santa Rosa Island and its sugarwhite sand by nightfall.

Soon after we departed from Santa Rosa, we had the first heavy rain of the trip, but the storms

traveled fast and soon

we left them behind.

Remember in yesterday’s post I alluded to a contrast between LA-MS-AL (LAMSAL, a new acronym?) and FL waters?  What’s different?

Only everything:  no oil/gas infrastructure and very few boats of any type.  There was one boat, a sport fish, traveling at least three times the speed of Legs III and on a collision course until two sets of five blasts of our battery of air horns caused that boat to drop off plane and then sheepishly [I hope] take our stern.  I suspect the sport fish had all eyes on their lures and none on the wheel.   No, I won’t post their photo and name here.

Our next overnight was off Saint Andrew’s Park, Panama City. Notice the pads 11 feet down in that super clear water.

Beyond Panama City, inland fires suggest agriculture-related burns, but I’ve never traveled by road in that part of Florida.  Yet.

We gave Cape San Blas wide berth because of irregular shallows. The Cape was the site of Civil War activity and a whole series of lighthouses.

The chart said we had plenty of water, but the bands of lighter water suggested maybe we didn’t.  Ultimately, the chart proved itself correct.

AIS said the tug towing tandems was Lady Terea, a name that meant nothing to me until I searched a bit more and found that from 2014 until 2018, she worked in the sixth boro and North River as . . .

Mr. Russell.  Then she carried the livery of Tappan Zee Constructors.

That evening we spent jacked up off a remote area of St. George Island, the barrier beach that defines Apalachicola Bay.  More on the Apalachicola River here.

Seriously, we saw no other boats with the exception of the two I’ve mentioned.  I saw this mast in the distance, and an hour or so when we passed it, it was as minimal as the waters of Florida’s forgotten coast were untrafficked.

Then later, Lady Edwina passed us with a tandem tow;  the captain hailed us to ask where we were headed with Legs III.  He also said he’d started his career out working on liftboats.

A bit north of the mouth of the Crystal River,  I brought the drone as close to the wave tops as I dared to get this shot, hoping for a blinding glimpse of setting sun under the hull, but this is the result . . .   no blinding sun.

Morning showed a Dann Ocean boat and a large Express Marine barge.

Ocean Tower! it was.  

Tending another Express Marine barge was Consort, which I’d not seen for over a decade!

All photos, any errors,  WVD.

Day 3 shows up in green . . . from just west of Port Fourchon to just east of SW Pass.

We took the stern of C-Fighter on the way, as the ECO boat appeared to head into Fourchon. 

Surprising were the number of small fishing boats, out angling and 

even anchoring next to platforms;  certainly the structure and maybe some scraps serve as chum in a food chain here.

Here’s another shot of Fourchon Runner, which I mentioned in an earlier post about exotics.  Here I have questions:  doesn’t the center of this platform base look different than ones I’ve posted earlier?  To me, it’s thick like a massive tree trunk, not only tubular.  The platform itself supports more tanks than others.  What might those tanks contain?

One rig that caught my attention, because of the “steam” emanating from beneath, carried the nameplate Enterprise 205.  Some info, although not “more specs,” on this rig can be read here.  The 40-year-old rig appears to work at depths up to 200′.

For scale, note the two crew on the cantilevered helipad.

The network of valves of the red pipe would be the “Christmas tree,” I gather.  How or why is the Monrovia registry arrived at here?

Among the platforms were shrimp boats like this one.

As the day passed, the winds died and the GOM 

became like glass, reflecting big fluffy fair-weather clouds.  Not pictured but off to the left was a smudge of Grand Isle and low-lying borderlands to its east.

Serving as a steering guide, we looked at Enterprise 351 for what seemed an endless time, punctuated only by the occasional dolphins.  I’ll devote an entire post to 351 one of these days.

Once in West Bay, we left rigs and associated vessels like Randolph John to our right and 

watched ships moving up and down the Mississippi to our left.  

The pilot’s station was visible, but my “all-zoomed-out” photo was embarrassingly blurry.  For a better view, click here.

We crossed–not entered–the Southwest Pass, the longtime and anticlimactic main Mississippi shipping channel. See the jetties?

From the south, Carnival Glory was arriving to take on a pilot for a dawn arrival in New Orleans.  If I were a passenger on that ship, I’d be disappointed to be passing this 70+ mile stretch of the big river at night.

To the west, a stunning sunset evolved, and to

the northwest, Carnival Glory ensured that it was visible–and then some–in the channel.

“Legs down” in the shallows of East Bay, this was my final shot of day 3.

Allphotos, any errors, WVD.

