ASME honors first floating offshore drilling rig

By: Staff and Wire Reports
An international society of engineers is naming the nation’s first floating offshore oil drilling rig a historic mechanical engineering landmark.

The American Society of Mechanical Engineers will hold a ceremony Saturday at 11 a.m. at the Mr. Charlie drilling rig in Morgan City, where it is now a museum and training facility.

“Mr. Charlie’s success initiated the modern offshore oil and gas industry,” says ASME in a bronze plaque to be presented to the International Petroleum Museum and Exposition.

Mr. Charlie was built in 1952-53 and drilled hundreds of wells in the Gulf of Mexico between 1954 and 1986.

“It is definitely something that’s deserved by not only the rig, but also by Alden “Doc” Laborde, who designed the rig,” said museum President Virgil Allen.

Its drills and other machinery were on a 220-foot floating barge so it could be towed from place to place. When it was over a drill site, its giant pontoons were flooded with seawater, so it sat on the sand for safe drilling.

It worked in waters averaging 40 feet, and became obsolete when the industry began drilling in deeper waters.

The 250 ASME landmarks range from mills and steam engines to industrial processes and space rockets, representing progress in the evolution of mechanical engineering and significance to society in general. Through its Landmarks Program, ASME encourages the preservation of historically important works.

“We appreciate the honor. It is something very unique and historic. To get that designation is an honor. They don’t just give those away,” Allen said.

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