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Operations up to Site M0005

Mobilization of the DP Hunter

Mobilization of the DP Hunter took place in two stages; the first stage was in Tampa, Florida (28 August–5 September 2005), and the second stage was during the port call in Papeete, Tahiti (5–6 October).

The first stage involved shipping of contractor drilling equipment and European Consortium for Ocean Research Drilling (ECORD) Science Operator (ESO) laboratory and ancillary equipment from Europe to Tampa. After all equipment had arrived and cleared customs, the vessel came on charter and was converted into a drilling vessel in just over 6 days. The Tampa Bay Shipyard Company provided port services, welders, and crane drivers. Seacore engineers carried out all engineering work and rig building and certified the load testing of key structures. During the period of rig construction, ESO staff from the British Geological Survey (BGS) unloaded equipment from containers, set up a shipboard computer network, and connected power and water to laboratories. They also made safe the walkways and core inspection areas on board with the drilling contractor. The ESO Operations Superintendent was also responsible for overseeing the entire load testing of key structural components of the rig. Verification of these milestone points were required to trigger contract stage payments. During this period of mobilization, we were pleased to receive a visit from Dr. Manik Talwani, President of IODP Management International, Inc. (IODP-MI), and Dr. Jamie Allan of the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF).

Transit to Papeete, Tahiti

Mobilization work continued during the passage to Panama (5–13 September 2005), where ESO personnel disembarked. Some Seacore personnel continued on the passage to Tahiti, completing their mobilization en route (13 September–5 October).

Port call in Papeete, Tahiti

The second stage of mobilization took place on 5–6 October 2005 during the port call in Papeete. Some airfreight items for the expedition were taken on board during the port call; winches for logging and some equipment for the microbiology laboratory were loaded on deck. For this stage of mobilization, the complete ESO team was available. All laboratories and office spaces were networked with computers, the Offshore Drilling Information System (OffshoreDIS) was set up, onboard equipment was laid out, and a satellite-based e-mail system was installed.

At 0900 h on 6 October, the expedition scientists joined the DP Hunter. A visit to the DP Hunter was arranged for local schoolchildren and the press for 1 h in the morning. In the afternoon, a project-specific safety briefing was held by the Operations Superintendent and Seacore Offshore Manager. Following this, a science meeting was held to discuss the core work flow in detail. By 1830 h, mobilization was complete, and the vessel commenced day rate operations. The DP Hunter departed for the first site (Site M0005) at 1930 h on 6 October after spending 36 h in port.