 

Technically we were out of the bayous once we entered the Atchafalaya on day 1.  Ever wonder the derivation of the word “bayou”?  It’s Choctaw for “sluggish watercourse,” and there was not much sluggish about the Atchafalaya. While on word/place name derivations, “atchafalaya” is Choctaw for “long river.”

On the annotated map below, red shows roughly our track day 1, orange is day 2, and green is day 3.  After day 1 we were no longer in inland watercourses. 

Call it near coastal, or call it pelican waters, as contrasted with alligator and egret waters.

Or call it wellhead waters.  Note all the pelicans residing on this platform marked TalosSS110A.  Talos Energy is a significant oil/gas company in the GOM.

From charts, I surmise the floor of the GOM is crisscrossed with much more infrastructure than appears on the surface, and the number of platforms of various designs was too many for me to count.  Granted, companies like Talos and Cox, not exactly household names although associated with the oil/gas industry, have departments to quantify every last item out here.  Click here to see a hint of that subsea infrastructure for just one company;  note that it’s interactive.

Crew of all skills levels get shuttled around in crew boats to platforms and lift boats.

No matter where you gaze, you see infrastructure.

 

Crew also shuttles in and out on helicopters.

Those appear to be a number of christmas trees on the lower left portion of this platform.

As day 2 wore on, we passed these laid up aka “cold stacked” drill platforms, although not close enough to read any names/writing on them.  Might they be, and I’m quoting here from someone who knows more than I do, “seven or so former HERCULES jackups (which, in fact, have never been officially renamed as ENTERPRISE)  that match these perfectly:  six Bethlehem units (one of which has no derrick because she was last used for production) and one lattice–legged unit, matching the sole Marathon-LeTourneau rig on their list, HERCULES 150.  [Check out the first six minutes of this 1980s film to understand some of the features].

These elderly shallow-water jackups are dinosaurs and have trouble finding work in the best of times.  They probably were cold-stacked about 10 years ago as oilfield slowed down, and between antiquation and corrosion, would only be reactivated in a real windfall.” 

“Lattice legged” I understand, but can someone explain the “screw” tip legs to the right, which must be Bethlehem Steel built? 

As darkness fell, we “legged” down south of the Timbalier Islands, Terrebonne Parish,  east of the mothballed rigs, and

southwest of Port Fourchon, aka Fourchon, where I’ve visited twice. Fourchon is so low-lying that even from just a few miles off, it seemed like nothing more than skyglow.  I’ve not been back there after Hurricane Ida hit last summer.

  Port Fourchon was little more than mosquito lands until 1960. 

All photos and any errors, WVD.   Many thanks to a modest but “somewhat trusty expert” [his nomenclature] for some explanation of the function of oil/gas infrastructure.  As I post more such photos, I’m hoping more experts will weigh in.

Here’s a 2010 photo essay of rig work from the Houston Chronicle, and another from CNN  here showing work conditions on a rig in the GOM. 

Before you read this post, you might enjoy studying a Google map satellite view of the area between Port of Iberia and Atchafalaya Bay, about 80 miles away.  Locate Lafayette and then zoom in and go to the SE.  Bays, islands, bayous, and lakes abound.  Soon after we made the eastbound turn onto the GICW, we met fishing vessel Isabella and another dredge. 

x

Around the dredge, some makeshift markers indicated something, maybe not intended for us to know.

Disused infrastructure made up parts of the boundary between the GICW and Weeks Bay.  I plan a post soon on energy infrastructure I saw and have received some help understanding.

Port of Memphis ACBL tug Capt Doug Wright steamed eastbound here alongside some Morton Salt/American Mine Services infrastructure along the GICW at Weeks Island.  It appears Weeks Island may have a ghost town . . ..

We overtook them and had this view of  another view of the mostly covered barges.

A few feet of clearance allowed us passage under the 75′ clearance of the Route 319 bridge for the road to Cypremort Point.

We met LBT tug Clair S. Smith.

Compass Minerals-owned, Morgan City-built  cable ferry Tripper III crosses between

the mainland and Cote Blanche Island.

USCG 75′ tug Axe, based in Morgan City LA, is one of eight 75′ WLIC boats.

Periodically, I sit drinking ice water and looking out the galley door at the forbidding banks.

Triple S Marine’s lugger tug Stephen L is a 1200 hp tug based in Morgan City.

Cullen Landolt from Tuscaloosa AL pushes westbound in the ditch.

LBT’s Dickie Gonsoulin waits in a cove adjacent to what I believe is the Birla Carbon plant in Centerville LA.   It produces carbon black, a product that among other things makes tires black.

Kirby tug Steve Holcomb pushes barges Kirby 28045 and 

28075 toward the west.

