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"Overlooking Runway 25 - Right, at Los Angeles International Airport"

"Lost Horizons"

The Loss of SSV Deepwater Horizon

Disaster In The Gulf of Mexico

Feature Date: April 29 2010

Event Date: April 22 2010

Countryman & McDaniel

 The Air & Ocean Logistics- Customs Broker & Hull Attorneys

International Trade Consultants

"Overlooking Runway 25 - Right, at Los Angeles International Airport"

On The Scene -- In The Gulf of Mexico

 A 2010 Countryman & McDaniel

Cargo Nightmare Prize Contender

INDEX To The Lost Horizons Feature

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May 5 2010 - How It Happened - From The Crew

May 21 2010 - Apology To Our Readers

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Other Great Disasters of our Time

The Cargo Letter Photo Gallery of Transport Loss - Items Below Are Only A Sample

"Getting Gil?" - M/V Ady Gil & High Seas Adventure - Feb. 7 2010

"Bear Eats Cub" - Jan. 30 2010

"Life & Death At Port -au-Prince" - Jan. 12 2010

"Royal Air Flight 988 Down - But Why?" - Jan. 5 2010

"Miracle At Kingston" - Dec. 31 2009

"Did You Hear That?" - Dec. 26 2009

"Star Crossed" - JDS Kurama - Dec. 1 2009

"General Motors Increases Training" - Nov. 28 2009

"Singapore Sling" - M/V MSC Kalina - Nov. 12 2009

"Road Warrior" - Important Moments In Transport History - Nov. 2009

"The Bridge On The River Shetrumji" - India Road Trip - Nov. 2009

"Make 25 Knots, Then Sit" - M/V Marko Polo - Nov. 2009

"Reefer Madness" - M/V Vega Gotland - Oct. 2009

"Meet Me At The Roundabout" - M/V MCS Nikita - Sept. 2009

"Auckward Straddle" - Sept. 2009

"Death of M/V Ioannis N.V." - August 2009

"Big Bunch 'O Black Barges - Beached" - Barge Margaret

"Walvis Wollover" - June 2009

"Pacific Mis-Adventure" - May 2009

"MV Maersk Alabama - 206 Year Deja Vu" - April 2009

"The Retaking of M/V Maersk Alabama" - April 2009

"Miracle At Schiphol" - Flight TK 1951 - March. 2009

"Do Not Chill" - FedEx life with the ATR-42 - March. 2009

"Miracle On The Hudson" - Flight 1549 - Jan. 2009

"The Attack On M/V Zhen Hua 4" - Dec. 2008

"The Taking of MT Biscaglia" - Jan. 2009

"M/V Ciudad de Ushuaia Stuck At The Pole" - Dec. 2008

"The Taking of M/T Sirius Star" - Somalia Pirates Take Supertanker - Stakes Raised - Nov.- Jan. 2008

