Oilrig Photos

the Zapata Investigator

the Zapata Investigator

Date Added: 13 January 2017 Contributor: Year of Photo: 2017 Picture No: 3103

The Ivestigator laid up in Singapore's Jurong harbour after working in the gulf of Thailand in 1975. The picture was taken in November 1975


I was rig mechanic when I japan worked in rig for 2 years until I left after working in Thailand worked in Philippines new Guninea, I was stationed in Singapore Comment left on 14 September 2017 at 22:43 by Ronnie Chadwell
I worked as rig electrician on the Zapata Navigator 70-73 for three years from Darwin and Perth. Ron Marks was my opposite and he had worked on the Investigator previously. I remember several guys being Toolpushers "Lightening Elliot" (he had many funny sayings), Gordon Wallace, ( a very decent guy whom I liked very much) Don York ( a good guy as well). Rig Managers Wayne Callan, Jack McGuffin ( Very strange fellow with light fingers) Driilers, Ron Parks, John Dunford, Both rigs were very basic compared to today's rigs and they were hard work and you had to be young and dumb to stick around but it was enjoyable.
Comment left on 01 January 2018 at 02:00 by John Hansen
Ronnie & John,
Good to read your comments, I posted the photo, they were interesting times back in 75, always interesting to hear the stories from back then, I seem to recall Ron Parks, not sure, do either of you remember Jim Madge(not many fingers left) or the Petherbridge brothers?
Comment left on 02 March 2018 at 10:36 by Nick De St. Croix
Nick, I remember Noel Petherbridge well from the Zapata Navigator. His son later worked on rigs as a Mechanic with Diamond and possibly just retired. There was Jack Hird a roughneck who stayed with Zapata and later Diamond to become a Rig Manager. I last saw him in Brazil about 2009. There was Ken Fox who was on the Navigator as Motorman and later became a Subsea Engineer. Roy Reverly was also a driller on the Navigator and he later worked for Atwoods. Also another roughneck was Phil Langhorne who became a Rig Manager for Reading &Bates. Bob Gardner was also worked on the Investigator and later as Manager with Reading & Bates. I was on the Navigator working out of Darwin when a roughneck John Dudfield "Seaweed" had a bad accident. They were running casing and John was on the middle board guiding the casing and using rope to spin it in when his arm was caught by the rope and pulled around the casing. John's arm was badly broken and this happened just after evening meal. They tried calling for a chopper to come out and take him to hospital but the mob in town said they would only fly at night if it was life or death. So John had to endure the night on the rig in bad pain. They put him in Toolpusher "Six" Schufflers bunk and when they tried to give him morphine they could not open the safe with the combination they had. So they had to cut the safe open with the Gas Axe. John was off for a long time and eventually came back to the Naivagator as a motorman. His arm had been fixed with pins and a plate. John "Seaweed" was a nice guy but also wild when onshore. The last I heard from him was when he worked on the Regional Endeavor as Storeman whilst it was converted in Newcastle. A short time later he was killed up in Thailand. I have a great photo of him on the drill floor of the Navigator when we were in the Keppel Shipyard in Singapore. When in Darwin we had a Canadian Driller named Max. He bought a brand new Valiant Charger. Can't think f his last name.
The Navigator drilling controls were not the usual EMD type but a combination of their equipment. It was developed by Jim Choetes of M&I in Texas. The Drawworks motors were DC shunt 752 motors and Jim had them wired in Parallel which was not normal as they always used them in Series because in parallel they could not be run with seperate fields as they would flashover if one motor started to act as a generator. Jim was a clever guy. Our first problem with this system occurred when one of the Drawworks motors shrink fit coupling became loose and so the motors would flashover and damage the commutators. Zapata called up an Electrical Enginnering firm (Forbes, Smith, Guy and Woolstonholme) in Sydney to sort out the flashing over of the motors and they said straight away that Jim Choates method was against normal DC Motor control at that time and so had us connect the motors up in Series. This then slowed down the motors and the operation of the Drawworks. Later Jim Choates was flown out fro Texas and he was adamant that he had developed a system that worked. He was correct and once the looses shrink fit coupling was secured he balanced up the system and it worked fine running the motors in parallel with seperate motor fields. A long story but it was a learning curve for me as a young rig electrician.
