Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Galveston Key photo and "The Wreck of the Key Biscayne"

I used to work on the Galveston Key in the very early eighties when it was nearly new. (along with Joe from "meet the readers")

It's still working, most recently in the South China Sea off the coast of Vietnam.

I was looking it up and found this report: One of Galveston Key's (older) sisters, also built by Letourneau, "Key Biscayne" sunk in 1983 off western Australia.

The jack-up drilling rig ‘Key Biscayne’ was last seen afloat shortly after
1845 hours W.A.S.T. Friday 1 September 1983 in position 31° 10' S, 115° 11' E,
10 nautical miles off Ledge Point on the coast of Western Australia. Shortly
before that time the tow line to the rig supply vessel ‘Atlas Van Diemen'
parted and the standby vessel ‘Argus Guard’, which had been stationed about
5 cables astern, pulled off to starboard to clear the rig as it was running
down with the weather. ‘Key Biscayne’ was clearly seen when about 2
cables off the port beam of the standby vessel both visually and by radar.
However, by the time ‘Argus Guard’ completed its turn, the rig was no
longer visible and radar contact had been lost.
‘Key Biscayne’ was on voyage under tow by two rig supply vessels ‘Lady
Sonia’ and ‘Atlas Van Diemen’ from a location off Darwin to Fremantle for
stacking in Cockburn Sound pending its future employment.
The loss of the rig was the combination of a series of events during the
final day when tow lines parted and gale force winds, rough seas and heavy
swells buffeted the rig. All 52 persons aboard ‘Key Biscayne’ were
evacuated by helicopter and were taken to nearby Lancelin township without
loss or injury.
The tow line to ‘Lady Sonia’ parted at 0644 hours 1 September and for the
next twelve hours ‘Atlas Van Diemen' attempted to hold ‘Key Biscayne’ into
the weather and away from the lee shore. Concern for the safety of the
crew and of the rig was felt soon after the tow line to the supply vessel
‘Lady Sonia’ had parted. Shortly after 0900 hours the rig transmitted a
PAN message seeking assistance. By 0930 hours this message had been
converted into a MAYDAY and helicopter assistance was sought to evacuate
crew. At 1110 hours the first man was lifted from the helipad and by 1230
hours all non-essential personnel had been evacuated by both RAAF and
civilian helicopters. Throughout these operations the rig was wallowing in
the heavy seas and swells, rolling and pitching heavily.
During the day it was noticed that the vessel was settling by the stern
and listing to starboard, as heavy green seas were continually washing over
the main deck. The bow of the rig was seen lifting clear of the seas and
the stern immersed as the vessel pitched up to ten degrees forward and
about twenty five degrees by the stern. At the same time the rig was
rolling up to fifteen degrees each side of the upright.
All efforts to reconnect ‘Lady Sonia’ were unsuccessful. At about 1600
hours it was decided that the remaining crew should evacuate before dark
and return the next day when conditions were expected to moderate. The
drift of the rig toward the shore had been slowed by an anchor and the
weight on the tow line. With all line-throwing rockets spent and conditions
on deck too hazardous to work no useful purpose was seen in remaining on
board. By 1620 hours the remaining crew had been lifted from the rig.
The three support vessels remained in the area during the night. At about
0830 hours Friday 2 September ‘Argus Guard’ recovered a guitar case, life
jackets, paper and a trail of debris indicating the location of the sunken
rig. The position of the wreck was confirmed by bathymetric survey.

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