"Fedra Backs In" - Death of M/V Fedra" - Oct. 2008

"Tank You, From The Somali Pirates" - Somalia - M/V Faina - Sept.- Jan. 2009

"The Death of Hercules" - Nov. 2008

"JAXPORT Jumble" - August 2008

"Callsign Connie: 44 Tragic Days" - July 2008

"Too Little Runway - Too Much Plane" - TACA Flt 390 - June 2008

"Recurring Dream" - M/V Norwegian Dream - May 2008

"Paradise & Pirates" - S/V Le Ponant - April 2008

"The Light At The End of The Tunnel" - M/V Zhen Hua 10 & 23 - Mar. 2008

"Mess At Manzanillo" - M/V CMA CGM Dahlia - Mar. 2008

"Big Battered Banana Boat" - M/V Horncliff - Feb. 2008

"Back To The Beach" - M/V Riverdance - Feb. 2008

"Glider Operations At Heathrow" -- B-777 Crash - Jan. 2008

"Fighting Fires On Mars"- Martin Mars - Dec. 2007

"Steeplechase"- A340 - Nov. 2007

"Explorer Ship Down" - M/V Explorer - Nov. 2007

"Kwanyang Crane Kaboom" - Nov. 2007

"Den Den Done" - M/V Denden - Sept. 2007

"For The "L" of It" - M/V Action Alpha - August 2007

"Stack Attack!" - M/V Ital Florida - July 2007

"Pepito Flores Did Not Need To Die " - OUR INVESTIGATION RESULTS

"Riding Down The Marquis" - M/V Rickmars Dalian - June2007

"Carrying Coal To Newcastle" - M/V Pasha Bulker - June 2007

"Between A Yacht & A Hard Place" M/V Madame Butterfly - May 2007

"Boxing Up The Rhine" M/V Excelsior - April 2007

"Best Worst Laid Plans?" M/V Republica di Genoa - March 2007

"Crack'n On The Sidmouth" - M/V MSC Napoli - Jan. 2007 - Disaster In Real Time

"Full Speed Ahead" - M/V Alva Star - Nov. 2006

"Where The Trade Winds Blew" - Oct. 2006

"Singles Only" -- Our One Photo Disasters

These Are Only Examples

"Maersk Montevideo Melee!" - M/V Leda Maersk - Oct. 2006

"Laying Down On The Job" - M/V Cougar Ace -- Aug. 2006 -- Amazing !

"Vine Ripened Tires" - M/V Saga Spray -- May 2006 -- Amazing !

"Mis-Fortune" - M/V Hyundai Fortune - March 2006

"Scheldt Snafu!" - M/V Grande Nigeria - Feb. 2006

"A Day A The Beach - M/V APL Panama - Jan. 2006 - OUR EPIC COVERAGE

"NO Rails" - destruction of New Orleans - Dec. 2005

"Backhaul !" - for July 2005

"The Boeing Tri-Motor" - for April 2005

"Catch of The Day" - for March 2005

"One Brick Short of A Runway" - for Jan. 2005

"Taichung Tumble" - May 2009

"World's Most Stupid Pirates" - May 2009

"LAX Lunch Deja Vu" - May 2009

M/T Vicuna Explodes - for Jan. 2005

"Unstacked" - overboard & Dr. Beach - Nov. 2004

"Coal Face" - the cargo was danger - July 2004

"Super Loss" - March 2004

"On A Wing & A Prayer" - Jan. 2004

"Stepping In It" - Dec. 2003

"Angel Fire" - Nov. 2003

"Broken Spirit" - M/V Tasman Spirit - Aug. 2003

"Denise & Polargo" - a love story - July 2003

"Columbia River Round Up" - June 2003

"Keel Hualed" - M/V Hual Europe - May 2003

"Thrice Bitten" -- M/V Tricolor - Jan. 2003

"Ramp-Age" - Feb. 2003

"Piñata" - breaking the box - Jan. 2003

"Halifax Hash"--M/V Maersk Carolina - Jan. 2003

"Thar She Blows!" - M/V Hanjin Pennsylvania - Nov. 2002

"T-E-U Bar-Be-Cue" - aftermath of M/V Hanjin Pennsylvania

"Container Pool" - a mystery - May 2002

"Strangers On My Flight" -- by Frank Sinatra - don't blame us - we only report this stuff!

"Dropping In On The Trucker" - it happened again - April 2002

"UNDER Achiever" - tell your friends ! - March 2002

Tell It To The U.S. Marines! - A Symbol of Our Day of Infamy - Sept. 11

Heavy Metal - lifting the un-liftable object - Disaster at Monrovia July 2001

Rail Mate -- an Egyptian rail loss - Tragedy At Ain Sokhna July 2001

Meals: Ready To Explode - Navy container barbecue at Guam! June 2001

America West Kisses Concrete M/V Ville De Orion - stack shift at LAX

U.S. Navy EP- 3 -- China Hostage Situation - Spring 2001

Attack On USS Cole (DDG-67) - - Dramatic Photos!

M/V OOCL America - Feb. 2000

M/V APL China - world's greatest container disaster - Nov. 1998

M/V New Carissa - the ship that would not die - 1999

M/V Tampa Maersk "on a dock diet"

Hanjin's Bad Stab - Under The Dock At Pusan, Korea - Exclusive Photo!

