A real-life thriller in the tradition of The Perfect Storm
In the spring of 2010 the world watched for weeks as more than 200 million gallons of crude oil billowed from a hole three miles deep in the Gulf of Mexico. Warnings of various and imminent environmental consequences dominated the news. Deepwater drilling—largely ignored or misunderstood to that point—exploded in the American consciousness in the worst way possible.
Fire on the Horizon, written by veteran oil rig captain John Konrad and longtime Washington Post journalist Tom Shroder, recounts in vivid detail the life of the rig itself, from its construction in South Korea in the year 2000 to its improbable journey around the world to its disastrous end, and reveals the day-to-day lives, struggles, and ambitions of those who called it home.
From the little-known maritime colleges to Transocean's training schools and Houston headquarters to the small towns all over the country where the wives and children of the Horizon's crew lived in the ever-present shadow of risk hundreds of miles away, Fire on the Horizon offers full-scale portraits of the Horizon's captain, its chief mate, its chief mechanic, and others.
What emerges is a white-knuckled chronicle of engineering hubris at odds with the earth itself, an unusual manifestation of corporate greed and the unforgettable heroism of the men and women on board the Deepwater Horizon. Here is the harrowing minute-by-minute account of the fateful day, April 20, 2010, when the half-billion-dollar rig blew up, taking with it the lives of eleven people and leaving behind a swath of unprecedented natural destruction.
What often seemed forgotten were the eleven men who lost their lives during the explosion and fire on the Deepwater Horizon. In “Fire on the Horizon: The Untold Story of the Gulf Oil Disaster”, authors John Konrad and Tom Shroder make sure their stories, as well as the stories of the survivors, are told.Konrad, an oil rig captain, worked for Transocean, the owner of the Deepwater Horizon, and knew many of the people who worked on Horizon. His blog, gCaptain.com, was an immediate source of information on the blast, as people working on a supply ship near the Horizon who witnessed the explosion sent photos and updates to his blog.Konrad and Shroder, a former editor and writer at the Washington Post, teamed up to tell this incredible story, which will appeal to anyone who enjoyed Sebastian Junger’s “The Perfect Storm”. (Junger even contributes a blurb for the book.)While both books put the reader right in the middle of the disasters, “Fire on the Horizon” has the advantage of the first-hand stories of the survivors. The section of the book that deals with the actual explosion is so harrowing, your heart will pound and your pulse will race as you read the minute-by-minute account from the people who survived it. The writing is so intense, I could almost feel the unbearable heat and the confusion of the people on that rig as they raced to save themselves and their coworkers from this disaster. Dave Young is one of the most interesting men on the rig. He graduated from the oldest maritime college in the country, SUNY Maritime College. He is “short and tough, supremely self-confident, (and) perfectly represented the scrappy, resourceful, unruly spirit of his college, little known even in its own southeastern Bronx neighborhood.” Young was the chief mate on the ship, and among his responsibilities was to direct the emergency response and firefighting. He had to convince the captain it was time to abandon ship when all attempts to fight the fire were futile. He and a few others narrowly escaped on a life raft that was caught tethered to the rig, and their account of nearly being overcome by heat and fire is frightening.The authors balance the technical aspects of oil rig drilling with the humanity of the people who work on them. They begin the book with the launching of the Deepwater Horizon from the place where it was built. We meet the crew in charge of sailing it from Korea in 2001, around the southern tip of Africa, a fifteen thousand mile trip to the Gulf of Mexico, before it even can begin to do the job for which it was designed.The technical aspects of oil drilling are clearly explained, and there are excellent photos and drawings of the blowout preventer that failed and caused the explosion. The Deepwater Horizon was almost ten years old at the time of the accident, and the age of the rig contributed to accident, as did cuts in the maintenance and human resource budgets from BP and Transocean.“Fire on the Horizon” is fascinating, explaining to the reader in understandable terms how this disaster happened, and bringing to life the people who worked on the rig. It successfully combines the technical and human aspects of the story, and the minute-by-minute retelling of the disaster itself, from the first-hand account of survivors, is as harrowing a story as you’ll ever read.read more
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Interesting retelling of the events of the recent oil spill. Includes some stories about how oil rigs are run, life on them, etc.read more
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Konrad, a veteran oil rig captain, teams up with Shroder (Old Souls) to offer a thorough but plodding look at the "little-understood culture of offshore drilling." Starting in Korea with the construction of the Deepwater Horizon in 2000, the authors leapfrog through time and around the globe to explain the history and mechanics of oil rig life and offshore drilling. Profiles of the (mostly) men who work the rigs shed light on the class tensions aboard as well as on the personalities, educations, and customs of this special set of modern-day mariners. Konrad had close friends on the Horizon and the final chapters are an affecting blend of their firsthand accounts of the explosion. The authors suggest that oil rig blowouts are inevitable: while Transocean Ltd., owner of the Horizon and the world's biggest offshore drilling company, does what it can to prevent common safety hazards, the high cost of delays in the offshore oil business (use of the Horizon was costing BP $700 a minute) encourages management to postpone the maintenance of essential equipment. While informative and undeniably important, the book is so bogged down by clunky prose and jargon that it's difficult to mine its message. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.