Deepwater Horizon Hearings – Live Blogging Day 2

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May 27, 2010

deepwater horizon hearings

This is Part II of gCaptain’s hearing coverage. You can view Part I at the following link:
Deepwater Horizon Hearings – Live Blogging

This morning’s first testimony will be from Deepwater Horizon (DWH) Offshore Instillation Manager (OIM) Jimmy Harrell.

One BP Company-man has exercised his constitutional right to remain silent, another is not appearing due to illness and the DWH’s 1st Assistant Engineer is also not appearing due to medical concerns. This leaves us with the following witness list:

  • Jimmy Harrell – Transocean, offshore installation manager Deepwater Horizon
  • Curt Kuchta – Transocean, master Deepwater Horizon
  • David Young – Transocean, chief mate Deepwater Horizon
  • Chad Murray – Transocean, chief electrician Deepwater Horizon

We will be doing the live blogging slightly different today, recapping each testimony after it’s completed. Live video of the hearing can be found HERE.

Jimmy Harrell – OIM

Jimmy Harrell, Offshore Instillation Manager aboard the Horizon completed a set of interviews and his response was honest, contained important details and, most importantly, gave gCaptain the impression that he was truly interested in the hearings finding the cause of the event so that future incidents can be avoided.

The sticky part of the interview were the questions that surrounded who was in charge of the vessel, the OIM or Captain. Jimmy made a few minor errors, first describing his OIM endorsement as a license and mis-stating a few maritime specific terms but mostly he painted an accurate picture of the dynamic between himself and the captain.

Of importance to future regulations was his response when challenged about the structure of command. Captain Nguyen asked him the specific question; “Do you think it would be a good idea for the government to make it be required that one single person is in charge of the vessel?”. His answer…. Yes.

Jimmy concluded his testimony thanking both the USCG and the Bankston for rescuing his crew and requesting that, in future incidents in the gulf, that a better job is done in getting a shaken and tired crew home stating: “We could do a better job of getting these guys on the beach in a more timely manner.”

Curt Kuchta, Master

Captain Kuchta faced difficult questions from both the USCG and MMS investigators but remained calm, professional and in command. Further he was very honest as to what he did and didn’t know avoiding all conjecture or ambiguity which, in cases like this, have the potential to do more harm than good.

The USCG began with the standard boilerplate questions; where you taking any medication, how much rest did you get, etc. but quickly advanced to specific questions about his responsibilities vs. those of the OIM and specifics about Transocean policies and procedures. Questions were also brought up about previous incidents aboard the vessel including a blackout in 2008. Kutcha handled each with ease and confidence.

Questions were then asked by BP’s lawyers concentrating on specifics of the evening and Steve Gordon who had questions about safe manning levels.

Safe manning levels have been a reoccurring topic of these investigations but it has yet to bring up the differences between licensed and non-licensed personnel DPO’s, Mechanics, etc) serving in the same capacities.

Dave Young, Chief Mate

We will attampt to write a recap of Dave’s testimony later today but…. it was clear he did an excellent job both during the incident and today’s hearing.

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