The Complete Cargo Letter Photo Gallery of Transport Loss




"Lost Horizons"

The Loss of SSV Deepwater Horizon

On The Scene In The Gulf of Mexico

April 22 2010

The SSV Deepwater Natilus -- Sister of The SSV Deepwater Horizon

They Are Modern Marvels - They Are Ships - Not Platforms

- In Better Days For This Rig Type

A Cargo Nightmare Prize Contender

The Date: April 22 2010

The Time: About 5:20 PM & After

The Place: In The Gulf of Mexico

SSV Deepwater Horizon
SSV Deepwater Horizon

Name: Deepwater Horizon

Owner: Transocean

Operator: Transocean

Port of registry: Majuro

Route: Gulf of Mexico

Ordered: December 1998

Builder: Hyundai Heavy Industries

Cost: US$350M

Laid down: 21 March 2000

Completed: 2001

Acquired: 23 February 2001

Maiden voyage: Ulsan, Korea&endash;Freeport, Texas

Out of service: 2010 (exploded)

Identification: IMO 8764597, Call V7HC9

Fate: Exploded

Status: Sunk

Name: Deepwater Horizon

Class and type: American Bureau of Shipping

Tonnage: 32,588 tons

Displacement: 52,587 tons

Length: 112 meters

Beam: 78 meters

Height: 97.4 meters

Draught: 23.0 meters

Depth: 41.5 meters

Installed power: 42 MW

Propulsion: Diesel electric

Speed: 4 kts

Crew: 146

Notes: 8,202 ton Variable Deck Load,

DP Class 3, 8 thrusters,

10,000 ft drilling water depth


There has been a monumental oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Gulf oil rigs have had an impeccable safety record for decades. Despite the fury of Hurricane Katrina, not one -- of thousand -- Gulf oil rigs caused an oil leak.

But one Gulf rig SSV Deepwater Horizon caught fire & exploded in April 2010.

Contrary to popular belief SSV Deepwater Horizon is not a fixed drilling platform -- she was a ship capable of 4 knots speed. SSV Deepwater Horizon would deploy over a drilling site and then use use GPS to hover over the well site.

SSV Deepwater Horizon was a fifth generation, RBS-8D design ultra-deepwater dynamic positioned column-stabilized semi-submersible drilling rig, which drills wells in the floor of the sea, while other types of rigs are used to produce oil from the completed wells. The rig was 396 feet (121 m) long and 256 feet (78 m) wide and according to Billy Nungesser, the president of Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana, was "one of the largest, deep water, off-shore drilling rigs." It could operate in waters up to 8,000 feet (2,400 m) deep,[10] and had a maximum drill depth of 30,000 feet (9,100 m). The rig could accomodate up to 146 crew members. The semisubmersible rig was floated to the drilling location; it had pontoons and four columns that partially submerged when the rig was ballasted down to drilling air gap. The rig was not supported by the sea floor but its pontoons sat under the water.

SSV Deepwater Horizon worked on BP's Mississippi Canyon Block 252, referred to as the Macondo prospect. The rig was last located 50 miles (80 km) off the southeast coast of Louisiana. In October 2009 BP extended the contract for Deepwater Horizon by three years, to begin in September 2010. The lease contract was worth US$544M, a rate of US$496,800 per day. But in April 2010 there was about a new and unexpected overhead expense.

SSV Deepwater Horizon was in the final phases of drilling a well in which casing is cemented in place, reinforcing the well. This is a delicate process as there is the possibility of a blowout, the uncontrolled release of formation fluids from the well. On April 20, 2010, an explosion occurred on the rig and it caught fire.

On April 22 2010 at about 5 PM there was a rare & dramitic explosion..........


April 21 -- SSV Deepwater Horizon Threaten The Gulf

SSV Deepwater Horizon Ablaze In The Gulf of Mexico

SSV Deepwater Horizon -- The Giant Is Ablaze

There Are 11 Listed As MIssing From SSV Deepwater Horizon But Little Hope Can Come of This

Further Explosions Aboard SSV Deepwater Horizon Come Just After 5 PM

SSV Deepwater Horizon -- US$350M Vessel In Meltdown

Firefighting Efforts Continue To No Avail

SSV Deepwater Horizon Capsizes -- Her Helipad Crahes Down On Right

The 52,587 Ton Displacement Vessel SSV Deepwater Horizon Has Gone Down

This Is One of The Largest Ship Losses In Years

From The Cargo Letter - April 23 2010

Marshall Islands-registered, dynamic positioned (DP) semi-submersible oil rig Deepwater Horizon (IMO: 8764597), with 126 people aboard, suffered an explosion and fire approximately 52 miles southeast of Venice on Apr. 21. The U.S. Coast Guard evacuated the crew. The 114 m long, Transocean owned mobile offshore drilling unit was completed in 2001 by Hyundai Heavy Industries in Ulsan, South Korea, after their merger with Transocean. Since arriving in the Gulf of Mexico, the Deepwater Horizon has been under contract to BP Exploration. [From our Sr. Correspondent Tim Schwabedissen, 21-4-10] UPDATE>> Deepwater Horizon sank after burning 36 hours on Apr. 22. A 5-mile long oil slick extended from the site. 11 crew members reported missing. [From our Sr. Correspondent Tim Schwabedissen, 23-4-10]

