W. Alton Jones (2)

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sts W. Alton Jones (2)

The passage through the Red Sea and Indian Ocean into the Persian Gulf was easy, especially since the ship had an air-conditioning equipment of such capacity that even in the hottest parts of those areas we had to sleep under blankets. Even the highest position of the thermostat in my cabin was still good for a slight kind of winter condition in my cabin. I liked it very much as I am basically built for the cold weather climates, but we had lots of complaints of other crew members about the cold. That was good as now there was an extra topic beside discussing the food in the mess room. In the amidships we had our own air co plant on main deck level in a special section. It was a huge diesel driven machine partly covered by very thick layers of ice as the water in the hot humid air immediately froze on some parts of the machine. What a waste, but nobody was concerned as fuel was still cheap in those days. Also the bridge was air-conditioned but this was switched off by order of the captain. Something to do with ship's safety. His theory was that the deck officers would remain in the closed wheelhouse all the time. Especially looking for upcoming traffic aft would then go unnoticed. Some truth in that I suppose, although this ship was a kind of American overpowered 8-cylinder car and running at 20 or 21 knots day and night. So we were the ones that overtook ships all the time in those waters and never the other way around. Only the chartroom was within air co bounds, which was funny as it led to the highly undesirable situation that a lot of charting had to be done during watch hours. Listening to the radio in de Red Sea etc. was bad as on the medium wave bands we could hear only Arabian music, which was called Hendrikken-music for some reason, or static which we learned to appreciate. There were a few exceptions as some American air bases were in operation on the African continent bordering the Red Sea and also in the Persian Gulf which had their own radio stations. Dharan Radio was an example. In Mena-al-Ahmadi we were fully loaded in 12 hours or less. Not a very inspiring and exciting location. We were discouraged, let's say forbidden to go ashore, apart from urgent medical or dental treatment. Just a T-shaped jetty in the middle of nowhere. The vertical leg of the T was connected to the sandy shore and we and a lot of other ships were lying at both sides of the horizontal leg of the T. 

This was the jetty at Mena-al-Ahmadi. To the right you can see the pier leading to the forbidden Kuwait shore. That's about it. I am afraid that I would get a rerun of this bleak film many times over in the coming period.

As can be seen from picture Mena was a sailor unfriendly 'port' to arrive at and I am afraid that I came there much too often too my liking. A lot of us were fervent book readers, also due to lack of other entertainment. On Dutch ships we used to carry a 'book chest' which a Dutch seaman's welfare organisation used to bring on board. This chest was exchanged by another one at certain ports through the aid of the ship's agents. The only other things was the film box which contained three 16 mm full length movie films which was exchanged in the same manner. And listening to the short wave radio. I listened a lot to the music sent by the 'Voice of America' which could be received almost anywhere in the world. The books in the book chest were read by all the 'readers' aboard in no time at all. We used to buy a lot of paperbacks in the US etc., but there was a constant demand for new books. As I was free of duty when in port I used to collect the English language paperback books in a carton box and climbed on board the other ships lying at the pier to exchange the books. I once tried it on a Greek oil tanker but that was a mistake as they don't read English books. However, the Greek officers were very kind and invited me for drinks and dinner later on. When I left the ship I felt quite rosy due to intake of quite a number of ouzo's and Greek wines. When I left my newly acquired friends they even waved me good bye from the deck of the ship. When I staggered back to my ship a good soul from the Greek ship came running behind me on the pier, breathing heavily in all that heat, carrying my carton box with my precious paperbacks which I had forgotten all about in the mean time! On the average I was quite successful in the book exchange business. I sometimes left with half a carton box and came back with a full one. Once I did a repeat of the Greek thing, on purpose I must admit, by boarding a French ship. The French never read any English books I knew for sure. And it worked again. No books, but plenty of hospitality. I always found that colleague officers from other nationalities always were very friendly and hospitable to one another. You were part of a kind of unofficial international fraternity it seemed. On board our ships some people wondered what I had been doing seeing the happy smile on my face when I returned from such a special mission, but there were no complaints as the result of my exercise was self-explanatory, so no further questions were asked.