We have Universal Caterers on the Navigator and they made their own ice-cream. Years later one of the gally hands told me he would never eat the ice-cream as I did because a galley hand Bob Smith used to make it in the mixer with a cigarette bumper in his mouth as well as dribble into the ice-cream mixer. Bob was older and not in good shape.
Another accident happened on board when Jack Hird was using a gas axe to cut the top from a 44 gallon drum. The thing exploded and sat Jack on his arse with metal splitters up his chest. He recovered ok.
When first going to the Navigator in 1969 we used to land on the Sedco 135G rig which was drilling the relief well to try and plag the Petrel well that had blown out about 18 months earlier. I remember seeing "Boots"Hansen fro Red Adairs Well Control mob there and they had Haliburton pumps all over the pipe deck. The Sedco 136G was like a floating hotel compared to the Zapata Navigator.
Hope you enjoy the writing. Was a great to be working in the Oil Patch during that period.
Comment left on 07 March 2018 at 01:50 by John Hansen.
Hi, John, I remember you well, I was on the navigator 70-71 I was working for P&O Australian offshore services. Comment left on 08 June 2018 at 00:32 by Bill Allison
Hello Bill, Good to hear from you and especially someone who crewed on the Navigator. I'm sorry but I cannot put a face to your name and not sure if you were Marine or Engineering. The engineers had a pretty boring job down and in that dingey engine room babysitting the Norberg and Hendy engines. Charley Carrol was the radio operator and even though he was not young and only had half a lung he was young at heart and great to know. I'm 73 now and way back then was 25-27 and so a lot of water has flowed under the bridge. Toward the end of my time in the"OilPatch" which concluded 2014 at age 69 I was able to work on state of the art Deepwater Drillships Reading&Bates/Transocean's "Deepwater Frontier" and Seadrill's "West Polaris". They were a giant stride ahead of the Zapata Navigator. Thanks again Bill for connecting and it is special to know there are Zapata Navigator hands around. Take care mate. Comment left on 16 June 2018 at 11:17 by John Hansen.
Hi, John .. I knew a guy from Zapata in 1970. His name is Norbert Wagner(Sparks) He was with Zapata in Pengkalan Susu.Indonesia. They lived in Jalan Wee Hein Tze when off duty. Sparks is from Houston, Texas. I remember his friends Wilson, Nolan AND Dick.They used to frequent Townehouse Hotel, Penang where I worked. Hoping that know someone who knows them . Thanks .... Comment left on 21 June 2018 at 14:14 by Pearl Koh
Hello Pearl,
Nice to hear from you. I cannot help you with those names. I only worked in Australia on the Zapata Navigator drillships. WAYNE Call an was the rig manager early on. The guys you knew may have worked on the Zapata Investigator whilst it was in Indonesia.
Take care Pearl, Best regards,
John Hansen (Rig Electrician)
Comment left on 22 June 2018 at 12:09 by John Hansen
Hi John, Pearl and Bill, interesting to read all the above, odd how a photo of the investigator gets so many comments from ex navigator hands but none from the investigator, might it have something to do with that last job in the gulf of Thailand I wonder, maybe no one wants to admit to having been there. Comment left on 24 June 2018 at 11:46 by Nick Destcroix
Hi John, I was in engineering, My offsiders were that cranky spanish engineer Tony something and Bill Gough.Bill Boyle was the skipper, You are right Charlie the radio operator was a true gentleman. I flew back to melbourne with him a few times and we kept in touch for a while but I think he may have died. Comment left on 25 June 2018 at 01:27 by Bill Allison
Hi John, thanks so much for the pic of the Investigator drillship.Sparks (Norbert Wagner) took me for a visit when it was docked in Penang, Malaysia before it was towed back to US.. He had a pet monkey on it.I wld appreciate any leads you might be able to provide me with shd you come across any in future.Thanks once again ...
Comment left on 26 June 2018 at 05:19 by Pearl Koh
Hi John, I remember your name but can't place you. In 1970 I worked as motorman under James T Menefee from Louisiana, a top bloke and competent to boot. The other motormen were Ralph Franks and James Ballard who didn't get along. When Ron found out I was an elec f&m he tried to get me to join the elec team, but I got injured as did many others. I worked on the old nordberg in that tight engine room. I was saddened to hear Weed bit the dust, he was a good bloke.I tried to track him down but got nowhere. What became of Peter Scriven his Kiwi mate? He and Weed had planned to shift gold out of Laos, a highly dangerous adventure.In the 2000s I worked for a pusher who cut his teeth as a roustabout on navigator. Reggie Fox another,vthen held a senior position at OD&E. He and his brother Kevin had previously been in seismic with Petty. Comment left on 08 January 2019 at 11:01 by Peter Muller
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