Support Vessels Use Firefighting Equipment

Editor Note:

Deepwater Horizon sank on April 22, 2010, in water approximately 5,000 feet (1,500 m) deep, and has been located resting on the seafloor approximately 1,300 feet (400 m) northwest of the well.

On SSV Deepwater Horizon 115 Crew Are Saved & 11 Are Lost

The Fires Are Supressed -- But Now A Great Danger To The Gulf of Mexico Will Emerge.

The Wells Once Attached To SSV Deepwater Horizon Are Leaking Thousands of Barrels of Oil Per Day

April 21 -- SSV Deepwater Horizon Threaten The Gulf

The Oil Spill Is Now The Size of Puerto Rico

April 26 -- Spill Is Size of Rhode Island

From The Cargo Letter - May 1 2010

An inadequate underwater cement job during the deepwater drilling process is emerging as a potential cause of the devastating oil spill off the Louisiana coast in the Gulf of Mexico.

Officials haven't said what they think caused the April 20 explosion that led to the sinking two days later of the SSV Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, owned by Transocean Ltd. But industry speculation points to a process where cement is used to seal cracks in the ocean floor surrounding the tubing through which crude oil flows.

Transocean operated the drilling rig under contract for British oil giant BP Plc., the largest oil producer in the U.S. portion of the gulf and a company with a spotty safety history. Transocean has said the global construction titan Halliburton had just completed "cementing" the 18,000-foot-long well around the time of the explosion.

In a statement April 30, Halliburton confirmed that it was the "cementer" hired for the job and said it had completed its job about 20 hours prior to the explosion.

"The cement slurry design was consistent with that utilized in other similar applications," the company said. It said all procedures had been "in accordance with accepted industry practice approved by our customers."

"It is premature and irresponsible to speculate on any specific causal issues," the statement said.

Halliburton, one of the service companies that worked on SSV Deepwater Horizon, said it had not placed the final cement plug at the time of the incident which would enable the planned temporary abandonment of the well. Well operations had not yet reached that point, the company says.

Halliburton says it had completed the cementing of the final production casing string "in accordance with the well design approximately 20 hours prior to the incident."

The company is assisting with planning and engineering support to secure the well, including a potential relief well.

Satellite View of The Spill

Deepwater Horizon Incident -- Joint Information Center - May 1 2010

The response to the SSV Deepwater Horizon incident continues with limited operations due to inclement weather. Operations are scheduled to resume Sunday weather permitting. The National Response Team (NRT), an organization of 16 federal departments and agencies responsible for coordinating emergency preparedness and response to oil and hazardous substance pollution incidents was quickly activated and a coordinated group of federal partners-including the United States Coast Guard, Departments of Homeland Security, Commerce, Interior and the Environmental Protection Agency-immediately began directing and overseeing BP's response.

Coastal protection and booming operations under the direction of the Unified Command Mobile are ongoing, actively deploying as rapidly as possible as part of the strategic plan across Mississippi, Alabama and the Florida panhandle, Unified Command Mobile said today. The protective measures are targeting the barrier islands and prioritized environmentally sensitive areas.

Additional areas will be designated for booming as trajectories are updated each day.

Overall, the combined response has deployed 275,580 feet of boom, staged 316,470 feet, and has on order an additional 250,000 feet.

"The Unified Command is working diligently to ensure that all possible resources are being employed in the response to the oil spill," said Coast Guard Capt. Steven Poulin, commander of Coast Guard Sector Mobile.