Basically the idea was that the W. Alton Jones was transporting crude oil from Mena-al-Ahmadi to Philadelphia, trip after trip, with one exception during my stay on board. After our stay, my first, at Mena we headed to  Philadelphia and back to Port Said again. That second time in Port Said during the buoy mooring operations we overshot our mooring location a bit and rammed into the poop deck (aft deck) of the tanker Olympic Flame which was already in position on the buoys in front of us.  As ours was a big ship in those days the damage was quite extensive, even the Greek sailors on the other ship's poop deck had to sprint to safety not to be flattened by our high steel bulk. And then the unbelievable happened. The captain denied that there was anything of serious damage done to the other ship; he claimed that the Olympic Flame only had a scratch like we had. We had however a big dent in the bow not fitting the meaning of the word scratch, but the other vessel's damage was much worse. The captain could not be convinced otherwise and consequently forbid that the incident was written into the ship's log. The first officers pleaded with him for hours and explained the risks of this attitude and that we should inform the owners without delay, which he all refused. After all it was just a scratch. The first officers than denounced the captain's decision and held him formally responsible for his decision to ignore the whole incident and he did that in front of the other officers, including me as this was live theatre on the bridge and I did not want to miss one bit of it. As I stated earlier the captain was a very nervous type. He was only a couple of years short of his retirement and was used to sailing on much smaller  10 knots oil tankers. He always was sour and angry. He detested the size and the speed of the ship, which was almost double the speed he was accustomed to in the van Ommeren fleet. He slept very badly and when he heard an irregular sound he came sprinting up the stairs and onto the bridge while hollering: What's going on, what's going on? One could not expect much respect as everybody sensed, now saw, that he was out of control. The third officer, a small very humorous guy from Amsterdam, had built up a whole repertoire of exact imitations of the captain, including his way of walking and talking. One day when he did his act on the bridge there was a roaring  laughter from the present spectators when the door to the wheelhouse was flung open and in sprints the captain calling again: What's going on? Some of the spectators had almost to be carried away. One of his big frustrations was the fact that a turbine engine as compared to a diesel or even steam engine has only very limited reverse power and that combined to the usual inefficiency of a ship's propeller when put into reverse led to a very, very long stopping distance. In fact that distance in our case seemed to be 12 sea miles, that's about the distance from the ship to the horizon. The turbine engine's lack of reverse power was probably also the cause of the incident at Port Said. The pilot did not react properly to the parameters ship's mass and turbine reverse power, although we was told about the situation, according to the first officer. The tugboats could not correct the ship also or probably were ordered too late. Anyway it was count down time now. Sit and wait as surely mr. Onassis would not let this one pass by we knew. We were already nearing Suez on our second return trip and we began wondering whether it may be was just a scratch after all, but then a telegram from the Rotterdam office was received in which the captain was asked for an explanation of a claim received from Onassis about a collision allegedly in Port Said harbour and that since they had not been informed they felt that this was all probably a misunderstanding. Alas, it was not. The captain then had to come out with the truth, although he stuck to his theory of a minor incident not worth mentioning. A couple of hours after leaving Port Said the captain received a telegram stating that he would be relieved on arrival in Philadelphia. The Rotterdam office, always creative in times of need, promoted the chief officer of the sister ship 'Liberty Bell'  to captain who boarded our ship on arrival in Philadelphia. Since the ship was proceeding from Philadelphia to Venezuela for loading and then on to Rotterdam for discharge, the office   -  as always keen on saving some money   -   ordered the ex-captain to stay on board as a passenger for the trip to Rotterdam. He transferred his things to the Owner's cabin where he stayed during the voyage. One would expect that he would lock himself into his cabin for the duration of the trip, feeling ashamed about the whole affair. But that was not the case to our surprise on the contrary.  A totally different person now emerged. He was so relieved that he became an amiable and a normal person again. We arrived in Rotterdam on May 28, 1956 and left again on May 29, 1956. So much for shore leave!

