I Dream of Galveston: Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig Museum

Three floors of models and interactive displays illustrate the story of offshore oil and gas from seismic technology to exploration and production. Scale models of production platforms, actual drill bits, and remotely-operated vehicles as well as videos and exhibits explain drilling, geology, seismic, well servicing, and production.

The Ocean Star was a Mobile Offshore Drilling Unit, and as such it was towed from place-to-place to drill test wells in the quest for oil and gas. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Following a leisurely tour inside the museum, visitors can take the skywalk out onto the drill floor of the rig, or visit the exhibits on the pipe deck from the first floor of the museum.

A former offshore drilling rig, the Ocean Star was built in 1969 at the Bethlehem Steelyard in Beaumont, Texas. The Ocean Star, with its large (210 feet x 170 feet) A-frame mud mat, was designed to work primarily in the Gulf of Mexico.

The Ocean Star was a Mobile Offshore Drilling Unit, and as such it was towed from place-to-place to drill test wells in the quest for oil and gas. Since its 234-foot-long legs had to reach the ocean floor, the Ocean Star was limited to working in a maximum depth of 173 feet. This depth left enough space for the required air gap (space between the rig and the ocean) of 25-30 feet. During its working life, the Ocean Star drilled about 200 wells.

Entering the Ocean Star you’ll learn how oil workers board the rig by way of a “Billy Pugh” personal basket. The remainder of the first floor highlights the sub-sea operations in offshore drilling.

An aquarium showcases two aspects of the offshore industry: a scale model depicting the Ocean Star’s legs and mud mat and the Rigs to Reef program, in which the offshore industry benefits marine life by converting obsolete platforms into artificial reef habitats.

The Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig Museum and Education Center is docked at Pier 19 in Galveston. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Across from the aquarium is the Mitchell Energy Theater where you’ll view a 15-minute film “The Story of Offshore”.

Visitors continue their tour by proceeding to level 2—discovery and production. The purpose of a drilling rig is to drill a hole miles deep in the ocean floor in hopes of finding oil or gas. The Ocean Star’s role was merely to find oil. Once oil is found, a production platform is built to produce the oil.

As you continue through this level, you’ll learn how geological and seismic evidence are used to determine where oil and gas are likely to be found.

You’ll continue your tour by proceeding to level 3—life on a rig. Except for the control room, level 3 was added when the Ocean Star was converted into a museum. As well as affording a bird’s eye view of the seascape, this level has various models of rigs and ships used in the offshore industry.

You’ll conclude your tour by passing through the control room and crossing the skywalk onto the drill floor where the actual drilling work occurred. Standing under the 147-foot-high derrick gives one a sense of what it must be like to work on such an extraordinary piece of equipment.

Admission: $8; seniors $5

Location: Pier 19, Harborside Drive

The museum features three floors of models and interactive displays illustrating the story of offshore oil and gas from seismic technology to exploration and production. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Information: (409) 766-STAR (7827)

Website: oceanstaroec.com

Please Note: This is the fifth in a series of stories on favorite Galveston attractions

Texas Spoken Friendly

Too often we are so preoccupied with the destination, we forget the journey.

Worth Pondering…
Galveston, oh Galveston, I still hear your sea waves crashing
While I watch the cannons flashing
I clean my gun and dream of Galveston.
—Glen Campbell

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