Saturday, May 29, 2010

First Blog!

Hey everyone,

This is my first blog, hope yall enjoy it. I started a blog for those of you who want to know exactly what I am doing down here. The first question folks usually ask me is how did I come about getting this job. Well, while attending USA I took a field study, which had an optional extra portion of the class call hazwoper training, not to many students took it because its miserable. But I heard it would help get me a job, so I decided to take the course. Hazwoper stands for Hazardous Waster Operations Emergency Response, in a nut shell its training to deal with bad chemicals. While dealing with those bad chemicals, I had to wear a tyvek suit on top of my work clothes, its like being wrapped in plastic. Anyway, back to the oil spill. On April 20th, an oil rig blew up just south of Venice, Louisana. Being in geology we all kept a close eye on what was going on. Then it hit me I had just been trained for this last summer, so I put a resume together posted it on the internet, and Bingo! I had job offers come flooding in, (if any of you want to work down here that's literally all you need. OSHA 40 Hazwoper training check it out).

I got a job with a labor company who informed me I would be on a ship the entire time. So we set out to Louisana to get aboard. Well thats when plans changed and I was driving to Gulfport on a early friday morning. We arrived looking for a ship that was going to pick us up. We came to the only ship there that was not a cargo ship and figured this has to be it. Someone yelled to a deckhand, Are yall the ones waiting on a crew? They replied, " Yes come on aboard." We boarded a narrow gangway with luggage in tow. Everyone set there stuff on the deck. It was a boat straight out of Deadliest catch. Long deck with no back end, so that crab traps and ropes could slide right off into the water. The capt. invited us into the galley and explained several safety issues, then turned it over to the cook. The cook made a big deal about his galley, the do's and don'ts. We ate breakfast and then everyone went back out to get there luggage and find there way to a bunk. That's when the capt. realized we are not the crew that he was waiting on. So we got off with a free meal.

Finally, we figure out in the confusion, we are not going on a ship anymore, we are working on the docks building SupSalv Navy Marcos Skimmers. They were in peices like a giant erector set. A crane would lift peices as we would fit them together. By lunch time, my team had put 3 of them together. After lunch my friend Peter, (Peter is a classmate of mine who I dragged along to keep me company, who consequently has quit) came to me and said that 4 of us were moving to Pascagoula. I have been here in Pascagoula ever since.

I work here in Pascagoula, in conjunction with BP and the Coast Guard, operating the same boats I was putting together the very first day. The ship is approx. 30 foot long and maybe 10 feet wide its not big at all. Most of the equipment takes up all the room on board. there is no where comfortable to sit and to make it worse there is very little shade, (though we have added a tent but it covers the equipment more than us. To sum it up, the boat has to be pulled through the water by 2 other vessels who tow us with boom lines, (Booms are inflatable bouys that are used to corral and funnel the oil directly to our ship). We have hired 2 shrimp boats to pull us. Once the oil is pushed toward our boat, we lower a treadmill looking belt into the water that slowly spins pullin the oil and some seawater aboard, then drops it into a storage tank below. Once our storage tank is full we decant the water off of the oil we just collected, then pump the oil into a bladder that is dragging behind the boat. The bladder can hold up to 50,000 gallons of oil before needing to be emptied. So far we have only been practicing I have yet to actually skim any oil.

My day starts at 5am, we have 2 spud barges (lift barges) that support us if we ever go out for extended periods. My crew has been broken into 2 teams because we have 2 boats. So half my team meets on one barge the other on the other. I always have to race to the wrong barge every morning because they have a better cook, and I have to eat breakfast and get back to my barge before our safety meeting starts. Safety meetings are fairly short we discuss goals for the day and ways to stay safe. Same old same old. After that we go to our boats prep them and take them out. We stay out for 3 or so hours then come back and prepping them for docking takes about 3 hours. It's very tedious and sometimes very boring, but the feed us well, and pay us well. And I am tired of writing More to come. AND PICTURES! All you english majors point out the mistakes and I will fix them.

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