Under the new captain, a jovial good natured very overweight, obese fellow originating from Amsterdam, the atmosphere and the mood on board changed completely. Not so long after departure from Rotterdam when sailing in thick fog at a very slow speed and parallel to a sandbank in the English Channel it was noticed on the radar that another ship was coming towards us from the port side. As the bearing was not changing we signalled our presence with our ship's bell forward and with the steam powered fog horn continuously. We also shouted warnings at VHF channel 16, but got no response. We could not turn to starboard as the sandbank was there and not to port as the other ship was there. So we braced ourselves for the expected impact. Our situation was not without danger as after discharging in Rotterdam all tanks were empty and full of gasses. Also we were lying high in the water making a perfect target for a ship slamming into our port side and an explosion was to be expected. All personnel not necessary in the amidships were ordered aft. Only the captain, a number of bridge officers and myself were remaining in the amidships. In the mean time somebody had been awakened on the other ships as they indicated by their whistle that they were trying to go backwards. Between the fog horn blasts we even could hear very clearly the excited shouting on the other ship. And then the other ship suddenly broke the fog and into sight, very slowly moving now.  The ship was a ferry boat and we saw all passengers lined up along both sides of the ship probably looking at things to come. When they discovered the big steel hulk of our port side hull right in front of them all hell broke loose. As triggered  by an invisible director they  all started to scream at the very same moment at the top of their lungs. Oops, that was even louder than our fog horn I think. The other ship's engines were still in full reverse and the speed was still decreasing. In the end the ship bow touched our hull, but only an indent was made, luckily no hole. Our captain in the mean time was cursing away at the other captain and a lot of officers on the ferry's bridge. And his colleague was doing the same half in French and half in English. Half an hour later the French ferry's captain had the nerve - over the VHF radio  -  to blame us and hold the captain responsible to the accident. He did the same thing and asked him to explain were he was heading for. Good question as if we had not been there  and on that course they would have surely struck the sandbank right in front of them. After this episode we once more we continued our voyage for Mean and then back to Suez again. 

When nearing the entrance of the Gulf of Suez during daytime we saw frantic light signals coming from the lighthouse standing far away from shore with a lot of riffs and sandbanks around it. I was called to the bridge as nobody could decipher the code, but neither could I. It was some sort of random signalling it seemed. It was decided to investigate and we slowed down and crept up to the reefs and banks and the lighthouse, while constantly observing the echo sounder readings, as far as we dared. With a number of glasses the lighthouse and the surrounding area were searched. Somebody was waving from the lighthouse's tower with what seemed to be a towel. That probably was our signalman. It was then noticed that a small hull of a ship was lying on its side on one of the riffs separated from the lighthouse. Also some figures were discovered. A lifeboat was manned and lowered and sent to the location. They came back with three Egyptians who were in total distress and racked by the incident, the hot sun and the lack of drinking water. It seemed that the light keeper had been signalling for days to passing ships, day and night without any result. He was on his own for three months we were told and had no means of communication whatsoever. Also no boat as he could probably have saved them himself provided he had one. Nice. Three other Egyptians were left dead on the reef and the bodies were later recovered by the Egyptian navy. As it turned out these guys were all generals in the Egyptian army and navy making a pleasure cruise on a sailboat. We were met in style in Suez in style by all kinds of army and navy personnel. The captain received of all things a 'poof' for his help and a number of telegrams from the army and navy commands thanking him. The gratitude shown did not compensate for the time lost - more than half a day - but who cares in such cases. We did not know it yet, but pretty soon other international developments were to be met soon and would effect us directly.

