"Seamen" Sue Over Rough Weather

Yes I see that now, my mistake.

So presumably the question now is what the lawsuit is about. If it’s just about the actual conditions at the time than the distinction between a tropical or extratropical is irreverent.

The 34 knots is relevant in avoidance. If the vessel remains outside the 34 kt wind field that would be considered successful avoidance. Of course a sea-going vessel can typically cope with worse conditions so the guidance would not relevant to extratropical systems.

For example:


From here:


The 34 kts gives a concrete number to work with rather than what ever some random captain decides to pull out his ass.

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KC, thanks for elaborating on the point I was trying to make when I mentioned the 34 knot wind field. I never thought it would have to be explained to a great Norwegian Sea Captain.

I bought two boxes of microwave popcorn on my bi- monthly pandemic trip to the grocery store. It will not last reading this stuff.

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Ahh, thank you. Court 164 is a Civil court. Looks like these are Civil suits of the type Other Injury or Damge, which Texas defines as:

OTHER INJURY OR DAMAGE: All other cases alleging an injury or wrong committed against a person, their reputation, or their property by a party who either did something that he was obligated not to do or failed to do something that he was obligated to do. Examples include damages on premises, “slip-and-fall” cases, construction damages, assault, battery, animal attack, vandalism, slander/libel/defamation, malicious prosecution, and false imprisonment.

We are talking about apples and oranges.
The decision making and avoidance on a trading ship is VERY different from that
on a drillship on location with pipes in the hole, which has been explained earlier.
I have had to make such decision on both kinds of ships.

Not sure why so much conversation on this, Transocean will settle with them, everyone knows USA is the land of the free and the right to sue for whatever you want, especially if your feelings get hurt.

Of course the specific tactics are going to vary according to the circumstances. However the fundamental principles remain the same.

Agree. My fundamental principe is: “plan and prepare for the worst and hope for the best”
The big difference between an ordinary ship underway and a drillship in operation is that one can change course quickly if the storm change track, while the other is not able to. You are stuck on location until the well is secured and the gear recovered.
Yes you can drift off location when unlatched, but not steam away before the ship is storm ready.

Another thing that is different is the “Chain of Command”:
On an ordinary ship the Master make a decision and execute it.
On a Drillship it is not always that clear cut. The Rig Manager (Toolpusher) is frequently the OIM and not always in agreement with the Master.
That has cost a lot of lives over the years.

Most companies (Transocean included) have combined the Master and OIM position now to avoid these conflicts of chain of command.

After how many lives lost because of it?? (Glomar Java Sea, Ocean Ranger, Sea Quest and more)

Because even though I’ve worked down there, I didn’t realize there were that many pansies lurking in the rough and tough oil field! (If there were actual physical injuries in this case I’ll retract that statement…I’m not callous, just skeptical)

…and Deepwater Horizon obviously. That was certainly a driver for TOI.

That was a drilling incident, not involving the Master before the “sh*t hit the fan” so to speak.
He should be the one to call “Abandon Ship”, though. (Not sure if he was(??))

PS> I don’t know if the Master was the OIM on the DWH at the time.(*??)

In general, some types of tort cases do require
“physical injury.”

But “physical injury” may not be what most of us might think.

I do not know the law applicable in this case, but tort claims for emotional distress might require proof of “physical manifestations”, such as vomiting, crying, shaking, skin rash, loss of sleep, hair loss, muscle spasms, back pain, grinding teeth, etc. Many people have underlying conditions that are aggravated by stress.

As a mariner, I see this as a useful case. We are in a period of more severe hurricanes. The bean counters need to be discouraged from putting (or leaving) Mariners in harm’s way.


Master and OIM were separated at that time on the DWH.

Anyone that has worked in the USA knows that when people are getting ready to be layed off these kinds of suits happen. The USA has no national safety net, retraining program or national health insurance as most developed countries have. Some US guys see the handwriting on the wall and know their family is getting ready to lose health insurance and up to 90% of their income for God knows how long. So they take a chance and sue. Many also go get corrective surgery for preexisting conditions if they know the end of their health insurance is coming. [I know a few of those guys and don’t blame them]These guys aren’t necessarily dead beats they are just trying to get a little last minute security for their family which is not available in the USA compared to most other developed countries. Hence, many drilling companies prefer to hire folks from Europe just to avoid the hassle of paying for health insurance as that is included in the taxes paid. Europeans are also less likely to sue as they are covered under various labour schemes and unemployment pay that far exceeds that provided in the US.


The Canadians have a similar advantage.

Having an employment based US health insurance (which isn’t portable) system is a huge economic disadvantage.

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Having an employment based US health insurance (which isn’t portable) system is a huge economic disadvantage

Not only is it a disadvantage for employees, it is also a disadvantage for employers. But there is too much money to be made by the insurance companies to expect any change. The FIRE interests rule the USA. We all know that.