To date, more than 60,000 feet of boom have been placed along the Mississippi, Alabama, and the Florida panhandle coastline. The boom deployment operations will continue as aggressively and as rapidly as possible with all boom being used and staged for deployment to maximize the protection of coastal shorelines. The specific locations where boom is deployed are:

* Deer Island, 8,500 feet deployed

* Davis Bayou, 1,500 feet deployed

* Pascagoula Bay, 11,000 feet deployed

* Grand Bay West, 1,500 feet deployed

* Pascagoula River, 9,500 feet staged and in process

* Bay of St. Louis, 10,500 feet deployed

* Dauphin Island 5,750 ft, with 10,000 ft staged and in process

* Orange Beach 36,000 ft with 80,000 ft staged and in process

* Grand Bay 18,000 ft staged and in process

* Bayou La Batre 14,450 ft with 3,000 ft staged and in process

* Pensacola area, 55,000 feet deployed

* Weeks Bay, 650 ft deployed

* Bayou Caddy, 6,500 ft deployed

* Henderson Point, 2,600 ft deployed

The Unified Command is using the Alabama, Mississippi and Northwest Florida Area Contingency Plan as a guide to respond to the oil spill and focus response resources.

The ACP is a comprehensive plan developed in conjunction with the federal, state and local agencies to coordinate tactics for just this type of catastrophe. The ACP is updated yearly to include new technology and points of contact.

To view the Area Contingency Plan for the Alabama, Mississippi and Northwest Florida Contingency Plan click here.

Oil Barrier Booms Are Deployed

National Oceanographic & Atmospheric Administration - May 2 2010

NOAA is restricting fishing for a minimum of ten days in federal waters most affected by the BP oil spill, largely between Louisiana state waters at the mouth of the Mississippi River to waters off Florida's Pensacola Bay (click here for map). The closure is effective immediately. Details Here

Deepwater Horizon Incident -- Joint Information Center - May 3 2010

In the Past 24 Hours:

* The President has dispatched the secretaries of Commerce, Interior and Homeland Security, as well as the NOAA Administrator, to return to the Gulf Coast this week. Specific details on their travel will come from their departments and agencies, but collectively they will be inspecting the ongoing, coordinated response efforts to mitigate the impact of the spill on public health, the environment and the economy. They will meet with business owners to discuss potential economic impacts of this spill across the Gulf Coast region.

* Secretary Salazar, Secretary Napolitano, EPA Administrator Jackson and other members of the administration today met with BP CEO Tony Hayward and BP America Chairman and President Lamar McKay at the Department of the Interior to discuss ongoing, coordinated response efforts and receive an update on BP's mitigation plans for potentially impacted Gulf Coast states. This is the most recent in a series of meetings that have taken place between administration leadership and BP leadership.

* Response crews continue to test a new technique to break up the oil before it reaches the surface&emdash;a remotely operated underwater vehicle dispensing sub-surface dispersant at a rate of nine gallons per minute&emdash;with encouraging results so far. Nearly 3,000 gallons of subsea dispersants were applied, and BP and NOAA continue to evaluate these tests to determine the feasibility of continued use of subsea dispersants.

* More than 2,000 volunteers have been trained to assist in the response effort to date. Volunteer recruitment efforts include outreach to local fishermen with boats, which can be used as vessels of opportunity to assist contractors in deploying boom.

* Nine staging areas are now set up to protect vital shoreline in all potentially affected Gulf Coast states (Biloxi, Miss., Pensacola, Fla., Pascagoula, Miss., Dauphin Island, Ala., Port Sulphur, La., Shell Beach, La., Slidell, La., Port Fourchon, La., Venice, La.).

* BP is now accepting claims for the Gulf Coast oil spill.

By the Numbers to Date:

* Personnel were quickly deployed and approximately 3,000 are currently responding to protect the shoreline and wildlife.

* Nearly 200 vessels are responding on site, including skimmers, tugs, barges, and recovery vessels to assist in containment and cleanup efforts&emdash;in addition to dozens of aircraft, remotely operated vehicles, and multiple mobile offshore drilling units.

* Hundreds of thousands of feet of boom (barrier) have been deployed to contain the spill&emdash;nearly 700,000 feet are available.

* More than 1 million gallons of an oil-water mix have been recovered.

* More than 156,000 gallons of dispersant have been deployed. An additional 230,000 gallons are available.

