Letter: South Carolina’s Sad, Luddite Approach To Offshore Exploration

“We should at least know if there is oil or, better, gas offshore.”

RE: SC Senator Says Palmetto State Has No Room For Offshore Drilling

Dear Editor,

The state’s luddite approach to offshore exploration saddens me on two points.

First, exploration has to be supported by highly skilled merchant marine documented blue collar workers.  Although I sailed deep sea, I took training courses with “oil patch” guys, and have close friends in Louisiana.  My visits to small town Louisiana put me in contact with more oil patch workers; all struck me as being clever and having difficult but highly rewarding lives.

Merchant marine documents are difficult to get, the Coast Guard rigorously enforces a training and examination regime which with at sea experience results in a highly meritocratic employment scheme.  The sea does its part by clearing off the stupid, careless and unlucky.  The result is a guy that works hard, studies hard and manages his goals can work in a good paying job free of political hires and corporate office political nonsense.  No AA nitwits, no single mom work shifters.  These cannot make it aboard a small vessel at sea working for a month of 12 hour work days.

These are great jobs for the guy who has decided to walk away from our anti-male, authoritarian society.  No need for military experience.  No need for a useless college degree, no need for student loans.  Job-related absence is a great reason for walking away from voting and the utterly corrupt legal system’s jury duty.

Because there is no daily drive, a guy can live in anywhere.  The ones I met live exclusively in rural or small town Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.  They earned enough so their wives could stay home and home school children if they wanted.  The same can be said for the rig workers, welders, helo pilots, diesel and equipment mechanics.  Vessel shore support is also very technical; mechanics, computer techs, etc.


No doubt it is a difficult way to earn a living, and it is very tough on family life.  Many women cannot handle having a husband who is gone a lot, hence guys have to be very careful when a choosing a mate.  The deep sea men I sailed with had in many cases given up on American women and married far more loyal Asians or Russians.  More than a few didn’t bother to live in the United States, and were expats in Asia or Panama.  That is the ultimate walk away!

Secondly, the state must find ways to generate real wealth based on mining, manufacture, fishing or farming, not financialization.  As the country gets more chaotic and further into collapse, regions that can see to themselves stand a chance for survival.  Rural states, like South Carolina, should make their survival independent of the nation’s large urban areas.  Hence we should at least know if there is oil or, better, gas offshore.

I suspect the wealthy, politically connected beach crowd doesn’t want to look out from Pawley’s or “DebbieDo” to see a platform.  First off, the platform are very tough, the Coast Guard’s Frying Pan Shoal, Diamond Shoals and Chesapeake Light towers attest to that.  I’ve plotted new oil fields onto navigation charts all over the world; most often there are numerous wells fed into one platform which then transfers product ashore.  Having done no survey, we have no clue where platforms, shore facilities etc. would be located.

Yes, there are incidents, spectacular ones (I was on watch one day west of Gibraltar when the Deepwater Horizon went up; the ship’s distress alarm console went crazy from receiving alarms from the Gulf).  But these are very rare, and nothing in life is risk free.

If you need a quick hit of government waste and incompetence, head over to West Hartsville, S.C. and check out the grandiose, 14 months under construction traffic circle, where a simple stoplight would have sufficed.





First of all, congrats on a well-chosen nom de plume.  I am a fan of the emperor-historian myself.  Second, thank you for speaking some common sense on this issue – and doing so in the context of a spot-on critique of contemporary American culture.  What a unique and enlightened perspective!  Hopefully the “wealthy, politically connected” readers of this letter will heed your words.



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