The Suez Canal, opened in 1869, linked the Mediterranean and Red Sea and provided the shortest sea route eastwards from Europe. During the 20th century it became the major maritime passage for the global oil trade. It was owned and run by the Suez Canal Company, a jointly owned French and British company, which maintained the Suez Canal as a neutral waterway. By 1955, crude oil accounted for two-thirds of all the canal's traffic, and in turn two thirds of Europe's oil passed through it.  On the 26 July, 1956, Egypt's President Gamel Nasser nationalised the Suez Canal, thereby trapping a number of ships including the Statue of Liberty or Liberty Bell. I am not sure about that. I am still trying to find out.

This map will give you an idea about the Suez Canal's lay out. As you can see by the straight parts it is partly a dug canal and it also makes use of some natural lakes. 

The canal was broadened after the canal was reopened. Also the canal was dredged to a greater depth to let through bigger ships. This was often done from the shore with big Dutch dredging cranes. You could pick them out by the small Dutch flags which they were flying from the top. When passing them we used to wave cheerfully to one another: brothers in bond! As it was the W. Alton Jones could not fully load when passing the Suez Canal as the ship's depth was too large for the Canal requirements. 

The real thing as seen from a satellite. A lot of sand can be seen here! The Suez Canal is 195 km (121miles) long. The minimum bottom width of the channel is 60 m (197 ft) and ships of 16 m (53 ft) draft can make the transit.

The canal can accommodate ships as large as 150,000 dead weight tons fully loaded. It has no locks, because the Mediterranean Sea and the Gulf of Suez have roughly the same water level. The canal utilizes three bodies of water Lake Manzilah, Lake Timsāh, and the Bitter Lakes (the latter is actually one continuous body of water)—and is not the shortest distance across to the isthmus (narrow part of the canal/shore) . Most of the canal is limited to a single lane of traffic, but several passing bays exist, and two-lane bypasses are located in the Bitter Lakes and between Al Qanţarah and Ismailia, the so called Ballah Loop. Between Km. 51 and 61 the Canal is doubled in the East by a branch. The zone comprising the 2 branches of the Canal limited by the North and South ends where the 2 branches meet, is called "Ballah Loop". In the West branch, 15 mooring berths are situated on the Eastern bank and numbered South to North.  The length of the East Branch is 8.490 km. A railroad on the west bank runs parallel to the canal over its entire distance.

Not a ship in the middle of the desert, but one moored in the Ballah Loop. Quite a scene!

A short hostilities recap:

June 1956: In response to the harsh treatment of Egypt by the United States, Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal on July 26, 1956. As all British troops have left, Egyptian military moves into British installations.

1956 - Ferdinand de Lessep's statue was pulled down in Port Said, Egypt. Later the statue's pedestal was also removed. As it happened the Egyptians chose 2nd Christmas day to bring him down. Ferdinand de Lessep engineered and created the Suez Canal.


The Grandbassa sister ship of the W. Alton Jones, the "Statue of Liberty" was renamed after that famous statue in New York's harbour. Now read this:  

What does New York and Port Said, Egypt have in common? Originally, American's very own Statue of Liberty was to be placed not in New York but at Port Said. The Statue of Liberty was really inspired by the huge statues at Abu Simbel. Auguste Bartholdi, the sculptor of the statue designed the American Lady of Liberty as 'Egypt carrying the light of Asia'. However, the Khedive Ismail decided that the project was too expensive, so the 'Light of Asia' was sent to the US instead, where she became the Statue of Liberty.

Note 2: 

The sculptor who designed the Statue of Liberty, Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi, was born into a well-to-do middle-class family in Colmar, France, on August 2, 1834. Many people believed Charlotte Bartholdi (1801-1891) was the model for the statue. Others thought it was based on her son's early drawings for a never-commissioned statue in Egypt. The sculptor's true inspiration for his masterpiece remains a mystery. The statue was finished May 21, 1884, and formally presented to the U.S. minister to France, Levi Parsons Morton, July 4, 1884, by Ferdinand de Lesseps, head of the Franco-American Union, promoter of the Panama Canal, and builder of the Suez Canal!

