Ocean Odyssey

Ocean Odyssey

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L/P Odyssey is a self-propelled semi-submersible
A semi-submersible is a specialised marine vessel with good stability and seakeeping characteristics. The semi-submersible vessel design is commonly used in a number of specific offshore roles such as for offshore drilling rigs, safety vessels, oil production platforms and heavy lift cranes.The...

 mobile spacecraft
A spacecraft or spaceship is a craft or machine designed for spaceflight. Spacecraft are used for a variety of purposes, including communications, earth observation, meteorology, navigation, planetary exploration and transportation of humans and cargo....

 launch platform converted from a mobile drilling rig in 1997.

The vessel is currently used by Sea Launch
Sea Launch
Sea Launch is a spacecraft launch service that uses a mobile sea platform for equatorial launches of commercial payloads on specialized Zenit 3SL rockets...

 for equatorial Pacific Ocean
Pacific Ocean
The Pacific Ocean is the largest of the Earth's oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic in the north to the Southern Ocean in the south, bounded by Asia and Australia in the west, and the Americas in the east.At 165.2 million square kilometres in area, this largest division of the World...

 launches. She works in concert with the assembly and control ship Sea Launch Commander
Sea Launch Commander
Sea Launch Commander is the command ship for Sea Launch. It was built by Kvaerner Govan Ltd, at Govan shipyard, in Glasgow, Scotland. It is registered in Liberia.- Technical parameters:...

. Her home port is the Port of Long Beach
Port of Long Beach
The Port of Long Beach, also known as Long Beach’s Harbor Department, is the 2nd busiest container port in the USA. It adjoins the separate Port of Los Angeles. Acting as a major gateway for U.S.-Asian trade, the port occupies of land with of waterfront in the city of Long Beach, California...

 in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...


In her current form, Odyssey is 436 feet (132.9 m) long and about 220 feet (67.1 m) wide, with an empty draft displacement of 30000 short tons (26,785.6 LT), and a submerged draft displacement of 50600 short tons (45,178.4 LT). The vessel has accommodations for 68 crew and launch system personnel, including living, dining, medical and recreation facilities. A large, environmentally-controlled hangar stores the rocket during transit and then rolls it out and erects it prior to fueling and launch.


The platform was built in 1982 for Ocean Drilling & Exploration Company (ODECO)
Ocean Drilling & Exploration Company was a pioneering offshore drilling company formed by Alden J. "Doc" LaBorde and John Hayward in May 1953.-Early years:...

 by Sumitomo Heavy Industries
Sumitomo Heavy Industries
Sumitomo Heavy Industries, Ltd. is an integrated manufacturer of industrial machinery, automatic weaponry, ships, bridges and steel structure, equipment for environmental protection, including recycling, power transmission equipment, plastic molding machines, laser processing systems, particle...

. It drilled its first exploratory hole about 40 miles (64.4 km) south of Yakutat
Yakutat City and Borough, Alaska
Yakutat City and Borough is a unified city-borough in the U.S. state of Alaska. As of the 2010 census, the population was 4035. The name is Tlingit, Yaakwdáat, meaning "the place where canoes rest", but it originally derives from an Eyak name diyaʼqudaʼt and was influenced by the Tlingit word...

 for ARCO
Atlantic Richfield Company is an oil company with operations in the United States as well as in Indonesia, the North Sea, and the South China Sea. It has more than 1,300 gas stations in the western part of the United States. ARCO was originally formed by the merger of East Coast-based Atlantic...

 Alaska, Inc. The rig cost about to build during the early eighties oil "boom".

During construction the vessel was called Ocean Ranger II, and was renamed Ocean Odyssey after the Ocean Ranger
Ocean Ranger
Ocean Ranger was a semi-submersible mobile offshore drilling unit that sank in Canadian waters on 15 February 1982. It was drilling an exploration well in the Grand Banks area, east of St. John's, Newfoundland, for Mobil Oil of Canada, Ltd. with 84 crew members on board when it sank...

 capsized with all hands lost during a storm off Newfoundland on February 15, 1982.

When built, Ocean Odyssey was classed +A1 +AMS by the American Bureau of Shipping
American Bureau of Shipping
The American Bureau of Shipping is a classification society, with a mission to promote the security of life, property and the natural environment, primarily through the development and verification of standards for the design, construction and operational maintenance of marine-related facilities...

 for unrestricted worldwide ocean service. She was a 390 feet (118.9 m) long, 226 feet (68.9 m) wide, twin-hull design with a 12450 hp propulsion system. The rig's structure was designed to simultaneously withstand 100 knots (196 km/h) winds, 110 feet (33.5 m) waves, and a 3 knots (5.9 km/h) current. The derrick was fully enclosed with a heated drill floor permitting operations down to -35 C.

The rig had other advanced extreme-condition features as well. For example, the rig's columns were strengthened to withstand some ice impact and the marine riser had a feature similar to a cow-catcher to keep floating ice off the marine riser that connected the rig to the well on the ocean bottom.

