Making Our Mark in a Crowded Field

Submitted August 1, 2010

The level of effort to end the Deepwater Horizon incident is impressive. We spent the day working within 500 meters of the wellhead; moving through a field of boats and rigs to collect acoustic data. Working here has made me appreciate the complexity of the problem even more.

Deepwater Horizon MC252 from the Bigelow wheelhouse

Deepwater Horizon MC252 from the Bigelow wheelhouse

Rigs drilling relief wells. Vessels held stationary with dynamic positioning and controlling Remotely Operated Vehicles that are working 1 mile down. Ships passing through the field conducting seismic surveys to evaluate potential changes in the rocks and sediments below the ocean bottom. Boats carrying crew, groceries, water, pipe, and a myriad of other supplies. It is a work site of more than a thousand people and amid it all, we are driving back and forth collecting acoustic data.

Two ships make a close pass

Pretty sure I could throw a pass to a receiver on the Helix deck

The Bigelow’s officers and crew are doing an amazing job navigating through the wellhead area, moving between multiple ships to get the data that we need. Sometimes it seemed like we were close enough to throw something to the ships we were passing.

We made 10 or 12 passes over the wellhead and sent the acoustic data to shore for analysis and comparison with what was collected by the NOAA Ship Pisces earlier.

SIMOPS is planning for the static kill and once this begins, most ships including the Bigelow will be excluded from the wellhead area. We will stand by and wait to begin our acoustic surveys again once we are allowed back into the wellhead zone. But for now, we are collecting as much pre-kill acoustic data as we can, which means more driving back and forth of the wellhead navigating a fleet of other ships.

Jon Hare

Chief Scientist

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