The photos on this webpage were taken in 1981 when I worked for Can-Dive Oceaneering in the Davis Strait. I did one month on and one month off for the summer that year. I flew to Frobisher Bay, Nunavut, from Montreal by DC3. From there, I went to Brevort Island by Twin Otter and then to the drillship by helicopter. But the first month started in Boston, Massachusetts. I flew there and spent one week in Boston while the drillship “Ben Ocean Lancer” was in for repairs. My job was to fabricate and weld up some steel walls around the Arms IV submersible moon pool on the ship. After one week, the drillship left on its voyage to St. John’s, Newfoundland, where the drill string was loaded on the ship, and we received the Arms IV submersible from Vancouver, B.C. We spent one week in St. John’s, then left on the voyage to the drill site in the middle of the Davis Strait, which had been started the year before.
Our crew consisted of a Supervisor, Two Submersible Pilots and Two Topside Technicians. I was a Topside Technician/Diver, which required maintenance on the submersible and any drillship diving requirements to a depth of 60 feet. The submersible was taking care of the sea-bottom work on the wellhead/BOP stack, which was 1200 feet deep. I came close to getting an opportunity to dive the submersible. Still, the drilling operations ended abruptly, the production crew came on board, and we had to give up our accommodations to them. We were moved to the Brevort Island camp for my final week on this operation. We were standing by on Brevort Island because submersible operations were not needed during the production testing. So we watched canned TV, ate and walked up to the abandoned DEW Line station. And then ate some more. The scenery from the hilltop at the DEW Line station was awesome! We had a terrific view of iceberg alley.
The initial dives with the Arms IV submersible were a bit stressful for our crew. The submersible had just been built in Vancouver before being shipped to us and had not been sea trialled. That was to be done on the job. And it didn’t go so well. We dropped the pilots down to 250 feet, and one of the small portholes started leaking. We pulled it out, took the porthole out, cleaned the o-ring, sanded surfaces, and torqued it back in. We dropped them down again with no leaks, but another one started leaking at 500 feet deep. We pulled it out and made the same fix. We dropped it in, and the front 15-inch portholes leaked at 750 feet. Ron and I stayed up all night taking all the portholes out, cleaned and retorqued them all. The guys in the sub then stayed dry for their journey to the bottom in 1200 feet of seawater, just in time to point the video camera at the existing wellhead left on the bottom from the previous year. The drill crew needed eyes on the wellhead to land the BOP stack. The timing was right, even though we had significant difficulties getting the submersible to the bottom.