Drillship Accidents

Drill ship on water

Serious Injuries Can Occur as a Result of Drillship Accidents

Drilling ships are special purpose vessels that are used for exploratory drilling and the extraction of oil and gas at sea. These ships generally include a drilling derrick, mooring system and a moon pool (a hole in the center of the ship) and are often equipped with a helipad, dynamic positioning systems (DPS) and other equipment to help support offshore drilling operations. The machinery on these types of vessels is used in deep water operations, ranging from 2,000 feet to over 10,000 feet. Unlike semi-submersible and jack-up rigs, drill ships offer tremendous mobility and can sail quickly between different drilling site operations.

While drilling operations may utilize highly advanced and sophisticated technologies, working on a drill ship is still a dangerous job. Serious injuries, including deaths, can occur from risky and hazardous conditions, including:

  • Poorly maintained or faulty equipment
  • Collisions with other ships and watercraft
  • Inadequately trained crew
  • Negligent third parties or contractors
  • Ladder and stair falls
  • Oil-based drilling mud spills
  • Slip & falls on drilling floor
  • Fires and explosions
  • Hazardous weather conditions
  • Machinery failures

What You Need to Do After a Drill Ship Accident

If you have been injured in a drill ship accident you need to talk with a Texas offshore injury lawyer as soon as possible. The laws and rules governing drill ship injuries are extremely complicated. If you fail to take the correct action within the deadline set forth under the law, you could ruin your chance for a recovery. In addition to your pain and suffering, your injuries could threaten your ability to ever return to your job. With so much at stake, you need to be sure you are working with a seasoned Texas drillship accident attorney who has extensive experience handling legal claims under the Jones Act and General Maritime Laws.

When you work with the Willis Law Firm we will make certain you have the information you need to take the right legal actions. We have more than 40 years of experience helping injured workers, seaman and other maritime workers obtain maximum financial recoveries.

If your injury occurred while working on a drill ship, your claim is likely to fall under the Jones Act. This means in addition to collecting maintenance and cure benefits from your employer, you may also be able to file a lawsuit against your employer if your employer was negligent. In a Jones Act negligence case, you will be able to seek recovery for pain and suffering, past and future lost wages, disability and disfigurement, past and future medical care and other damages associated with your injuries.

In addition to your claims against your employer, you may have the right to file lawsuits against other third parties or contractors responsible for your injuries, including the owner of the drilling ship, product manufacturers and suppliers, and companies responsible for maintaining and repairing equipment on your drillship or vessel. Our firm will carefully review your accident to identify all parties that should be held legally accountable for your injuries.

Contact Us Today to Discuss Your Jones Act Claims with an Experienced Texas Drill Ship Accident Attorney

When you are injured in a drill ship accident it can be hard to figure what you should do. A good first step is to schedule a consultation with an experienced Houston maritime injury attorney. The Willis Law Firm offers free, confidential consultations to injured crew members and other maritime employees. We are an experienced maritime injury law firm that is committed to making the legal process as simple and easy as possible for our clients. Call us today at 1-800-468-4878 to discuss your case.

Examples of Recent and Newsworthy Drillship Accidents

Due to the wide variety of potential issues onboard, serious and fatal accidents involving drillships are common. Here are some examples of recent and newsworthy drillship accidents that occurred off of the U.S. coasts and around the world.

Explosion Onboard Odebrecht SA NS 32 Drillship Injures Four

In 2017, Reuters reported an explosion onboard an NS 32 drillship operated by Odebrecht SA under the authority of Brazil’s state-controlled oil company, Petroleo Brasileiro SA. According to the report, the explosion left three crew members suffering from burns and one other crew member suffering from mild injuries. Fortunately, the drillship remained in operable condition and the explosion did not lead to a fire in the oil field—which could have increased the financial, environmental and human costs of the explosion substantially.

Drillship Worker Killed During Drillship’s Exploratory Operations in the Gulf of Mexico

Also in 2017, a floor hand was killed during a drillship’s exploratory operations approximately 250 miles offshore of Lake Charles, Louisiana in the Gulf of Mexico. According to reports, the floor hand was struck in the head by a pipe while the pipe assembly was being lowered to the seafloor. An investigation conducted by the U.S. Coast Guard and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) found that several preventable factors played a role in the floor hand’s death, and news reports indicate that the owner of the drillship, the Pacific Santa Ana, filed suit against the vessel’s pipe-handling equipment supplier after the fatal accident.

Deepwater Asgard Drillship Accident During Hurricane Attributed to Multiple Failures

The ultra-deepwater drillship Deepwater Asgard sustained “major damage” during Hurricane Zeta in the Gulf of Mexico in October 2020. Although gCaptain initially reported that there were no injuries, at least one crewmember has filed a lawsuit as a result of the accident.

A BSEE investigation found that “[u]ltimately human error was the culprit,” as the decision was made to keep the Deepwater Asgard connected to a well during the storm. Based on the outcome of its investigation, BSEE issued updated recommendations for how drillship operators should handle similar situations in the future.

Equipment Falls from Drillship Onto Underwater Oil and Gas Wellhead

In 2021, the ultra-deepwater drillship Deepwater Pontus reportedly dropped a blowout preventer (BOP) onto an oil and gas wellhead during routine operations. Preliminary investigations determined that a riser broke above the BOP’s flex joint. While no injuries were reported, this type of accident presents extreme risks for crewmembers onboard the drillship and those working below.

Valaris Drillship Collides with Another Vessel After Becoming Unmoored

In 2022, a drillship owned by Valaris and scheduled to drill for Occidental collided with another ship at port when it broke free of its moorings in high winds. While no injuries were initially reported, the collision caused significant damage to both the Valaris drillship and the other vessel involved, and injuries could easily occur in similar accidents in the future if crewmembers are onboard one of the vessels or working near the moorings when they break free.



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