Noble Corporation drillship crew evacuated several days after Hurricane Ida

Spouse of crewmember believes husband's life was put at risk when Ida made landfall on Sunday

Briana Conner Image
Thursday, September 2, 2021
Noble Corporation drillship crew evacuated several days after Ida
The spouse of a crewmember believes her husband's life was put at risk when Hurricane Ida made landfall on Sunday.

GRAND ISLE, Louisiana (KTRK) -- Some crew members who were stranded in the Gulf of Mexico during Hurricane Ida on an ultra-deepwater drillship are finally headed to Houston.

This is according to the spouse of a crew member who said she believes her husband's life was put at risk when Ida made landfall on Sunday.

The Category 4 storm battered the ship stationed off the coast of Louisiana, injuring some crew members and leaving their loved ones angry and afraid.

"They just left people out there to fend for themselves, and it just makes me so angry," the woman said, who wished to remain anonymous out of fear that Noble Corporation would retaliate against her husband.

The crew on board the Noble Globetrotter II was not evacuated ahead of Hurricane Ida, though Noble Corporation said the rig did take "evasive actions" to avoid the storm's path.

Video provided to ABC13 shows how close in proximity Ida came to the crew.

Those actions by Noble weren't near enough for the woman who is married to a man who was on board when waves began knocking over equipment and water began intruding inside the boat.

"I might not be a big corporation owner, or have the money they have, but I could never take someone's life for granted like that," she said.

After seeing images of damage on social media, the U.S. Coast Guard sent a helicopter and a vessel.

"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," Coast Guard representatives said in a statement.

That claim did not line up with the messages the woman was receiving from her husband either.

She said she didn't hear from him at all for three horror-filled hours.

"At that point, I'm like, 'Are you okay?' He's like, 'Yes, but the damage is bad. I don't know how to tell you, but it felt like that was it. It felt like I wasn't going to see you again,'" said the woman.

Noble Corporation did not respond directly to ABC13's questions, but said in a statement late Wednesday that all personnel are now safe and accounted for.

"Noble is in frequent communication with the ship's crew and is working to facilitate additional transport for some crew members to shore, as well as replacement personnel to support ongoing operations," company representatives said. "The living quarters of the vessel continue to function normally with food service, climate-control, water, power, and internet systems functional."

Noble administrators said nine crew members were hurt, but the injuries were minor. Four people were transported to shore to be evaluated.

"I'm angry most of all. If my husband is gone, that's it. All they're going to tell me is sorry," said the woman.

That anger turned into relief as some crew members were airlifted off the damaged ship. The woman said she was driving to Mississippi to pick her husband up Wednesday night.

The vessel sustained damage to a cofferdam, but Noble officials said it wasn't critical to its stability or safety.

According to a statement issued by Noble Corporation on Thursday, the company confirms the ship did sustain damage due to the storm.

"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."