* Nine staging areas have been set up to protect vital shoreline in all potentially affected Gulf Coast states (Biloxi, Miss., Pensacola, Fla., Pascagoula, Miss., Dauphin Island, Ala., Port Sulphur, La., Shell Beach, La., Slidell, La., Port Fourchon, La., Venice, La.).

Websites & Hotlines

* For information about the response effort, visit Deepwater Response

* To report oiled wildlife, call 1-866-557-1401. Messages will be checked hourly.

* To report spill related damage, please call 1-800-440-0858.

* To volunteer, call 1-866-448-5816.

* For information about validated environmental air and water sampling results, visit

* To file a claim, call BP's helpline at 1-800-440-0858. A BP fact sheet with additional information is available here. For those who have already pursued the BP claims process and are not satisfied with BP's resolution, can call the U.S. Coast Guard at 1-800-280-7118. More information about what types of damages are eligible for compensation under the Oil Pollution Act as well as guidance on procedures to seek that compensation can be found here.

Hundreds of Thousands of Feet of Boom (Barrier) Have Been Deployed To Contain The Spill. Nearly 700,000 Feet Are Available.

Deepwater Horizon Incident -- Joint Information Center - May 5 2010

* Personnel were quickly deployed and approximately 7,500 are currently responding to protect the shoreline and wildlife.

* Nearly 200 vessels are responding on site, including skimmers, tugs, barges, and recovery vessels to assist in containment and cleanup efforts&emdash;in addition to dozens of aircraft, remotely operated vehicles, and multiple mobile offshore drilling units.

* Approximately 367,000 of feet of boom (barrier) have been deployed to contain the spill&emdash;and more than 1 million feet are available.

* More than 1 million gallons of an oil-water mix have been recovered.

* Nearly 160,000 gallons of dispersant have been deployed. An additional 230,000 gallons are available.

Survivors of SSV Deepwater Horizon Remember The Blast -- How It Happened

Minutes before the SSV Deepwater Horizon exploded in fire, workers on the deck heard a thump, then a hissing sound. Gas alarms sounded and the rig shook.

Seawater and mud containing gas from the well spewed up through the crown of the derrick and rained down on the drilling floor; fumes reportedly moved into the "safe zones" where the electric generators are located. The generators raced out of control as they sucked gas into the air intakes.

When the electric power surged, light bulbs exploded, computers and other electric systems were destroyed, leaving the rig in darkness except for the light from fires and explosions that ripped apart walls, according to accounts derived from interviews with attorneys representing survivors, missing rig workers and their families, as well as experts in the field of offshore drilling operations.

Before the blowout, the rig's crew had been replacing heavy and valuable drilling mud with lighter salt sea?water in the top section of pipe known as the riser &emdash; the purpose being to extract the mud so they could remove the riser, several sources said. While doing so, they had to secure the wellhead to keep oil and gas from blowing out.

But Blow Out it Did

Kevin Eugene, a steward on the rig, said he was in his bunk watching TV about 10 p.m. when a "big old loud boom" and an alarm went off "almost simultaneously."

The lights went out. The platform began shaking.

"I thought the place was falling in the ocean, that the whole rig was collapsing," said the father of four from Slidell, La.

Ceiling tiles, dust and debris rained down from overhead. Clad only in his pajama pants and undershirt, he scrambled down a hallway toward an exit to a stairwell that would lead to a lifeboat up on deck. He heard more explosions, but can't remember how many.

When he got onto the deck, he felt a blast of heat and saw flames about 200 yards away.

"I mean it was the hugest, biggest fire I've ever seen," Eugene said. "It was just a big old ball of fire up there on the derrick. The whole derrick was on fire. The fire was shooting from out the well over there that the derrick was connected to and you could hear the gas gushing out."

The deck was covered with oily mud.

Blowout Preventer Failed

All these things &emdash; the mud, the alarms and the job that was being done that day &emdash; will be key in determining why the Deepwater Horizon exploded, and ultimately sank, killing 11 and causing one of the nation's worst oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico.

Alarms designed to detect escaping gas sounded on the drilling floor minutes before the eruption, said attorney Ronnie Penton of Bogalusa, La., whose client, a rig worker, escaped by jumping off the rig and whose job included maintaining the alarms.

When the alarms go off "you shut it down," said Daniel Becnel, an attorney from Reserve, La., who has filed lawsuits on behalf of fishermen, oystermen and other Louisiana residents claiming damages from the spill. "They've got panic switches all over the place."

