GLOMAR CHALLENGER - THE BIRTH OF DYNAMIC POSITIONING

Dynamic positioning started in the early 60’s about 8 years before the launch of the Glomar Challenger. The barge Cuss, was the first to perform coring operations maintained on location by 4 harbormaster units controlled essentially by manual input in March 1961; this in the gulf of Mexico and California in water depths up to 3,500 meters. Then the core boats Eureka, Caldrill came as well as the vessels Mission Capistrano and the French La Terebel. In 1968 the 400ft long Global Marine Glomar Challenger appeared. The drillship was designed by Global Marine for a long term contract with the American National Science Foundation and University of California Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Built by Levingston Shipbuilding Company in Orange, Texas. The ship was launched on March 23, 1968.
It sailed down the Sabine River to the Gulf of Mexico, and after a period of testing, the Deep Sea Drilling Project accepted the ship on August 11, 1968.
The Challenger was powered by three GE 752, 750 horsepower DC traction motors. Four tunnel thrusters were each powered by 750 horsepower traction motors to provide 3,000 horsepower for thwart-ships thrust. Glomar Challenger has used two acoustic positioning systems, a phase comparison system and a time of arrival system. Position computation was provided by a General Motors AC division system. Glomar Challenger was a scientific/core sampling vessel.
One of the most important discoveries was made during Leg 3. The crew drilled 17 holes at 10 different sites along a oceanic ridge between South America and Africa. The core samples retrieved provided definitive proof for continential drift and seafloor renewal at rift zones. This confirmation of Alfred Wegener's theory of continental drift strengthened the proposal of a single, ancient land mass, which is called Pangaea. The samples gave further evidence to support the plate tectonics theory of W. Jason Morgan and Xavier Le Pichon. The theory of these two geologists attempts to explain the formation of mountain ranges, earthquakes, and deep sea trenches.
Another discovery was how youthful the ocean floor is in comparison to Earth's geologic history. After analysis of samples, scientists concluded that the ocean floor is probably no older than 200 million years. This is in comparison with the 4.5 billion years of our Earth. As the seafloor spreads from the rifts, it descends again beneath tectonic plates or is pushed upwards to form mountain ranges.
After being in operation for fifteen years, the Glomar Challenger tied dock for the last time with the Deep Sea Drilling Project in November 1983 and was later scrapped. Parts of the ship, such as its dynamic positioning system, engine telegraph, and thruster console, are stored at the Smithsonian Institution.
In 1985 the work of the Glomar Challenger was continued by the JOIDES Resolution, a larger and more advanced drilling ship of the Joint Oceanographic Institutions for Deep Earth Sampling.
The deep sea research and scientific drilling vessel for oceanography and marine geology studies Glomar Challenger is considered as the first DP vessel performing operations around the world. Parts of the ship, such as its dynamic positioning system, engine telegraph, and thruster console, are stored at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC.
The Sedco 445 became the first drillship to drill for oil without anchors in 1968.
(Source: ODP/USGS)

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