USCG responds to drillship damaged in hurricane

Written by Nick Blenkey
Helicopter on drillship helipad

USCG New Orleans aircrew aboard the Noble Globetrotter II [USCG photograph]

Among vessels reportedly sustaining damage during Hurricane Ida was Noble Corporation’s ultra-deepwater drillship Noble Globetrotter II. That damage, it seems, was less than suggested in some social media posts.

On September 1, U.S. Coast Guard Eighth District reported that after a report that the vessel had sustained damage, members of the Eighth District Outer Continental Shelf division had been in contact with both the master of the drillship and Noble Corporation to determine the extent of any damage, and to ensure that the crew’s lifesaving equipment was functional and available in the event of an emergency.

“Throughout all of the communications between the U.S. licensed master of the vessel and the Coast Guard, the master has maintained that the vessel was not in distress and not actively taking on water.” said the Coast Guard. “Information released on social media, reportedly from the crew of the Noble Globetrotter II, indicates potential issues with safety, including possible damage to the hull.

“Out of an abundance of caution, the Coast Guard launched a helicopter aircrew from Air Station New Orleans to conduct an overflight of the vessel and has diverted the Coast Guard Cutter Venturous to the scene.

“The vessel and the company are developing a plan to bring the vessel into port for repairs. The Coast Guard will maintain communications with the master of the vessel until it arrives in port.

“The vessel and crew are currently located 80 nautical miles south, southeast of Grand Isle, La., in the Gulf of Mexico.”

In an update released September 2, Noble Corporation said:

“As previously reported, the vessel encountered severe weather during Hurricane Ida. Noble management is in frequent communication with the ship’s crew and is working to facilitate additional transport for some crew members to shore, as may be needed, as well as replacement personnel to support marine operations. A small number of crew members were treated for minor injuries. The living quarters of the vessel continue to operate normally with food service, climate-control, water, power, and internet systems functional. The vessel’s helideck is fully operational and teams are working through logistical challenges across the Gulf Coast region to resume normal levels of transportation to and from shore.

“Initial findings from the ship’s ongoing condition assessment confirm that several riser joints and the lower marine riser package separated from the rig during the storm and sank to the seabed. Efforts are underway to locate and recover that equipment, and the company believes that, if necessary, it can replace any missing or damaged equipment promptly. Additionally, one of the ship’s cofferdams in the moonpool area sustained damage during the weather event. The damaged cofferdam does not compromise the stability or structural integrity of the rig nor the safety of personnel onboard. The vessel successfully secured the well and detached from the blowout preventer in place on the well as part of its departure procedures.

“Noble provided a force majeure notice to its customer in accordance with the governing drilling services contract. The contract does not contain a right of termination for force majeure. The company does not expect any impact to its previously issued preliminary 2022 financial guidance and, at this time, is unable to estimate the impact on its 2021 guidance. Noble has insurance coverage for property damage with a $10 million deductible.

“Noble holds the safety of everyone aboard our vessels as the highest priority. We will continue to work closely with the Noble Globetrotter II’s personnel and their families to provide all necessary support as we all recover from the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.”

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