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WOTAN Joins E.P. PAUP Offshore

Three derrick barges stationed at a Marine Yard on a Bayou
Manson’s derrick barges E.P. PAUP (left), HAAKON (middle), and WOTAN (right) stationed at the Houma Yard. Photo credit: Dave McPeak—Tower Operator

Preparing for a season of offshore work takes a collaborative effort from Manson’s Offshore Group in Houma, LA, to ensure crews are work-ready for platform installation and decommissioning jobs in the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf).

In addition to the E.P. PAUP—Manson’s largest offshore derrick barge—Offshore Construction Manager Brandt Stagni and Port Engineer Jay Price have choreographed and supported crews to prepare the derrick barge WOTAN, which joined the E.P. PAUP offshore for the first time since 2016. “The E.P. PAUP’s schedule has been booked up for the last several years,” Brandt explains. “It made sense to bring back the WOTAN to help with the number of jobs in the Gulf.”

A Bit of History

Manson previously worked both the E.P. PAUP and WOTAN from 2010 to 2016 to decommission oil platforms for the oil and gas industry. At that time, the WOTAN living quarters had reached the end of its service life and the WOTAN was repurposed. The vessel was fitted with modular quarters on the deck and provided housing for the crew of the ROBERT M WHITE cutter suction dredge on a project located in a remote region of the Atchafalaya River in Louisiana. The WOTAN went on to perform several heavy lift and marine construction projects, including hoisting more than two dozen 400-ton concrete blocks during demolition at the Marine Corps Support Facility, Blount Island, Concrete Sill Removal project in Florida.

A derrick barge moving equipment
Crews at Manson’s Houma, LA, marine yard prepared the WOTAN for the offshore season, including the installation of new living quarters. Photo credit: Dave McPeak—Tower Operator

Preparation Matters

Before the start of the 2023 offshore season (typically May to November), members from the equipment group, business operations group, and crew from the E.P. PAUP and WOTAN collaborated to ensure both rigs received significant upgrades for a successful season in the Gulf. New living quarters were installed on the WOTAN to offer shelter for personnel against the rough seas, extreme heat, high winds, and storms that are regular features of life in the Gulf. “It’s been a long time since the WOTAN has been offshore, and it’s taken a lot of preparation to get it ready,” says WOTAN Superintendent Nick Woods. “We had to get new living quarters to face the type of conditions that the Gulf presents and provide a comfortable and safe living space for the crew. In addition to the new quarters, crews installed several appurtenances to the WOTAN, including air lifts, a grocery box landing, a welding box, walkways, and a laundry room.”

For the E.P. PAUP, Electrician Jason Johnson says that it was mostly business as usual when preparing the barge for the work season, but the preparation window was shorter. “We came back to the Houma yard in January, two months later than we usually do in November, because we had more jobs to complete last season,” he says. “It’s our responsibility to work efficiently and quickly to prepare the E.P. PAUP.”

Of the typical wear and tear components on the E.P. PAUP that are regularly maintained or replaced, the vessel’s biggest upgrade this season was the replacement and installation of a new helideck. “To suit the needs of our clients in the Gulf, we needed to replace the undersized helideck on the vessel,” says E.P. PAUP Superintendent Ray Martinez. “The helideck is an important feature because it allows our clients to monitor the job site for marine mammals so they can let us know that it is safe to start removing the large oil platforms in the Gulf.”

It's About Our People

Despite the tight deadline, the crews worked together to meet a string of milestones to prepare both rigs to head out into the Gulf. “What has made this very successful is the collaboration between the Equipment Group, the Operations Group, and some of the guys in the field,” explains Senior Vice President and Gulf and East Coast Regional Manager John Roques. “The work we’ve completed is the culmination of the talent and professionalism of the staff and craft personnel we have here in the organization.”

This season has brought back familiar faces and added some new ones to the crews of the E.P. PAUP and WOTAN, Jason explains. “The returning crews have done a good job helping new members transition into their roles.”

The mix of personalities on both rigs has created a unique fellowship amongst the crews. One of the key components of success for the E.P. PAUP and WOTAN was the collective mindset of encouraging veterans and newcomers to work as one big team rather than two separate crews, according to Deck Foreman Anthony Knox, affectionately known as “Big A.”

“Everybody is learning and with the new guys, it’s important to help them understand what we have to do,” Big A says. “We have to blend in and make sure these guys ‘come in with it.’ We will work with them to make sure they are safe and have everything they need to get the work done.”

A tug boat towing a derrick barge through an open bridge
The WOTAN passing through the Bayou Dularge bridge in Houma, LA. Photo credit: Dave McPeak—Tower Operator

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