Thursday, 22 April 2010

Burning the night

There is a reason we don't like excitement offshore. For the most part. Chances are, if it's getting exciting, it's nothing good :(. The events of the last 24 hours or so are proving to be a glaring example.
It's all over the news channels and websites, so this isn't exactly breaking news. A semi-submersible mobile offshore drilling unit rather close to our location suffered a major explosion and caught on fire late Tuesday night. Most of the crew were reported to have successfully evacuated the location quite swiftly. Most of them have by now been re-united with their families back on shore.We were about 20 nm (~36km) away when disaster struck. The flames over 200 feet high were clearly visible all the way from beyond the horizon. Over a day later, the blaze is still raging on. The rig itself is of course, lost. Thankfully, no deaths have been reported, although a handful of crew were air-lifted early in the operation due to more severe injuries.
But there are about a dozen crew reported missing. Good thing is that the weather's been really calm these last couple of days. One hopes that when the aerial SAR teams join the USCG cutters and several other vessels still searching for the missing at first light, they will have more success than they did yesterday. But of course the longer it takes, the bleaker the outlook :(.
It's humbling to see the flames leaping up even now, the brightest thing on the horizon, even from this far away. All through the day yesterday the flames defied the bright sunlight and remained constantly visible. The jets of water from the fire-boats instantly vaporizing and mingling with the smoke to create a huge plume above the flames rising up high into the sky.
We have our ears on the VHF, waiting, hoping to hear reports of one of the searching vessels locating the remaining crew of the Deepwater Horizon.
Currently: hopeful, still
Listening to: Coldplay - Everything's not lost

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