Dispatch From the Deepwater Horizon Site

Sunday, I was invited to accompany an NBC News crew, led by Kerry Sanders, to report live from the site of the Deepwater Horizon blowout site in the Gulf of Mexico.  We departed last evening, about 5:30, from Port Fourchon, Louisiana, arriving on site about 4 am today.  Our ship, the OSV (offshore service vessel) Skye Falgout, is a 236 foot service vessel that normally carries pipe and supplies to offshore rigs, but today has aboard NBC's Bloom Mobile, named for David Bloom, the NBC reporter who died covering the invasion of Iraq in 2003.  It is a specially designed vehicle, using a seeking satellite antenna, that NBC now uses for their hurricane coverage.

We parked off of the site about 5 miles when we first arrived, reporting for the Weather Channel, the Today Show, and Morning Joe from there.  We were boarded by a Coast Guard captain later in the morning, who guided us to within 2 miles of the operation.  We will be here the rest of the day, reporting on MSNBC, and finally NBC Nightly News. 

Impressive doesn't describe the scene here.  With three semi-submersibles plus the drillship Enterprise, this is probably the most intense drilling effort in the history of offshore exploration.  Thirty some ships are in support, including supply boats, ROV boats and the ever-present skimmers.  Oil is everywhere, and we've been in and out of it all day long.  Some oil is reddish brown, the weathered oil you've seen on television, but much of it is dispersed and floats on the water in iridescent sheets with with strands of chemical just below the surface.  The smell is strong, and I'm really glad to have a nice breeze, though it makes for a bit of chop in the water.

The two relief wells continue to drill ahead, with the first relief well, being drilled by the Development Driller III, within 2,000 feet of it's objective.  I would expect them to run at least one more string of casing before trying to communicate with the blowout well, probably in the next couple of weeks. 

We talked with the Coast Guard captain this morning, and he spoke of the workers on all the vessels out here.  He said that they are very aware that they are working at the gravesite of the 11 workers who died in the blowout on April 20, and are very respectful of that fact.  He said they feel isolated out here, with all of the coverage about the devastation on the beaches and wetlands of the Gulf Coast, and little coverage about their efforts.  He's right; we can't forget those who push ahead, even amidst the anguish and destruction.

I'll try to post again later, but the internet, as you can imagine, comes and goes a bit out here.