USCG Air Station New Orleans aircrew aboard the Noble Globetrotter II. Photo via USCG

USCG Air Station New Orleans aircrew aboard the Noble Globetrotter II. Photo via U.S. Coast Guard

Noble Globetrotter II Worker Files Lawsuit After Drillship Caught in Hurricane Ida

gCaptain
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September 9, 2021

A lawsuit has been filed by a worker from the ultra-deepwater drillship Noble Globetrotter II which was caught on a course that put it within 10 miles of the eye of Hurricane Ida on August 28, 2021. Shell Oil Company, Noble Drilling Services, Inc. and others are named as defendants in the lawsuit. 

“Despite the undeniable path of the oncoming storm,” the lawsuit alleges, “Defendants continued to operate the vessel in direct defiance of the National Hurricane center’s forecast.”

According to the lawsuit, the worker was “exposed to 150 mile per hour winds and 80-ft swells. On board, ferocious sea tossed the crew around and threw them into walls. The Globetrotter II was swaying so severely side-to-side that the crew was forced to walk on walls. The sway was so extreme that the Globetrotter II almost capsized several times. The entire crew believed they were going to die.” 

The lawsuit claims Plaintiff sustained bodily injuries, specifically “including constant headaches, pain to his neck, back, shoulder and other parts of his body. Plaintiff also suffers from emotional disturbance . . . including anxiety, difficulty in focusing and concentration, sleep disturbance, and more.”

noble globetrotter II
Image courtesy MarineTraffic.com/Rene van der Kloet

The lawsuit seeks monetary relief of OVER $1 million. The $1 million figure represents the minimum required to establish jurisdiction in the court.

Noble Corporation (NYSE: NE) first addressed the incident in a statement on Aug. 29 confirming that the drillship “encountered hurricane-force conditions”. An update on Sep. 2 provided additional details and said that “a small number of crew members were treated for minor injuries.” The statement confirmed that several riser joints and the lower marine riser package were also lost as a result of the accident, in addition to other damages.

“Initial findings from the ship’s ongoing condition assessment confirm that several riser joints and the lower marine riser package separated from the rig during the storm and sank to the seabed,” the Sep. 2 statement said. “Efforts are underway to locate and recover that equipment, and the Company believes that, if necessary, it can replace any missing or damaged equipment promptly. Additionally, one of the ship’s cofferdams in the moonpool area sustained damage during the weather event. The damaged cofferdam does not compromise the stability or structural integrity of the rig nor the safety of personnel onboard. The vessel successfully secured the well and detached from the blowout preventer in place on the well as part of its departure procedures.”

The U.S. Coast Guard addressed the incident on Sep. 1, saying in a statement that it launched a helicopter aircrew and diverted the USCGC Venturous to the drillship “out of an abundance of caution,” while members of the Coast Guard’s Eighth District Outer Continental Shelf division were in contact with both the master of the Noble Globetrotter II and Noble Corporation.

“Throughout all of the communications between the U.S. licensed master of the vessel and the Coast Guard, the master has maintained that the vessel was not in distress and not actively taking on water,” the Coast Guard said.

In response to gCaptain’s request to comment, the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement responded that it is investigating the matter and will issue a report upon its completion, as per policy.

In March, BSEE issued Safety Alert 415 which included several recommendations to offshore operators and contractors related to inclement weather preparation after the ultra-deepwater drillship Deepwater Asgard, belonging to Transocean, suffered major damage during Hurricane Zeta last October. BSEE’s investigation into that accident was completed in June and identified “an inaccurate weather forecast, with a key contributing cause being the human error decision to stay latched to the well to attempt to ride out the hurricane” as the probable cause.

Attorney Kurt Arnold of the law firm Arnold & Itkin says, “Each hurricane season we’re seeing more incidents like this. Energy companies are willing to sacrifice their crews’ lives so they don’t lose a couple of extra days of drilling. There is no excuse.”

Arnold & Itkin has a history of representing workers and mariners involved in catastrophic maritime disasters. Arnold & Itkin represented more members of the Deepwater Horizon disaster than any other law firm, and they represented widows of mariners lost when the merchant vessel El Faro foundered during Hurricane Joaquin.

(Reporting by Shawn Vincent/Clearview Post and Mike Schuler)

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