As battered offshore oil and gas platforms come back to life in the gulf of Mexico and merchant shipping gets back to normal in the wake of Hurricane Ike MAC mused upon a few questions and put them to our ‘Man in the Mexican Gulf’, a US Coast Guard commander involved in the operation to prevent a big blow becoming a maritime catastrophe.
Those familiar with the MAC podcasts The Case Of The Errant Hookers and The Case Of The Unlucky Hooker will know that warning and suggestions for precautions are sometimes not heeded, with results we know all too well, with results we all know too well.
MAC wondered whether commercial vessels, in particular those from outside the US, respond appropriately to the warnings that were issued? Apparently they did, although not necessarily of their own volition. Vessels of more tha\n 500 Gross tonnes were under mandatory VTS requirements and had to heed Captain of the Port Hurricane Port condition requirements.
MAC was told: ” The USCG Captain of the Port has a lot of authority here to control the movement of vessels and impose strict safety guidelines for the placement and disposition of vessels. As a preventative measure, we ordered all vessels remaining in port to submit applications and relay their mooring arrangements, etc to determine safe harborage. ”
Most problems were encountered with vessels under that size. While larger vessels handling navigation and anchor handling in bad weather quite well it appear that there is a need more familiarity among vessels smaller than 500 gross tonnes.
Oil and gas production platforms evacuated well in advance and took precautions appropriate to the predicted conditions. Losses and damage of the 3,800 platforms in the gulf was limited and mainly involved older facilities. Safety issues are generally dealt with by the US Minerals Management Service, MMS, which might review the weather hardiness of older rigs.
All in all, quite a creditable performance.