Without my listing all these boats or posting all the photos of boats I took that afternoon . . .  I hope you conclude that the GICW west of Morgan City is a busy corridor.

At the intersection just before Morgan City, we turned south, leaving the GICW for the Atchafalaya River, where we had real depths in the channel between 105′ and 5′, which briefly had us aground.  Fast crew boat Kervie B comes up the Atchafalaya River from the Bay.

Nowhere on this shrimp boat could I find a name.   Also, among all these traditional designs, I’m not sure how to call this one;  Lafitte skiff or Atchafalaya skiff or something else?

As dusk approached and we followed the channel out, we met Marcella G. Gondran heading up the Atchafalaya with what appeared to be major pieces of a dismantled platform.

As we headed into a windy evening out on the Bay, we followed this vegetation where no settlement is possible.

Before “legging down” at the end of the first day of the journey, we studied the buoys and waited for the green flash. 

The next morning good calm weather allowed me to do the first in a series of selfie drone shots.  More of those in future posts.

All photos and any errors, WVD.  These photos show fewer than half the boats we saw that day.  If you are interested in more tugs from that section of the waterway, please let me know.

With all the references to Morgan City in this post, you might want to go back to this December post (and scroll) to see how Christmas is marked in Morgan City.

 

 

 

“I am the Manager of the Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve.  The reserve comprises some 18,000 acres of estuary and other coastal habitat, right on the Gulf, obviously under great risk should the oil make it to our shoreline.  Massive effort has developed plans to help deter the oil from reaching shore, using burning, dragging, and extensive booming.  The entire perimeter of the Grand Bay NERR is boomed, as are several interior inlets.  Though, I hope we do not have to count on the fifteen miles of booms.

Over the past several weeks my staff has been busy documenting the current conditions of the reserve, sampling fishes, seagrasses, emergent marshes, water quality, sediments, fish tissue, birds, invertebrates, diamondback terrapins and extensively photographing the shoreline and marshes.  I work for the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources and have spent several days working at the Mobile, AL Unified Command Center helping make plans  for protection of the shoreline and for cleanup as needed.  So far most of mainland Mississippi has been spared, though debris and many tar-balls are washing ashore on our barrier islands which are part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore.

Like with many issues, the media is playing a major role in driving our thinking on this.  They want numbers and dramatic pictures.  After this weekend’s [top kill] failure, the mood of the coast is gloomy.  Residents, businesses and local governments are downright angry and mostly helpless.  So much of the economy of the entire Gulf region depends upon the water and between oil and dispersant, how long will it be fouled?  There are just so few answers to this whole mess.

The biggest shame is that this drilling technology that allows us to drill at these depths apparently has outpaced our abilities to address catastrophic failures in the system at these depths.  The people involved in planning have been hopeful that something would work to stop the gusher, but now if we can only count of the relief wells in August to maybe stop this, how can we stop it from fouling the entire Gulf.  And what will tropical weather add to the formula?

The beaches can be cleaned with relative ease, though oil could continue washing ashore for months.  However, the marshes are a different matter:   cleanup of vegetated, muddy areas will be next to impossible to clean.  The toxicity of the oil should be somewhat less as it weathers for weeks before getting here, but we really do not know what that means for the plants and animals.  We are about 130 miles due north of the Deepwater Horizon well site.  (As of June 1) no oil has been within 30 miles of the MS coast.

[This is a family affair:  My wife] works in Pascagoula, MS at the National Seafood Inspection Laboratory for NOAA, determining what seafood is safe for consumption and what federal areas of the Gulf should be open or closed to harvest.”

Dave Ruple, the writer of the piece above, is a high school friend who moved to coastal Missisippi after college.  Bienville Animal Medical Center is located in Ocean Springs, MS.

The sign below hangs near the St. Claude Avenue Bridge at the mouth of the Industrial Canal in New Orleans and has nothing to do with the oil spill.

The Bridge has an integrated lock structure.  My niece living in New Orleans (100 + miles from the Gulf)  has sent me these two pics.  Thanks, Carly.

Here is a set oil-spill related links:

General EPA facts about the Gulf of Mexico (GOM)

See a GOM leakometer.

Thoughts from Scientific American on duration/effects of the oil spill.

Oil Spill Crisis Map

NYTimes slideshow of president of Plaquemines Parish

Official site of Deepwater Horizon Response

What has been the evolution of BP the company?

What if this spill had happened in Nigeria?

How many sperm whales live in the GOM?

A self-described “non-green” person’s reaction to the ongoing gusher.

Safe to say . . . this is one lardaceous mess that’s only growing.

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