The Ocean Ranger Disaster


  • JoAnne Dodd


Case study, Ocean Ranger, ENGI 8751


In November 1980 the Ocean Ranger was the world's largest semi-submersible oil rig of its time and it was moved to the Grand Banks of Newfoundland to commence the drilling of an exploration well in the Hibernia oil field. On February 14th, 1982 the Ocean Ranger would face and be defeated by a terrible storm at sea, resulting in the fatalities of the entire crew. It wasn't until after the disaster that it was concluded that the rig had several design flaws that contributed to the failure of the vessel to survive in the massive storm. Today these design flaws serve as lessons learned for other coastal and ocean structures. The Ocean Ranger was constructed in 1976, in Hiroshima Japan. Weighting 25,000 tons, the oil rig was said to be built to withstand 190km/h winds and 34m waves approving the vessel for "unrestricted ocean operations." Catastrophic events, such as the sinking of the Ocean Ranger, are nothing short of a nightmare and never are they intended by the engineers whom design these structures. Although engineers design to prevent catastrophes, it is the failures of the past that act as some of the best lessons learned for the design and safety of future builds. Highlighted in the following paper are the engineering flaws that led to the failure of the Ocean Ranger and took the lives of 84 crew.


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Coastal and Ocean Engineering (ENGI.8751)