Coast Guard monitoring damaged drilling rig in Gulf of Mexico

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HOUSTON — The Coast Guard is overseeing response efforts for an offshore drilling rig that began taking on water into a ballast tank after a large wave hit them in heavy seas more than 100 miles south of Galveston.

Tuesday morning the Coast Guard received a report that the ENSCO 8506, an offshore semi-submersible drilling rig, had been damaged causing one of the rig’s column ballast tanks to take on water. The capacity of the ballast pumps onboard are keeping up with the ingress of water in the column ballast tank. The rig is maintaining an even keel and remains in a stable position without resorting to using the emergency pumps, or performing an emergency disconnect from the riser.

There are no reports of injuries or pollution.

The rig was conducting exploratory operations and did not have any oil product onboard from drilling operations. The drilling rig is operating in an area with a 3,800-foot water depth and was not conducting actual drilling operations when the incident occurred. All rig operations have been suspended and preparations are being made for normal disconnect procedures if necessary to make repairs.

The Coast Guard has deployed the Coast Guard Cutter Skipjack, homeported in Galveston, and an aircrew aboard an HU-25 Falcon airplane from Coast Guard Air Station Corpus Christi to provide on-site intelligence and to assist if necessary.

The onscene weather Tuesday afternoon was 20 knot sustained winds and 12 foot seas.

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