Those switches are supposed to activate a blowout preventer on the ocean floor, a huge and complex tower of valves and pipe crimpers designed to shut down a well in an emergency. It didn't work.

Although it had been tested beforehand, BP now says robot submarines have discovered at least one problem with the blowout preventer, though it is unclear whether it caused the malfunction.

"We have found that there are some leaks on the hydraulic controls," said Bob Fryar, senior vice president of BP's exploration and production operations in Angola, in southwestern Africa.

Investigations will be done by the Minerals Management Service, the U.S. Coast Guard, plaintiffs' attorneys, BP and others. The probes likely will focus in part on whether all safety standards were followed, or whether any critical shortcuts were taken.

Daren Beaudo & David Nicholas, spokesmen for BP, said any comment on the circumstances prior to the blowout would be "premature."

Guy Cantwell, spokesman for drilling rig owner Transocean, also declined to go on record, saying: "At this time we cannot get ahead of ourselves with respect to the facts of this incident, and to do so would be speculation."

It Wasn't An Ordinary Day

On April 20, at 11 a.m., the day's procedures were laid out at a crew meeting on the rig, according to Penton, and it wasn't going to be an ordinary workday.

BP was temporarily abandoning the well. SSV Deepwater Horizon was being detached from the well to be moved to another location, as soon as the next day. And the well was being capped.

Experts say well-capping poses special hazards. One arose that day as crews were replacing the mud with seawater in pipes going from the ocean floor to the rig.

Deep gases exert astounding upward pressure on a well. "Drilling mud," a heavy fluid used to lubricate the drill and bring up bits and pieces of rock, is used as the main line of defense against the upward pressure, or a disastrous eruption of gas.

The mud was being displaced so the riser could be detached from the rig and the wellhead, and the well could be capped with a final cement plug. But seawater is much lighter than mud. The pressure the riser was applying to the well would have lessened by as much as 38 percent, experts said.

That could prove significant.

Investigators likely will be considering whether the drill hole and the casing pipe were secured properly with cement a day earlier.

"The big question is how confident were they in the casing cementing job," said Elmer "Bud" Danenberger, who recently retired as chief of offshore regulatory programs for the Minerals Management Service. "They shouldn't have begun this (riser) operation until they were confident in that."

Cementing Job Tested

Cementing problems have caused other blowouts, including a major one last August in the Timor Sea and up to 18 in the Gulf of Mexico since 1992, documents show.

Directed by BP, Halliburton had cemented the well below SSV Deepwater Horizon 20 hours before the blowout, presumably enough time for the cement to properly set. Halliburton said in a written release that it had properly tested the effectiveness of the cement job, but it did not reveal those test results.

Questions are being raised about those tests, and about everything from the nature of the fluid used to push down the plug to the chemistry of the cement itself.

Also at issue will be other plugs in the well. Halliburton said the final cement plug at the top of the well had not been installed because "operations had not yet reached the point" requiring it.

Penton said his client told him that the "seal assembly" &emdash; an important plug down in the well &emdash; had been set less than a half hour before the blowout.

"This was a modern marvel," said attorney Richard Arsenault of Alexandria, La., referring to the high-tech SSV Deepwater Horizon, built in 2001 and insured by Transocean for US$560M. "If that kind of technology can't prevent this kind of disaster, that's very troubling."

Approximately 367,000 Feet of Boom (Barrier) Hss Been Deployed

Editor Note:

Our coverage of the SSV Deepwater Horizon loss incident was to resume on May 9 2010, as BP attempted to lower dome caps over two of the three well leaks from the former SSV Deepwater Horizon.

The next day we suffered a violent cyber attack on our website which required full time efforts to protect the massive database we have gathered for you over the past amost two decades.

Starting on May 10 2010 we began efforts to save the database. It took weeks to reconstruct the photos & materials which you all read & rely upon daily. To be clear, our site was erased. We fought back.

We came close to losing everything.

I am happy to report all the data was saved. The many Features & Singles you have studied & enjoyed over the the years are all safe & functioning.

This said, we now have a massive catalog of photos & insights to this Deepwater Horizon loss incident which it would take months to post. We will decide whether it it is better to post or move on to new events for your viewing.


