|C.P. Baker Drilling Barge|
|30 June 1964|
|Block 273, Eugene Island, Gulf of Mexico|
|Pan American Petroleum Corporation|
The C.P. Baker was a catarman-type drilling barge, constructed in 1962 by Reading & Bates using two Navy YF-type hulls originally built in 1945. The hulls were 260 feet long and joined together with a steel framework, on top of which were a drilling package situated aft, a pipedeck midships and a helideck in the forward area. Two cranes were also onboard, located on the outboard edge of each hull and eight anchors were used to keep the vessel in position. On the night of the accident, two support vessels were moored next to the C.P. Baker: the M/V Delta Service alongside and M/V Mr. Jake moored outboard.
On 29 June 1964, the crew of the C.P. Baker began drilling its twenty-second well since being constructed: a new 10,000 foot well in the Eugene Island Area. By the early hours of 30 June, the 30" guide pipe was in place and the 26" hole had been drilled down to 684 ft BRT. The crew were preparing to run the 20" conductor and BOPs when, at around 0300 hours in the morning, the water around the vessel began to bubble, boil and eventually geyser up with some force between the hulls of the C.P Baker. Water entered the the vessel through open doors on the main deck and electric power was soon lost. Members of the on-duty crew attempted notify the off-duty crew of the blowout but an explosion occurred about five minutes after the blowout was first noticed. The explosion and fire was described as encompassing the whole vessel, and covered an area up to 100 feet around the vessel.
Most survivors evacuated the vessel by jumping from the port bow, after which the two support vessels pulled away from the burning C.P. Baker and began picking up survivors from the water. As a result of erupting water entering the hulls through open doors, the vessel began to heel aft and, after around 30 minutes, C.P. Baker sank by the stern. Gas continued to erupt and burn for the following 13 hours, with limited gas release continuing for the following month.
Of the 43 crew on board, eight were confirmed dead with 13 missing, presumed dead and 22 injured. On board the M/V Delta Service, one crew member was killed and another injured. The vessel itself was found upside-down by divers the following month. Three craters were also observed nearby, up to 20 feet across and caused by the blowout.
USCG: Marine Casualty Report
Kingdom Drilling Services: Milestones and influences in US offshore history (1947-1997)