Marathon Launches 47th Rig From Vicksburg Yard

Marathon LeTourneau Company, Marine Division in Vicksburg, Miss., launched its 47th self-elevating "jackup" drilling platform March 1,1974. During 1973, Marathon's Vicksburg yard completed production and delivered three jackup drilling platforms, along with completing a major modification and repair job on another jackup rig that was originally constructed at the yard in 1963.

The 47th rig, Marathon's Hull No. 71, has been built for Reading & Bates. The jackup rig is 230 feet long Iby 200 feet wide by 410 feet high. It is equipped with 410 feet of jackup legs and will crew 94 workmen. The jackup weighs 6,000 tons and will drill in 300 feet of water. It is also equipped with three Marathon LeTourneau 50- ton capacity marine cranes.

In 1973, Marathon Manufacturing Company, the parent company, contracted for the sales of nine new offshore drilling rigs and one jackup rig component parts assembly.

This represents 17 percent of the total number of rigs sold and 55 percent of the total number of jackup rigs sold by the U.S. and foreign-based" firms throughout the year.

A plant that was opened 32 years ago to build defense products during World War II and later became a pioneer in the manufacture of mobile offshore drilling platforms —this is Marathon's Marine Division facility in Vicksburg.

The year was 1942, and the country was becoming accustomed to war and shortages and ration stamps. The nation desperately needed tools for that war. In Vicksburg, production lines were established as the plant was under construction.

The first products were 155 millimeter shells. Later came scrapers, bulldozers and cranes for the war effort. From Pearl Harbor to V-J Day, R.G. LeTourneau, Inc., predecessor to Marathon LeTourneau Company, built 10,000 scrapers, 14,000 bulldozers, 1,600 sheepfoot rollers, 1,200 rooters and 1,800 twowheel tractors for the armed forces.

The Vicksburg factory also built cranes for the U.'S. Navy.

The Marine Division plant is located about 10 miles south of the city of Vicksburg. Here the company owns approximately 2,770 acres of land. The factory entrance fronts on 'U.S. Highway 61, with manufacturing facilities near the entrance and an assembly site on the banks of the Mississippi River about three miles away.

The city of Vicksburg combines the charm of the Deep South with the pulsating excitement of an industrial city. Vicksburg remembers its past. A major battle was fought here during the War between the States, and a national cemetery in the city honors those men from both sides who died in the battle. A tour of the battleground is a must when visiting Vicksburg. The Mighty Mississippi bends in and around as it flows by the bluffs of the city. A narrow two-lane bridge across the river connecting the city with Louisiana has been replaced with a new multilane bridge that is part of Interstate Highway 20.

The Marine Division's main plant building contains 325,000 square feet of floor space. The division has almost a half million square feet of office and manufacturing space located in numerous buildings, both at the main plant site and at the riverside assembly area.

Because the plant was built during the war years, housing for the employees was difficult to find. The company began then to develop the community known as LeTourneau Rural Station, which is adjacent to the main plant. The community contains 91 homes and 155 mobile home sites. There is a post office, a grocery store and a community center. Recreational facilities in the community include playgrounds, tennis courts, a swimming pool and a Softball diamond.

In the early 1950s, the firm began a development program on the now famed electric Wheel. Marathon's predecessor in 1953 sold various patents and three plants to another firm, and the development of the electric wheel began in earnest.

Now, electric wheel equipment is manufactured at Marathon LeTourneau's plant in Longview, Texas. The Vicksburg plant, however, continues to manufacture gears and gear boxes for heavy equipment built in Longview.

A shortage of petroleum reserves in the early 1950s led to the search o'f offshore areas for oil and gas production, and this led to the development of Marathon Marine Division's primary product—'the selfelevating mobile offshore drilling platform.

In 1955, Marathon LeTourneau built and launched its first offshore rig. Since that time, 47 of the huge units have been manufactured at the Vicksburg plant.

A unique combination of features in Marathon offshore platforms has established for the company a distinguished record of leadership in the offshore industry. Some of these features include high mobility, self-contained design, self-elevating capability and rugged hull construction.

Basically, a platform manufacured in Vicksburg has a triangularshaped hull with a leg located at each corner. The platform is towed to location with the legs raised. On location, -the legs are lowered to the sea floor. 'Strong electric motors that lowered the legs continue to operate, and the platform is then raised above the water surface. The bottom of the platform hull may be 40 to 60 feet over the water, far above wind and wave action.

When drilling is completed, the platform is lowered, the legs are raised and the unit is ready for towing.

Legs on these platforms are raised and lowered through an expertly engineered rack and pinion system.

Makers of fine automobiles boast of rack and pinion steering as the most advanced steering system available. On Marathon's self-elevating platforms, this feature is especially important. Large electric motors power the rack and pinion and, when stopped, lock the system to hold the tremendous weight.

Each platform contains huge electric generators to furnish power for drilling operations and all other functions. Crew quarters, galley and dining facilities are all attractive and air-conditioned. Recreation rooms are usually provided and, in some cases, a small hospital has been included.

The dependability of offshore platforms built in Vicksburg contributed greatly to Marathon's backlog of orders for marine products.

At present, there are seven platforms under construction at the riverside assembly area, and the p'lant work force is now 1,200 strong.

It all began 32 years ago in Vicksburg. One interesting note is that a young man who went to Vicksburg in 1942 to work in the plant is now president of Marathon LeTourneau's Marine Division.

He's Clyde Wilson. Since its beginning, and up to the present, Mr.

Wilson has seen 47 jackup rigs launched from the Vicksburg yard.

There have been many hundreds of others who have had a part in establishing leadership for Marathon in the offshore industry, and the platforms they've built are nowroperating in offshore areas around the globe.

Along with the Vicksburg yard, Marathon also has yards in Brownsville, Texas, Clydebank, Scotland, and Singapore. These yards are capable of constructing jackup and semisubmersMe-type platforms and other marine and ship-shaped vessels.

Marathon LeTourneau Company, Marine Division, is a subsidiary of Marathon Manufacturing Company, a leading producer of offshore drilling platforms, associated marine and industrial metal products.

Maritime Reporter Magazine, page 18,  Apr 1974

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First published in 1881 Maritime Reporter is the world's largest audited circulation publication serving the global maritime industry.