Deepwater Nautilus Breaks Loose in Heavy Hurricane Rita Seas


The Deepwater Nautilus, an ultra-deep water state of the art semi-submersible drilling rig, owned by Transocean Inc., broke free while attempting to run from Hurricane Rita and is now adrift in heavy Hurricane Rita seas. According to Transocean spokesman, Guy Cantwell, of the forty-five crewman that were aboard the rig, the final fourteen were safely evacuated late this afternoon. Prior to Hurricane Rita's entrance into the Gulf of Mexico, the rig was undergoing repairs to its mooring system at West Cameron Block 121, approximately thirty miles south of Cameron, Louisiana. The rig was under tow to "safer" waters heading east when the rig towing bridle broke in heavy Hurricane Rita winds and seas. Transocean is able to monitor the rigs position by using onboard transponders, but will not likely be able to reattach tugs until Rita moves ashore.

This is not the first time the Deepwater Nautilus has been on the losing end of encounters with powerful Gulf of Mexico hurricanes. In September of last year Hurricane Ivan tore the rig from its Shell offshore location, one hundred sixty miles south of Mobile, Alabama. The rig was later found slightly damaged some seventy miles from its original drilling location. Three weeks ago Katrina sent the rig on another unplanned and unmanned eighty mile voyage leaving rig mooring lines, anchors and 3,200 feet of marine riser pipe on the ocean floor.

Transocean owns and operates the largest fleet of deepwater semi-submersible and ship-shape mobile offshore drilling rigs in the world. The Deepwater Nautilus is a conventionally moored propulsion assist rig rated for water depths up to 8,000 feet. Shell Offshore currently has the rig under long term contract at a $195,100 per day charter rate.

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