Old Alumni here,
Went through the school when it was called Commercial Diving School (CDC), School of Commercial and Industrial Diving. Graduated 12 Dec 73.
Gene Aaron was Director of Training, Jim Joiner was President. Ed Tuttle was one of the course instructors.
I believe Al “the old salt” was around back then. The Al that I remember was retired from the Navy, then went offshore oil. Lots of time in a Mark V. He lived on a sailboat and drove a Corvette. Could be the same Al.
Guess I got lucky with my previous experience in the oil fields onshore. Also my demolition training in Germany and a year in Viet Nam with the 101st.
After graduation, I was on a plane to Singapore before Xmas. Helped to build a 600’ Diving Bell System on the Glomar III Drill Ship. It was the old CUSS III, but the orientals considered CUSS to be a dirty word so they changed the name. Supported 11 different drill ships as part of a crew, when Indonesia was exploring the extents of their oil and gas in the Java Sea. Offshore Borneo, Sumatra, Malaysia, and whereever.
Lots of gas over there. They had to run 36" conductor pipe down 500’ and cement in. Then the smaller stuff. One jack-up didn’t clear the gas pockets and it took two other rigs 6 months to stop the flow. They set up maybe 3/4 mile away and continuously pumped mud down their pipes until it stopped. Meanwhile the rig sank on a 45 degree tilt until half the rig floor was underwater.
Was too exciting a time for me, too often. Indonesian tenders didn’t know squat. Had to bailout at 90’ with a hose flap shutting off air. What’s a hose mandrel? Ya dummy!
Got me bent from incompetent equipment maintenance after a 165’ dive. Decompressed topside on USN SurD O2, in a 3’ diameter chamber, in the sun. Then got out. Then the bend hit. Then they couldn’t get the chamber pressured again. Damn near ended me.
Work boat skippers getting iron anchor rope caught in their props. Drunken 1st mate guns the winch, breaks the 3" chain and everything flies onto the deck in your direction. Chopper came out to get my partner after the chain knocked him into the deck rail. Never saw or heard from him again. He was unconscious when taken away.
Hooked a winch line to a 11 ton BOP at about 80’. It was still connected to a broken 15 ton crane. Was on a jack-up rig. Tip of the crane was vertical, down, almost to the water. Then when we finally got it aboard with the help of the crane on the other side of the rig, seas were rocking the boat so bad it almost fell back into the water, until dummy here ran across the deck, up the BOP and disconnected the clevis pin. Should have let it fall back in. That was my bad. Crazy thing to do.
Lots of current way out in the Java Sea. Doesn’t look so bad from the deck, but when you use 3 old drill bits to hold your dive line and they end up over 45 degree down current, it makes it bad going to and from a job. Very rare to have current near the seabed. Looking up at the boat or barge from over 100’ was clear as could be, but another 10’ could be pitch black from the sediment cloud. Was tightening the bolts on a leaking pipeline, buried in the sediment one time. Couldn’t see crap. Had my legs straddling the pipe while wrenching. All of a sudden I’m impacted from behind and tumbling through the water. Lost the wrench. Never did figure out what hit me. All I know is…it was big! (disclaimer: everything looks bigger down there) They have some big groupers. Was descending into this blackness one time near a jacket leg and this huge mouth came up out of the darkness. I grabbed my knife and braced. Then this big grouper turned sideways and swam off. Scared me, and I’m fearless. lol.
There were always fish nets wrapped around jacket legs of platforms. When going down a leg in heavy seas, had to carry a spare knife on a lanyard just to make sure I could cut the fish nets and hooks loose. Repairs at night under export buoys, off a Brown and Root derrick barge is not fun, especially with 15’ seas. Did you ever mix your own gas while working with someone who doesn’t know whether to add oxygen to helium or the other way?
Nearly got swept away by the current because the tenders didn’t know north from south. Handled the explosives and blasting caps like “just another piece of gear.” Open shunts. Tried to take caps down to 120’. Too much crazy crap! No help blasting coral reefs. Never could teach them how to sever a conductor pipe after a rig moved off location. The rig hands always stored (hid) the blasting caps at one end of the rig. Det cord at another. 2 part explosive, really hidden. This stuff we were using was 3 times more powerful per pound than C4. Totally safe, except for air travel when not mixed. A corrosive and a gel. We used 50 lbs. in a makeshift container. Turned a couple of knots in the det cord, inserted, and sealed her up. Lowered that puppy down the inside of the pipe to 5’ below the seabed and tied her off. Taped a #6 blasting cap to the cord and ran 500’ of wire on the deck, back to front and back again. Attached the blaster. Cut loose the mooring. Drifted to the end and BLASTO! The fishermen loved us;) Sometimes a plume of water over 100’. Once this huge 36" diameter solid piece of steel and concrete came out of the water about 10’ higher than it was before. Then it settled back down, and I thought O-S… But the current gradually pushed it over.
That’s enough for this old fart tonight.
I basically saved some coin to go back to school. Came back to the states and got a degree in Engineering.
Was that good luck or bad luck?
Anybody else out there with a war story?
If you don’t believe mine, I can show you my dive log, but you have to buy the beer.