Confident, tanned and polite, the outdoors man answered my query in a quiet but firm voice. The question had been why would a Ouachita Mountain boy choose to go to sea and work so far from home ? His response was measured, when he said, good wages is a factor, but it is somehow more than that. If I am working at home I spend about half of my time away and on the job, so it is not much different, working off shore. I spend two weeks out on the drilling rig and am off for two weeks, spending that time with my family.Because our family's lifestyle is so heavily related to the out of doors, it was just a natural that I would want to also work outdoors.My work schedule will nearly always give me a full half of deer season to hunt.
My next question was how he started to work for an off shore drilling company. Grinning, he responded, "the internet, of course !" That is where the initial contact information came from, then there was about a three month process of physical, psychological and aptitude tests, along with a physical examination. After all of that, there is an intensive week of twelve hour days in Morgan City Louisiana. It is about half class room study and half practical exercises on a training drilling rig that is part of the international oil rig museum, on the banks of the Atchafalaya river. Passing the written exam and the practical exercises, at that drilling rig, named Mr. Charlie, qualifies you to go to the next phase, which is conducted at the U.S. Coastguard facility in Morgan City. "What does the Coastguard instruct you in at that site", I asked. The answer was direct and to the point, as is Richard Saddler's way. "Water Survival." "You have to demonstrate that you can swim ?", I asked. "For one thing, he replied, but it is again, about safety, learning the use and proper wearing of flotation and survival gear that is used at sea. It is more than learning how to tread water, it is also about quickly making emergency flotation devices and utilizing even the clothes that you are wearing. Since we fly by helicopter out to the drilling rig, one of the training exercises is how to exit a heilo that has to be ditched in open water". Really!, I said, how do they train you for that ? You are seat belted in a training aid and put in a swimming pool and have to successfully extricate your self from the training vehicle. There are scuba divers in the pool as you submerge, just incase there is a complication".
Wow, what happens next ?, I said. "That is actually the graduation training exercise, at that point you have already passed the written exam on that part".
Serving to help meet America's energy needs, Richard Saddler, Wickes, Arkansas.