HOUSTON, TX – At the United States Coast Guard Hearing, USCG, in Houston, Texas, on Wednesday, August 25, 2010, the flag state Marshall Islands for the Deepwater Horizon stunned the Deepwater Horizon Joint Investigation Task Force when it admitted that the there had been a “clerical error” in 2004 when it issued the Minimum Safe Manning Certificate [MSMC] for a self propelled mobile offshore drilling unit instead of a mobile offshore drilling unit that is also a dynamically positioned vessel [MODU-DPV]. Steve Gordon has always maintained that the vessel should have been classified as a DPV and that it was, in fact, misclassified.
This admission of fault is significant because Transocean has continued to maintain that when the BOP and riser are down on the seabed floor that the Offshore Installation Manager, OIM, is in charge and in command of the vessel not the captain. Transocean’s OIM’s are not licensed mariners and certainly do not hold an unlimited tonnage mariner’s license. This organizational structure is the way that Transocean operates all its dynamically positioned vessels and drill ships in the Gulf of Mexico. The only problem is that a classification of a vessel in the Marshal Islands means that the Captain must be in charge and in command when it is on location not an OIM [unless the captain and the OIM are the same person].
It was, in fact, this lack of a captain in control at the time of this emergency that was a contributing cause to the Deepwater Horizon disaster.