So you remember the Royal Dutch Shell Petroleum plans to drill exploratory wells in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas this summer? Plans that were quite controversial because of the lack of any oil spill containment capability and the remoteness of even U.S. Navy and Coast Guard support (not that they’re optimized for that type of mission anyway though I suppose they could nuke the wellhead as was proposed by some during the British Petroleum Deepwater Horizon disaster)?
Remember how the flagship of their high tech rapid response was a 35 year old ice breaking barge called the Arctic Challenger that was pretty much useless as an ice breaker because of design flaws even before they plated over the stern push points for the tug boats that provided the only motive power (yep, doesn’t even have its own propellers) so they could use it as a launch point for their super high tech blowout containment unit?
Remember how there were constant safety inspection failures during the refurbishing of this “loser dockside queen” culminating in the complete failure of the containment unit “Saturday, September 16th, in clear, calm, warm summer weather on Puget Sound“?
Well, thanks to KUOW Seattle National Public Radio we now know what happened blow by blow-
Day 5: The test has its worst accident. On that dead-calm Friday night, Mark Fesmire, the head of BSEE’s Alaska office, is on board the Challenger. He’s watching the underwater video feed from the remote-control submarine when, a little after midnight, the video screen suddenly fills with bubbles. The 20-foot-tall containment dome then shoots to the surface. The massive white dome “breached like a whale,” Fesmire e-mails a colleague at BSEE headquarters.
Then the dome sinks more than 120 feet. A safety buoy, basically a giant balloon, catches it before it hits bottom. About 12 hours later, the crew of the Challenger manages to get the dome back to the surface. “As bad as I thought,” Fesmire writes his BSEE colleague. “Basically the top half is crushed like a beer can.”
Like a beer can eh? Yah don’t say.
I highly recommend clicking on the link, the picture is quite stunning.
Anyway you’ll be happy to know everything is under control.
(h/t EdwardTeller @ Firedog Lake)