July 26: Egypt nationalizes the Suez Canal.

October 31: France and Britain attacks Egypt, under the pretext that they want to open up the Canal for all vessels. Egypt answers with sinking the 40 ships that are inside the canal at the moment.

March 1957: Reopening of the canal, following UN actions to remove the sunk ships. The canal, blocked for more than six months because of damage and sunken ships, was cleared with UN help.

1962: All original shareholders are paid off!

June 5, 1967: In conjunction with the Six-Day War, Egypt closes the canal.

June 5, 1975: Reopening of the canal.

The nationalization of the canal took the world by surprise, especially the British and French stockholders who owned the Suez Canal Company. Although Nasser promised that the company would be compensated for its loss, Britain, France, and Israel began plotting to take back the canal and overthrow Nasser as well. Britain, France and Israel united in secret in what was to become known as the tripartite collusion, something that they denied publicly for many years. Israel opted to participate in the plans against Egypt to gain favour in the sight of western nations because the small developing nation was in constant fear of being overrun by Arab nations.

Anyway, whatever the story, for us the consequence was that we had to travel from Philadelphia via South Africa's Cape Good Hope to Mena and v.v.  It took three weeks to complete one leg and another three weeks for the return trip. In Mena al Ahmadi we were loaded within 12 hours (no allowed to go ashore, thank you) and back to Philadelphia where we remained less than one day. Nice. I did four trips in this manner! Nice. After that experience I had to leave the ship in a straightjacket yelling all the time that I was not mad at all...  Joke! We got extra supplies and one of the cargo tanks was sacrificed for carrying extra bunkers for our main turbine engine, which was a real thirsty contraption.  If I remember correctly we used 100 to 110 tons of fuel oil per day. Apart from the main engine and the two air co plants we also  had to fuel a drinking water plant, which converted seawater into drinking water. All officers had their own bathroom complete shower and toilet. That was, like the air co,  something special in those days. Water consumption was high but limitless at the expense of some fuel oil.

As stated above, for a simple Dutch unspoilt seaman these ships were not so bad, on the contrary. In the corridors all over the ship typical American ice water dispensers were installed at strategic positions and a ice cube machine for general use was available. Just scoop it out. There also was a fitness room aft with all kinds of equipment. We did not have clue in those days where that was good for and nobody ever used it I believe. Sissy stuff in the macho world on board ships. You did not want to get caught working out on one of those contraptions. Luxuries unknown on board Dutch ships.  My sleeping quarters were next to the Radio Room on the bridge deck.

Part of the RCA 5-U radio console in the Radio Room. The ship's international call sign was ELLT. There was  a separate telephony transmitter with selective calling device also made by RCA. See next picture.

Calling Wilmington Radio on the Delaware river near Philadelphia one discovered that they used an American spelling and not the international spelling as used in the rest of world. The only reaction to Echo Lima Lima Tango was please repeat over and over. I got hold of the American spelling and then everything checked out: Easy Love Love Tare!

This picture was taken from my cabin. The 5-U console is at the other side of the wall to the left of the door opening. The RCA telephony transmitter/receiver can be seen at the back of the wall.

And then the food. It was much better than what we were normally used to. We got American stores on board for which Cities Service Company or Grandbassa Tanker Company paid. The captain from Amsterdam used to ask everybody he met: Are your eating enough? Please do because the Americans are footing the bill! We got big  fruits at breakfast and apart from the traditional porridge, one could have any number of eggs, boiled or fried to order, with or without baked bacon and sausages. That was a new one, as on Dutch ships per regulation we got only three eggs a week and often two eggs for instance if we got a piece of cake during that week. It was explained then patiently by the chief steward that in order to bake a cake you need eggs, so there is your reason. No discussions on this ships about such trivialities. That felt good for a change and gave us extra strength to survive the awful long and boring trips around the Cape.

