End of Captains on DP Rigs


<strong><span style="font-size: 9pt; font-family: Arial]Ensco has started a new trend! NO MARINE LICENSES ON THIER NEW DP2 semi submersible rigs! the Ensco 8500 is in route to the gom right now. Apparently they are restricted to field moves of less than 12 nautical miles. How can this happen?? The vessel is a Liberian flag vessel. </span></strong><span style="font-size: 9pt; font-family: Arial]<strong>www.enscous.com</strong><strong> you can see the rig on their website. Could this be the end of captains and mates on dp rigs? How is this legal??? The rig is completely self propelled, even on location the rig is continuously moving. the mooring system is not used on these dp rigs. This rig will be drilling in US waters.</strong></span>


So what happens if they have a move of more than 12 miles? They have a standby crew to do their rig moves? I saw that they are building a few of these rigs.


I heard they have a Captain in the office that they will fly out. This trend needs to be stopped quickly or we could have a bunch of mariners unemployed. These flags of convienience basically let the companies write their own safe manning certificate.


There is probably a loop hole they discovered or developed with the regulatory agency involved, upon arrival in USA GOM waters you will have to see what happens.
I often read complaints of loop holes in regs, lack of conformity in enforcement, reduced manning, etc., etc., on this board. Recently someone even asked why the USA system couldn’t be more like Norway, UK etc.
In my expereince in the offshore minerals industry I have noticed one major difference between the USA and the other developed countries with offshore resources such as the UK, Norway, Australia etc. In the USA regulations and enforcement are primarily industry driven as the USA has almost no labor unions in the offshore industry to lobby for the mariner or offshore worker. The USA companies have the powerful oil companies, the OMSA, individual company lobbyists etc., etc., and they make generous ‘campaign contributions’ to influence the decision making process. The other countries have all that but they also have offshore or maritime labor unions who lobby specifically for the oil industry mariner while the USA doesn’t. The situation in those countries isn’t perfect as the mariner is still out gunned but it at least it’s not tilted completely to one side.


It’s not the flag of convenience. They’re copying the U.S. standards, I think from the Marine Safety Manual. I’ll find the the section tomorrow and post. I’m on a Marshall Islands flag…we don’t need a Master either. We only need an OIM, Barge Supervisor, and 2 BCO’s. Underway though we need a STCW OICNW, beyond 20nm trip we need a Master (instead of the OICNW), and over 8 hours two more 3/m. The scale goes up from there until at 72 hours, we need a master, C/M, 2/M, and 3/M. I’m glad we do the right thing and keep them onboard all the time.
They have the same issue in the engine room.
ENSCO is also the company that evacuated a DP rig during Katrina, or maybe it was Rita, and left it clutched in ahead.


I stand corrected… U.S. flags need a Master all the time. On drillships on location and on semi’s all the time, the Master needs the OIM endorsement. See 46CFR15.520 and MSM Vol. III, Chap. O.


Orniphobe, that’s only for US flagged drillships of which their is only one; GSF (now Transocean) Explorer.
The critical document is the Minimum Manning Certificate which states the licenses needed. The document is different for every vessel and is issued by the flag state. Most require an OIM (but no captain) while on location and a few lifeboatment. Over 12 hours you need to add a Captain, a JR. Mate, AB’s and OS’s. 36 hours you need a 2.m but you don’t need a Chief Mate untill 72hrs.
Many of the companies run a ship or two without a Chief Mate and sometimes without any JR mates. I have seen all this happen in US waters but I’ve never heard of one running a ship without a Captain (for obvious reasons).
The problem is twofold. First Captains with offshore experience and knowledge of Dynamic Positioning system are few and far between. They are getting even more scarce as recently announced newbuild projects will double the global fleet size in the next 5-7 years. Second is the “Can Do” attitude of the rig workers combined with the fact that on most drilling vessels the OIM (not the Captain) is in charge while on location (which is 95% of the time). A large number of ships run without any licensed Engineers. The best companies have full copliments and the Captain is also a licensed OIM but, since GSF got aquired, they are mostly foreign companies that do this.
If I worked aboard a vessel of that size and the company pulled the Captain I would pack my bags but I doubt many others would take the same action.


