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Types of Offshore Drilling Vessels

The ever-growing oil industry has developed the use of many offshore drilling platforms and other offshore movable structures.

Variations in sea level, weather conditions, and a desire for platform mobility has led to the construction of many different types of rigs, including:

  • Compliant towers are slender, flexible towers with a concrete pile foundation. This structure is designed to sustain significant lateral forces, and they can operate in water up to 2,990 feet deep.
  • Condeep platforms include a base of concrete oil storage tanks, with one or more concrete shafts rising upward. The majority of the platform is resting on the seafloor. These platforms are mostly used in the North Sea and Norwegian continental shelf, due to their ability to withstand heavy weather conditions and deep water.
  • Drillships are maritime vessels equipped with a drill. These ships are usually used for exploratory drilling or scientific purposes, and they can drill up to 12,100 feet.
  • Fixed platforms are directly anchored to the seabed and are thus intended for long-term use. These platforms can operate in a water depth of up to 1,710 feet.
  • Jack-up drilling rigs are designed with legs that can be used to raise the platform above sea level. They are moved into place, and the legs are then used to stabilize and anchor them. They usually operate in water up to 390 feet deep, although some models can withstand water up to 560 feet.
  • Normally Unmanned Installations (NUIs) are small platforms designed to operate remotely with no crew present.
  • Semi-submersible platforms are buoyant enough to float, but stay upright, and can be moved into place. Different models function in water depths from 200 to 1000 feet.
  • Spar Platforms are moored to the seabed with more traditional mooring lines and use counterbalance for stability. They are similar to tension-leg platforms but can be used in more difficult waters due to their increased stability.
  • Tension-leg platforms are floating platforms tethered to the seabed. They are relatively low cost and can operate in waters between 590 and 4270 feet deep, depending on the model.

The Jones Act

Regardless of the type of rig, all offshore rig workers are protected by the Jones Act. The Jones Act is a federal statute that regulates maritime commerce and provides for maintenance and cure for offshore workers. If you have been injured while working on an offshore platform, you need to speak with an experienced Jones Act lawyer to learn about your legal rights. Contact us today to learn how we can help you get compensated for your injuries.


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