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Gulf oil spill: Rig captain hesitated before making key safety decisions

Testimony by a senior Transocean official at a hearing to determine the cause of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill indicated that the rig's captain hesitated before making critical safety decisions in the moments after the explosion.

Daun Winslow, Transocean performance division manager, was touring the rig on the day of the explosion and was going to get a half-cup of coffee and smoke a cigarette on the rig when he heard the explosion.

Winslow saw the derrick ablaze and ran to the bridge. Winslow, who was not included in the rig's chain of command, saw Capt. Curt Kuchta initially waving him back to the accommodation area. He assumed that meant Kuchta thought the accommodation area was a safer place to be, implying Kuchta was not aware of the massive scale of damage to the rig.

"I ran up the stairs ... to where the captain was and told him the accommodation area appears to be severely damaged," Winslow said. "I told him, 'You got to put people in the lifeboats.'"

Winslow heard someone saying a crewman was preparing to jump overboard, and he ran back to coax him back and head to the lifeboats. Winslow went back to the bridge, where Kuchta gave him a report.

"We got no power. We got no water, no emergency generators. We've got nothing," Winslow recalled Kuchta saying. "Can we, or should we ... disconnect" from the well? Winslow recalled Kuchta asking.

"I said, 'If you haven't disconnected by now, please do,'" Winslow said. Winslow said he heard Chris Pleasant, a subsea engineer, saying, "I've already done that. There's nothing here," meaning it didn't work.

At the same time, Winslow said he heard offshore installation manager Jimmy Harrell saying, "Yeah, we must disconnect." Harrell suffered injuries in the explosion that made it hard for him to hear and see.

"There's nothing else we can do," Winslow recalled saying.

Winslow and the rig's top commanders then fled to the lifeboats.

-- Rong-Gong Lin II in Houston

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We need to review the statements made by Mitt Romney about how Obama failed the Gulf of Mexico oil spill while former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney still has oil on his hands from when he was Governor of Massachusetts ! Mitt Romney was the 70th Governor of Massachusetts from Jan 2,2003 to Jan 4,2007. During his one term the Buzzards Bay oil spill happened during April 2003 .

On April 27, 2003, eight years ago the Bouchard Barge B-120 hit an obstacle in Buzzards Bay, creating a 12-foot rupture in its hull and discharging an estimated 100,000 gallons of No. 6 oil. The oil is known to have affected an estimated 90 miles of shoreline, killed 450 numerous bird species, and recreational use of the bay, such as shell fishing and boating.

Since the 2003 oil spill the US Coast Guard has appealed the 2004 Massachusetts Oil Spill Prevention Act and one Massachusetts property damage lawsuit has dragged on for eight years. Republican Mitt Romney is laying the groundwork for a possible White House campaign in 2012, hiring a team of staff members and consultants.


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