OK, they got fined $1 million, I don’t think that’s really all that big a deal to them. I am SO glad I didn’t stick with that job!
That was going to be my perfect job. I left Oceaneering after they brought my ship to the Gulf of Mexico. What a HUGE culture shock! I’ve done everything I could do to get the hell back overseas ever since (STILL trying). When I got the offer from Frontier Drilling to go as 2nd mate on the Frontier Discoverer (now Noble Discoverer), I was on that like white on rice 🙂
It was out of the GOM, the pay and benefits were better, the schedule was better and best of all, it was drilling but NOT going to be stuck sitting in one spot for months on end not doing anything. This one was supposed to work in Alaska in the summers and Australia in the winters. I figured, great, I would still get to do some actual navigation. Finally get to go somewhere interesting again!
So, I flew over to meet the ship in Singapore. Whoa, what a surprise I got. I had the idea the ship was ”new”. The ship itself was built in 1966 (but NOT well taken care of- parts of it below decks looked like Swiss cheese- NOT good!). They stuck a new drill rig on it midships. They stuck a new house on it aft. It still had the original engine (that wouldn’t start) and bridge. Not much in the way of modern electronics, no DP systems- it was “turret moored”. They only had a captain, chief mate and 2 second mates for bridge team. I guess we were going to stand watch like a regular ship (12-4, 4-8, 8-12) instead of the usual 12 hour watch like the oilfield. I never did find out since I quit before we left Singapore. They did have a bunch of good ABs at least.
I really wanted to keep that job. It offered everything I wanted. Actual sailing around to interesting places around the world, good crew (international), good schedule, good pay, good insurance, decent quarters.
I hated to leave! But things were getting pretty scary to me. More and more every day. For instance, I would make my way up forward to the bridge for my watch and someone would casually mention to me that the “swimming pool” was full again. WHAT???? Swimming pool??
Yes, some ships do actually have swimming pools but this one was NOT supposed to. So, what were they talking about. Turns out, the swimming pool was a void space, starboard side midships. It went all the way down from the main deck to the bilge. Every other day it would fill up to the top. Then it would drain down. What was going on? No one knew. No one really seemed to care…
I was there only about 3 weeks. We would have fire drills every couple of days. Mostly because we could not conduct a ‘proper’ fire drill to satisfy the authorities. We would start the fire pump, but where was the water??? We could never get any water to the forward part of the ship. Why not??? Yeah, pretty important question…
Turns out that about 50 feet of the fire line had been cut out previously. No one had put a blank on the line. No one had ‘remembered’ about it. So, when we started the fire pump, the water from the fire line would fill up the swimming pool instead of going down the fire line to the forward part of the ship. WOW!
So, OK, that problem solved. Only took 3 weeks I was there and who knows how long before that they had been without any fire fighting capability. Again, no one seemed to care.
They did finally manage to get the main engine started too. I’m not sure why they bothered. The company man assured me they would TOW the ship to Alaska if they couldn’t get it started. They were bound and determined to get it there on schedule!
I almost fell out of my (top) bunk when they finally lit it off! It sounded like a bomb went off the first time it rolled over. Of course, the engine being so old, they don’t service that type anymore, or make parts, so the engineers were having a hell of a time. A great bunch of guys. They all walked off the ship a week before I left. The chief mate left a couple of days before I had enough. The QMEDs left when I did. All that were left was the Captain, the other 2nd mate (who was used to getting shot at while working in Africa) and the (foreign) ABs who were staying til the end since they wouldn’t be allowed to stay once the ship got to the states.
I felt bad leaving like that before my scheduled hitch was over. That was one of only a couple of times in all these years I’ve quit like that. It just wasn’t worth either my license or my life for that job no matter how badly I wanted it. Every time I see this ship in the news I’m reminded of that time in Singapore and glad I made the decision I did. I feel sorry for the people who had to deal with all that crap in Alaska. 🙁
Here’s a link to the ships details so you can see what I’m talking about 🙂http://www.marinetraffic.com/ais/shipdetails.aspx?MMSI=636014934