Incredible but John is right and being underway for more than 12hrs without a captain only requires an exception from Flag.

I’d bet my house someone is eventually going to die from this BS.




The Mariners that are not being sought to fill licensed positions on the new rigs.

The current offshore mariners job security, should this become a trend on DP rigs.

Who knows what kind of environmental catastrophe could happen should a company like Ensco decide to abandon the rig while its in DP mode when the next hurricane rolls through. A marine crew would be able to safely navigate the vessel out of harms way.

The influence the oil industry has on IMO and other regulatory bodies. I heard that oil companies sometimes represent Flag states like panama at IMO meetings.


During one hurricane they abandoned an ensco vessel by putting a few knots of motion towards the expected winds into the DP system. When the winds shifted the rig came sailing by ours. Our captain asked our company if he could put a line on her and claim salvage rights! Unfortunately they said no.


John, he shoulda done it anyway. Do you know what his personal take of the action would have been! HUGE


What the hell are you guys talking about? Are you really telling me the office ordered a vessel into gear without anyone aboard? What real captain would follow this order? This is beyond criminal.


that’s the point, there was no captain (or anyone else) aboard!


Just my two cents:
I have to agree with Orniphobe - “It’s not the flag of convenience. They’re copying the U.S. standards”
<div><span style="font-size: 9pt]My experience with flags of convenience has primarily been </span><span style="font-size: 9pt]Vanuatu</span><span style="font-size: 9pt] and </span><span style="font-size: 9pt]Panama</span><span style="font-size: 9pt]. $300 and two post-toasty box tops will get you an equivalent of whatever your </span><span style="font-size: 9pt]US</span><span style="font-size: 9pt] license is. The </span><span style="font-size: 9pt]Vanuatu</span><span style="font-size: 9pt] maritime regulations even say something to the effect that if anything in the regs aren’t clear - just refer to US law. I don’t recall the exact wording, but it’s somewhere in the first several pages. It is not exactly a license, but an endorsement to your </span><span style="font-size: 9pt]US</span><span style="font-size: 9pt] license. </span></div>
There has to be something more to the ENSCO story, and I would withhold judgment until hearing it all, but that being said - I am almost immune to being shocked by some of the stupidity I have seen, and as Capt_PM said - “it is beyond criminal”.
The best thing I have seen in this thread is tengineers comments about a voice for the non-union mariner. We have none. I am not a fierce anti-union guy. I would consider that option if it made sense, but for at least the past 6-7 years my income/benefits has outweighed what I would have received in a union. There are pros and cons in regards to a union, and I’ll save that debate for another day, but there are those of us who want to remain unattached to a union (because there are many companies who would never touch you with a ten foot pole once you have gone down that road), but want to have some kind of political voice. Of course, if I am going to expend the energy to complain, I should be willing to do something about it. My plate is full now since I am in a race to get my CMM classes, etc before they change the rules again. But if someone (perhaps someone a bit more diplomatic than me) were motivated enough to get something like that going - you can count on my help.
My Name’s Todd Harter and I approve this message.


I agree that the Maritime Unions can’t compete with the benefits offered by many of the non-union companies, especially offshore. I do disagree with comment “many companies who would never touch you with a ten foot pole” as I have been a dues paying member of MM&P for some time now although I never had luck finding a job with them. Not that I put it on my resume though.


The ENSCO7500 is US flag (built at Signal International in Orange, TX), 22000grt but is a barge in the eyes of our fine USCG. It’s manning certificate is for an OIM, a barge supervisor, barge engineer and three AB’s!

They operate it with DPO’s who do not have licenses and only have a master on it during hurricane season (because their insurance underwriter demands it) but of course they give him no authority whatsoever. He provides weather monitoring and advice to the OIM while aboard and nothing else. To run from a storm, they use a tug to tow the rig out of its path and then, he does not even direct the tow! The story I heard was that the rig was 80 miles from where they abandoned it before Katrina and in horrible condition. It was not far from being lost I understand.

as a man once said…“one hell of a way to run a railroad!”