Thursday, March 18, 1999
Step up and hang on tight--the InteractiveMedia team went on an exciting adventure courtesy of Mr. Charlie. Mr. Charlie isn't an amusement park ride, it's the very first movable offshore drilling rig ever constructed. The rig doesn't drill for oil anymore though, it's permanently parked in Morgan City, Louisiana, about an hour and a half drive from New Orleans.
Why does a drilling rig have a name? That was our first question when we arrived at the International Petroleum Museum & Exposition. Here's the story...back in 1947 when companies began drilling for oil off the coast of Morgan City, the process was not easy. The rig had to be built from scratch on site. Every time a company wanted to move to a new drilling site, it had to rebuild the drill. Finally, a young Naval Academy graduate, Alden J. "Doc" Laborde, had an idea. Why not build the rig, put it on a barge, and float it from site to site? Doc had a hard time convincing companies his idea would work, but he kept at it. Someone finally bought his idea--Mr. Charlie Murphy. Get the connection? (The rig was actually named for Mr. Murphy's dad, Charlie Sr.)
Mr. Charlie isn't just a piece of the past, it's also helping the oil industry move forward. Today, a lot of companies use it to train employees, bringing them on board to "learn the ropes" before they do the real thing offshore. The museum also runs its own training programs through its International Petroleum Training Institute. During actual training, the students stay on board for twelve days and learn everything from first aid and CPR to water survival techniques. They work, sleep, and eat on board, just like they would offshore. When they finish the course, they're ready to get a job and do it safely!
We got a chance to take part in one of the rig’s training activities today. Check out the picture of our producer clinging to a big net hanging from a crane. This activity teaches workers how to safely get on and off boats pulling up to the rig. A huge crane hoists the net and transfers you from the platform of the rig to the boat and then back again. Deanne (our producer) says she had a really smooth ride and a great view of the river!
We want to thank everyone at the museum for making our day so interesting! International Petroleum Museum & Exposition has a great Web site.
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