Tripping the Pipe
Day 9 (Tuesday 14 September): The process of sending pipe down the 1300m to the sea floor, whether to drill or core, or place instruments that measure pressure & temperature is called "tripping the pipe". The pipe is made from steel but amazingly when the rig pulls up the pipe ‘string’ the steel pipe ‘bends’ a little bit which is a wicked sight to see! The rigging crew are called roughnecks and work in two teams of 12 hour shifts so that pipe is being ‘tripped’ 24-7. So these guys use giant machines to connect pipes together 3 at a time to make a ‘strand’ before wenching (up to 5000lbs worth!) the pipe down a hole in the ship called a moon pool. Learning the lingo is a challenge and funny too. There are mouse holes and tool pushers and dog houses. I have great admiration for the roughneck’s ability to stay focused on a noisy rig floor, remember to keep their fingers and toes out of the way, and stay upright as the ship heaves too and fro. What a trip!