Friday, April 7, 2017

Mr. Charlie - Oil Rig Tour

Mr. Charlie has been an item on my bucket list for the children to tour.  I learned about Mr. Charlie on traveling home school blog and knew we had to go our return trip to Houston.  So, we detoured from I-10 and made our way to Morgan City, LA to see Mr. Charlie.

Mr. Charlie was a working rig from 1954 to 1986.  He was decommissioned when the off shore oil drilling went deeper into the gulf.  Mr. Charlie wasn't forgotten and to this day he has a role in drilling.  He's used for training and education.

We climbed aboard Mr. Charlie ascending to the first platform.  If you are afraid of heights, this may not be the tour for you.  It doesn't look so high from the ground, but looks are deceiving.  We made our way to the drilling deck.  Our tour guide explained how the drilling works and pipes are attached in the process.  He pointed out the different tools they use and how the modern oil rigs tools differ in some aspects.  He told us how they use a drilling mud in the pipes to help lubricate the system and keep pressure in check during the drilling.

We then went to the underwater exploration vehicle area and learned how the submersible is used in the drilling.  It is quite an upgrade from the diving bell days!  On the grounds they have different submersibles that have been used in the past to look at.  So, you can see the advancement that has been made. 

Our tour guide showed us models of more recent off shore rigs and explained how they work in relation to Mr. Charlie.  The deeper water vessels had longer legs and could drill further down.  The modern deep water rigs no longer require legs and use instead a propulsion and navigation system to 'anchor' them on position.   With modern techniques and better drilling capabilities, more oil can be reached without moving the platforms all the time.

Our guide explained how the drilling platform is moved and a derrick is placed with a small platform for the well.  We learned that the derrick platforms are not manned, yet a crew does visit them to perform maintenance tasks.  He explained how a crew must get from a boat onto the platform.  It isn't the easiest of tasks.  I sure wouldn't want to do it!  The boat pulls along side the derrick platform and there are ropes hanging off the platform.  The crew members must grab the rope and swing from the boat to the ladder.  This is especially difficult in rough seas.

Our guide took us inside and we saw the crew quarters, recreation rooms, and galley.  He explained how the crew quarters are different on modern rigs, due to an increase in women workers on the off shore rigs.  He told us about the meals they serve aboard the rigs and the crew eats very well.  They have steaks twice a week, fried chicken on Sundays, taco Tuesdays, and plenty of snacks and ice cream.

This was a fun excursion and definitely unique.  Mr. Charlie is well worth a side trip if you are in the area.