In the US in those days before we could moor the ship in Philadelphia at our jetty there was an interesting ritual which we had to participate in. We called it the 'Dick Parade'. We had to anchor in the Delaware River and a doctor came on board by means of a launch. All sailors, not the officers because they don't do naughty things, had to show their things to the doctor in the ship's office who made a careful study of it all. The ship was held up for several hours and time is money, crews waiting at the jetty and all that. The ship's agent then whispered into the captain ear that this situation could be remedied at the expense of a couple of bottles of good whiskey. We could not belief it, a doctor? Next time when the doctor came on board the captain took him first to the special hard liquor store in the amidships and asked him to accept a small token of our gratitude for his services. The doctor knew his stuff and took five of the best we had. He then showed his gratitude by signing the health bill without having seen one crew member. He also informed the captain that next time it was not necessary to anchor the ship as long as we steamed slowly so that he could get on and off the ship again with his precious gifts unbroken. Nothing new here, because a number of years ago the majority of the Amsterdam harbour pilots were on the take for ordering extra tug boats, which were not really needed for the job. They were compensated  for their trouble quite nicely by the local harbour tug boat company. Something you would not except either from a very well paid harbour pilot.

After one year on board I attended another docking period at Cadiz and tried to be on board the ship as little as possible. Now I could sight see the ancient city of Cadiz really good. I had not the urge to attend the bull fights in the arena again. Once was enough. We brought a lot of money to the Pay-Pay nightclub, a name well chosen I must admit. During the first few days a number of sailors disappeared. We thought they were on a lasting drinking spree. As it turned out the captain got a visit from the police with a nervous guy from the agency. They had been arrested on the train between Cadiz and Madrid. The idea was to go AWOL to Holland. They did not know that one needed a travel permit to travel from point A to point B to be issued by the local police authorities, who would then ask all kind of funny questions, like what your plans were at point B etc. I could have told them from experience. One the train police were asking everybody for travel permits, especially foreigners, all the time. The five or six sailors who had there short fling were put in jail and stayed there during the entire docking period and were brought onboard one hour before departure. They all looked terrible, grey and skinny and most of them, when descending from the gangway onto the deck,  broke on their knees and kissed the ship's deck! Franco's troopers stayed at the gangway until we sailed, just in case they wanted another run for their money. We later heard the stories about the unbelievable foul and cruel conditions which prevailed in the Spanish jail. That was once but never again for them. Everybody who had been on board as long as I, had seen it all now. That had inspired the unlucky sailors also I suppose. The captain felt that they were punished enough as it was and took no further action. Luckily I now was close to some leave, a couple of months even.

An incident about which I heard only yesterday, June 18 2004, was that the "W. Alton Jones" drifted with a breakdown of some sort in the South Atlantic  in position 6° 07' S and  19°  05' W.  This is in the vicinity of the island of St Helena.  Many things can go wrong on such a ship for instance one or more of the rotor blades of the turbine are damaged, a defective boiler, a lost or damaged propellor, a broken propellor shaft or a defective steering engine and so on. The steel towing wire seems rather thin in the picture but in reality it is 5˝ inches in diameter!

The Dutch tugboat "Zwarte Zee" meaning "Black Sea" of the Dutch tug and salvage company Smit, had arrived at Portugal's capital Lisbon on December 14, 1959, but got orders to proceed to the helpless "W. Alton Jones". The tug connected to the tanker on December 23, 1959 the day before Christmas.  The tug's crew stated later that, when they approached, they saw a gigantic iron rock slowing rising up from the sea and that they were much impressed with the size of the ship. The tanker was on another trip from the Persian Gulf to Philadelphia. From this I understand that even after the reopening of the Suez Canal the ship and probably also the sister ships, were still travelling around the Cape of Good Hope. Canal transit costs are very high and probably this was more cost effective compared to the extra cargo they could load now, despite the extra fuel costs necessary for the longer trip round Cape Good Hope. 

