Just six years after a deadly oil rig explosion, another Transocean rig has burst into flames. On Tuesday, April 20, 2010, a semisubmersible, known as Deepwater Horizon, exploded while it was located off the Gulf of Mexico. As a result, seven workers were critically injured and eleven people are missing.
According to a Transocean executive, there were no warning signs that the oil drilling rig was about to explode. The company said that crews were performing routine work before the blast, which occurred at approximately 10:00 PM, just 41 miles off the Louisiana coast. The cause of the explosion on the Transocean rig is still unknown.
At the time of the accident, there were 126 people onboard. Seventeen workers had to be airlifted to local hospitals. As of Wednesday afternoon, the rig was reportedly still burning and listing.
The search is continuing for the missing oil rig workers and many people are waiting anxiously to hear the status of their loved ones. The Coast Guard stated that it is utilizing three helicopters, four cutters and an airplane in the rescue operation. Transocean and BP have also deployed emergency response vessels and numerous private vessels are assisting in the rescue attempts. A safety zone has been established around the oil rig, which will restrict air and sea access to the area.
Most of the people who were on the rig at the time of the explosion have been transferred to an offshore supply vessel, which is heading toward Port Fourchon, Louisiana. Family members of the crewmembers are being sent to Louisiana where Transocean is providing counseling.
The Deepwater Horizon, which has been described as "one of the more advanced rigs out there" by a Transocean spokesman, was under contract with British oil major BP PLC. The rig that had set a deepwater drilling record last September of 35,000 feet, was being used in exploration drilling on BP’s Macondo prospect in the Gulf of Mexico’s deepwater. BP has reported that Transocean was working on BP’s behalf and was in charge of the rig’s safety.
As a maritime attorney who has represented Transocean employees, I understand the devastation that such an accident can cause. I represented a young man who was injured in the Transocean oil rig explosion near Galveston, Texas, which occurred six years ago. That tragic accident claimed the life of one person and injured many others.
Since this isn’t the first major oil rig explosion for Transocean, it makes you wonder what safety measures could have been put in place to prevent such a tragic accident. It seems logical to assume that there would have been significant safety improvements following the rig explosion several years ago, but unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that way.
My staff and I extend our thoughts and prayers to all the maritime workers, their family members and the rescue crews affected by this catastrophic accident. I will be offering the injured workers and family members of the missing maritime employees copies of my maritime books. These books were written specifically for offshore workers and explain what can be expected following a serious maritime injury.