Reader Comments:

"Outstanding piece on the Deepwater Horizon incident! Very glad you were able to recover your data base. I depend on your cite for information and visual proof to what can and does happen. Thank you.

As a U.S. Coast Guard Reservist I just spent two months in Louisiana responding to this incident. If you or any of your staff gets a chance to shake the hand of the COTP (Captain of the Port) for Sector LALB you should, please also tell him thank you. He did an amazing job down in Louisiana as well as the thousands of people that continue to work throughout the GOM on this incident. Likely the best response this planet has ever seen, but you will never see that on TV.

Very Respectfully
Chris Lee - Terminal/Vessel Safety Manager, Facility/Barge Security Officer, Matson (July 22 2010)

Editor Note:

You are correct, Chris. All initial mistakes beside, this was a terrible industrial accident where history will likely show a lack of proper worst case event planning.

This said, eforts by the U.S. Coast Guard and the Sector COTP would dazzle our readers, if this event could be reported in a non-political fashion.

For those coming to the scene without connection to the cause of this mess, the challenge was unlike none other ever encountered by any teams in the world -- a major leak -- one mile below the ocean surface where distance & pressures exceed those ever encountered by humans -- and contamination areas beyond the pale of any prior clean-up areas. Bravo Zulu to the U.S. Coast Guard!

Chris, thanks also for your service. It's guys like you, Reservists, who deserve so much credit from us fellow citizens


Shippers Must Have Quality Marine Cargo Insurance ........ Because......... "Ship Happens! ©"

To Repeat -- No Matter How Careful You Are -- Or Who You Hire ....... "Ship Happens! ©"

Get Your "Ship Happens! ©" Gear!

Visit The Cargo Law Ship's Store For Great Industry Gift Ideas!

The Dedication of This Feature Is Simple: To The Crew of SSV Deepwater Horizon And Those Who Attend This Rescue & Recovery.

SPECIAL NOTE: The historic dangers of carriage by air & sae continue to be quite real. Shippers must be encouraged to purchase high quality marine cargo insurance from their freight forwarder or customs broker

It's very dangerous out there.


Important Links To Our Feature:

Our Daily Vessel Casualties - stay informed

"Singles Only" - visit our individual moments of transport crisis for more.

The Greatest Container Losses Of All Time - these are the grand fathers -

M/V OOCL America

M/V APL China

M/V APL Panama - The EPIC

"Great Misfortune"- M/V Hyundai Fortune - March 2006

SPECIAL NOTE: The historic dangers of carriage by sea continue to be quite real. Shippers must be encouraged to purchase high quality marine cargo insurance from their freight forwarder or customs broker. 

It's very dangerous out there.

Thanks To Our Contributors For The "Lost Horizons" Feature

Our Contributors for this feature are greatly appreciated:
Allan Adron

Benjamin P Mc Knew

Our "Doc"


Anonymous Contributors Must Always Remain Anonymous*

NOTE: Please Provide Us With Your Additional Information For This Loss.

EDITOR'S NOTE FOR SURVEYORS, ATTORNEYS & MARINE ADJUSTERS: The Internet edition effort of The Cargo Letter now celebrates it's 8th Year of Service -- making us quite senior in this segment of the industry. We once estimated container underway losses at about 1,500 per year. Lloyd's put that figure at about 10,000 earlier this year. Quite obviously, the reporting mechanism for these massive losses is not supported by the lines. News of these events is not posted to the maritime community. Our new project is to call upon you -- those handling the claims -- to let us know of each container loss at sea-- in confidentiality. Many of you survey on behalf of cargo interests with no need for confidentiality. Others work for the lines & need to be protected. As a respected Int'l publication, The Cargo Letter enjoys full press privileges & cannot be forced to disclose our sources of information. No successful attempt has ever been made. If a personal notation for your report is desired -- each contributor will be given a "hot link" to your company Website in each & every report. Please take moment & report your "overside" containers to us. If you do not wish attribution, your entry will be "anonymous." This will will benefit our industry -- for obvious reasons! McD

* NOTE: The Cargo Letter wants you to know that by keeping the identity of our contributors 100% Confidential, you are able to view our continuing series of "Cargo Disasters." Our friends send us materials which benefit the industry. The materials are provided to our news publication with complete and enforceable confidentiality for the sender. In turn, we provide these materials to you.  

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