It took the "Zwarte Zee" a good 4 hours just to bring the tanker around into the direction of the Mona Passage near Puerto Rico!! A couple of days later Smit's tugboat Hudson arrived to assist and speed things up. After 14 days also the "Barendsz Zee" joined in. 

On Saturday, January 16, 1960 the convoy reached the rendezvous point off the Dominican Republic.  There a T-2 tanker was waiting to lighten the ship so that it would be able to enter Newport News, the port where the Jones and the other sister ships were built, for the repairs to the main engine. On Friday, January 22 both the "Zwarte Zee" and "Barendsz Zee" and of course the "W. Alton Jones" continued the voyage. The Hudson had been sent off to another job. However, more trouble was waiting ahead. The transport ran into very bad weather during the last leg of the trip. On Sunday January 31 the captain of the "W. Alton Jones" reported that a number of crew members were severely injured and one   -   the boatswain  -  even killed due to the enormous swaying motions of the ship. A rare and very curious incident indeed. It seemed that the boatswain and a number of sailors tried to control and fasten a number of barrels who got loose in the space under the fore deck. Probably the barrels were full and became deadly projectiles when the ship was swaying heavily. No way that a man or men can stop such heavy weights when running wild. The person  -  André Koss  -  who gave me this information was on board the "Zwarte Zee" at the time and met the boatswain during the lightening operation. The unfortunate boatswain, who was a couple of months away from retirement, showed him and some other crew members around on the "W. Alton Jones". The day after the deadly incident Monday, February 1 the towing wire broke at 08.45 hours and reconnection could only be made with great effort on the following day. Much to the relieve of everybody the ship arrived at last at Newport News on Thursday, February 4, 1960. The "Zwarte Zee" was rushed off to Boston to tow the discarded mothball aircraft carrier "Kasaan Bay"  -   completed in December 1943 for the U.S. Navy with code number CVE 69   -   to Hamburg, Germany were it was to be scrapped. Never a dull moment in a tug's crew life!      

With thanks for the above information to Aad van Staveren and André Koss.

The W. Alton Jones which was delivered to the Owners on June 14, 1954 at the Newport News Shipbuilding Yard and has gotten the privilege of a second life as the drilling vessel Ocean Clipper. Good for her!

The Statue of Liberty was delivered from the same yard on August 16, 1954 and scrapped in 1983

The Cradle of Liberty was delivered at October 15, 1954 and scrapped in 1995

The Liberty Bell was delivered at December 12, 1954 and scrapped in 1977

This is Diamond Offshore Drilling, Inc's  Mobile Offshore Drilling Unit (MODU) Ocean Clipper which after upgrades or retrofits of several systems including the propulsion and the Dynamic Positioning control system was able to drill in very deep water. Oops, what have they done to my beautiful W. Alton Jones? 

The conversion of the W. Alton Jones to a drill ship was done in 1977 by Mitsubishi Shipyard in Japan. The new name was then "Wodeco IX". In 1996 Diamond Offshore began converting the drill ship into a DP vessel in preparation for contracted drilling in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM). The ship was equipped with 5 each 2,325 hp tunnel thrusters; one 2,500 hp azimuthing thrusters and  two 7,500 hp main screws.  The water depth in which the ship can drill is 7,500 ft and the drilling depth  25,000 ft. Probably at that moment the Wodeco IX was renamed to Ocean Clipper. The Ocean Clipper set the new record by drilling a GOM well for Marathon in more than 7,200 ft of water. The GOM well exceeded the previous turnkey water depth record, set in 1994 for a well drilled by Diamond Off shore's semi Ocean Voyager in 2,100 ft of water. Well I knew it, never mess with the best! That's my girl all right......

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