1988 North Sea gas blowout

On September 22, 1988, Ocean Odyssey suffered a blowout while operated by Diamond Offshore Drilling
Diamond Offshore Drilling
Diamond Offshore Drilling, Inc. is a deepwater drilling contractor which provides drilling services to the oil and gas industry. The company's headquarters are located in Houston, Texas, but they have offices in Metairie, Louisiana, Africa, Australia, Brazil, Indonesia, Scotland, Singapore, Norway...

 on hire to ARCO
Atlantic Richfield Company is an oil company with operations in the United States as well as in Indonesia, the North Sea, and the South China Sea. It has more than 1,300 gas stations in the western part of the United States. ARCO was originally formed by the merger of East Coast-based Atlantic...

 (now a subsidiary of BP), drilling the 22/30b-3 well on a prospect in the North Sea
North Sea
In the southwest, beyond the Straits of Dover, the North Sea becomes the English Channel connecting to the Atlantic Ocean. In the east, it connects to the Baltic Sea via the Skagerrak and Kattegat, narrow straits that separate Denmark from Norway and Sweden respectively...

. The ultimate direct cause of the incident was a failure of the subsea wellhead equipment after a prolonged period of well control. During the resulting fire the radio operator, Timothy Williams, was killed. He had been ordered from the lifeboats and back to the radio room by the rig's manager, who failed to countermand the order when the rig was evacuated.

Launch platform conversion

Ocean Odyssey spent the next several years as a rusting hulk in the docks of Dundee
Dundee is the fourth-largest city in Scotland and the 39th most populous settlement in the United Kingdom. It lies within the eastern central Lowlands on the north bank of the Firth of Tay, which feeds into the North Sea...

, Scotland. Her availability prompted Boeing
The Boeing Company is an American multinational aerospace and defense corporation, founded in 1916 by William E. Boeing in Seattle, Washington. Boeing has expanded over the years, merging with McDonnell Douglas in 1997. Boeing Corporate headquarters has been in Chicago, Illinois since 2001...

 to establish the Sea Launch
Sea Launch
Sea Launch is a spacecraft launch service that uses a mobile sea platform for equatorial launches of commercial payloads on specialized Zenit 3SL rockets...

 consortium, for which she was bought in 1993 by Kværner
Kværner was a Norway-based engineering and construction services company in existence between 1853 and 2005 when it was merged with Aker ASA. The Kværner name was used in the subsidiary Aker Kværner until April 3, 2008 when it changed name to Aker Solutions. Kværner re-emerged on 6...

 Rosenberg of Stavanger
Stavanger is a city and municipality in the county of Rogaland, Norway.Stavanger municipality has a population of 126,469. There are 197,852 people living in the Stavanger conurbation, making Stavanger the fourth largest city, but the third largest urban area, in Norway...

, Norway
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

, and renamed L/P Odyssey.

From late 1995 to May 1997, Kværner extended the length of the platform and added a pair of support columns and additional propulsion systems. The upper deck — the location of the former drill floor — was rebuilt to accommodate the launch pad and launch vehicle service hangar. In May 1997, Ocean Odyssey arrived at Kværner Vyborg
Vyborg is a town in Leningrad Oblast, Russia, situated on the Karelian Isthmus near the head of the Bay of Vyborg, to the northwest of St. Petersburg and south from Russia's border with Finland, where the Saimaa Canal enters the Gulf of Finland...

 Shipyard for the installation of the launch vehicle equipment itself.

By 1999, the vessel was ready for service, and on March 27, 1999, a Zenit-3SL rocket successfully launched a demonstration satellite
A DemoSat is a boilerplate spacecraft used to test a carrier rocket without risking a real satellite on the launch. They are most commonly flown on the maiden flights of rockets, but have also been flown on return-to-flight missions after launch failures...

 to a geostationary transfer orbit
Geostationary transfer orbit
A geosynchronous transfer orbit or geostationary transfer orbit is a Hohmann transfer orbit used to reach geosynchronous or geostationary orbit....

. The first commercial launch occurred on October 9, 1999, with the orbiting of the DirecTV
DirecTV is an American direct broadcast satellite service provider and broadcaster based in El Segundo, California. Its satellite service, launched on June 17, 1994, transmits digital satellite television and audio to households in the United States, Latin America, and the Anglophone Caribbean. ...

 1-R satellite.

2007 launch failure

On January 30, 2007, a Zenit-3SL carrying the NSS-8
NSS-8 was a Dutch telecommunications satellite that was destroyed during launch. It was a Boeing 702 spacecraft with 56 C-band and 36 Ku-band transponders, and it was part of the SES NEW SKIES....

 satellite failed to launch and exploded aboard Odyssey. There were no injuries. Damage to the launch platform was mostly superficial, though blast deflectors underneath the platform were knocked loose and lost when they fell into the sea.

Odyssey returned to service with the January 15, 2008, successful launch of the Thuraya 3 satellite.

External links