Going Deeper into the Deepwater Horizon Rig

April 16, 2015 by Craig Phillips in

aboard the deepwater horizon interactive feature graphic

This coming Monday, April 20, marks the 5th anniversary of the disastrous Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion, considered the largest accidental marine oil spill in the history of the oil industry. The Great Invisible, Margaret Brown’s film premiering on Independent Lens on PBS Monday at 10pm (check local listings), makes clear how the record-setting spill’s repercussions reached far beyond the devastating environmental impact to the Gulf.

Doug Brown, the chief engineer aboard the Deepwater Horizon when it exploded, survived the disaster, and as we see in the below clip from The Great Invisible, his life was forever changed by the ordeal. But years earlier, to alleviate the boredom of all the downtime inherent to working on a rig, Doug shot home movies to give his family a glimpse of life aboard the Deepwater Horizon. The footage is a gift, and even the more banal moments, like a cameo by a large marine bird, take on an added poignancy in light of the catastrophe looming in the future.

In conjunction with Doug’s footage, we’ve created an interactive feature to give you a better sense of the sheer size of the rig and what working and living on the rig was like. The clickable rig map includes pop-up video clips featuring Doug’s home movies.

Begin your tour >>

Underwater leak from the Deepwater Horizon (courtesy U.S. Department of Energy)
Underwater leak from the Deepwater Horizon (courtesy
U.S. Department of Energy)

Learn More:

About the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and on the rig itself (on Wikipedia);

About the disastrous environmental after effects: Gulf Ecosystems in Crisis After the Oil Spill (Al Jazeera);  Oil Spill’s Environmental Costs (Toronto Sun);

About The Great Invisible film here on Independent Lens;

A snapshot of the hidden oil in our lives (via Participant Media and TakePart’s official site for the film).


New Sea Drilling Rule Planned, 5 Years After BP Oil Spill (New York Times, 2015);

BP Is Found Grossly Negligent in Deepwater Disaster (Wall Street Journal, 2014).

Craig Phillips

Craig is the digital content producer for Independent Lens, based in San Francisco. He is a film nerd, cartoonist, classic film poster collector, wannabe screenwriter, and owner of/owned by cats.