The Deepwater Horizon hearings resumed today with a new presiding officer, high level witnesses and a new location; Houston Texas. But the most interesting item of the day was boredom as the proceedings stretched from 09:00 until after 20:00, as the growing list of Parties In Interest, each had time to ask plenty of questions.
For those who have been following the hearings from the beginning, not much new information was presented except for scant details of a DP drive-off aboard Transocean’s new-build flagship the Discoverer Clear Leader and more information on the similar blowout that occurred in December of last year. The blowout was the most interesting as its severity was enough for Transocean managers in Greenway Plaza, Houston to approve changes to the company’s Well Control Manual but, apparently, not worrisome enough to share the information with Transocean managers at its Park 10, Houston office.
Overall the witnesses presented themselves in favorable light with only one major mistake being made, this time by the Deepwater Horizon’s rig manager, Paul Johnson, who said that “If the rig’s fixed firefighting equipment isn’t capable of fighting the fire, then we call the Coast Guard and let them put it out”. As most mariners know, the United States Coast Guard is in the lifesaving business but does not have the equipment, expertise, or the proper resources to fight out-of-control rig fires.
Mariners, in particular, got a fair shake today as all three managers, two with Transocean and one with BP, were clear in their support of actions taken by the Deepwater Horizon’s crew. Transocean Operations Manager Daun Winslow made it clear however, that while he would not hesitate to place Jimmy Harrell or Captain Curt Kutcha in command of another Transocean rig. He noted that Captain Kutcha “would probably be sent overseas for publicity reasons”. A former Transocean employee calls his bluff stating “Transocean very rarely fires anyone, rather they send you to a place like Nigeria or India in hopes that you quit. Why else would this ‘punishment‘ pertain to the captain but not the OIM?”. Transocean’s lawyers declined to comment on Mr. Winslow’s remark.
The hearings resume tomorrow morning at 08:00 and can be watched on CSPAN-2 or online at CSPAN.ORG.