I grew up at College Hill, Mississippi and enrolled as freshman in Engineering School in fall of 1940. I was deferred from draft and allowed to complete accelerated Civil Engineering course in September 1943, during WWII. I joined Navy during last semester at Ole Miss and was sent to Notre Dame University for fifty-two day special midshipman course. Commissioned as Ensign in Naval Civil Engineering Corps and assigned to Thirty-First Seabee Battalion. Battalion assigned to Fifth Marine Division for Iwo Jima Invasion. Severely wounded at end of operation and spent six months in Navy Hospitals. Subsequently I was discharged in September 1946.
I was employed as an Assistant Civil Engineer by the Humble Oil & Refining Co. (Exxon), promoted to Civil Engineer in December 1946, and to District Engineer in September 1948. I was registered as Professional Engineer in Mississippi in Sept. of 1947 and in Texas in March 1948. I spent twenty years in the Texas Division in Corpus Christi Area with over 90 % of my effort being involved on the 1,200,000 acre King Ranch, which Humble had successfully leased for Oil Exploration and Production. After twenty years I was transferred to New Orleans in 1967 and into the Offshore Platform Design Section which was responsible for the design and installation of structures in the Gulf of Mexico. In 1968, our design group was transferred to Houston to be housed at our Exxon Production Research Facility to continue platform designs in conjunction with our research counterpart. An additional assignment for me in 1969 was coordinating the research and design activities of two consultants for possible structures in Arctic waters in water depths from the shoreline to sixty feet, joint effort for Humble and our Canadian affiliate, Imperial Oil Company of Canada.
Our affiliate in Canada, Imperial Oil Co., had leases in the Arctic Ocean, where we did not, but felt that it would only be a matter of time until we did offshore Alaska. Imperials leases went out to water depths of sixty feet, which is where the massive ridging starts in the ice formations. Since Imperial had no offshore platform experience, I was assigned the duty to develop designs for Artic Ocean activities for both Humble and Imperial. I employed consultant firms to develop design criteria from the shoreline to fifteen feet water depth and another to develop design criteria from fifteen feet to sixty feet depth. I take pride in the fact that the structures that we produced have been utilized to depths beyond the sixty foot depth with success.
Since I had developed the expertise for ocean operations, it followed that my expertise was needed even for our operations on shore and I was pressed into service to provide the technology for two drilling operations onshore that were directly across the Canning River from the Arctic Wildlife Preserve. We also had a lease on Flaxman Island, which was three miles offshore from the mouth of the Canning River, the boundary of the Arctic Wildlife Preserve.
It was necessary that I go out on the ocean and construct an ice road parallel to the shoreline for seventy miles from Prudhoe Bay to access Flaxman Island operations. Since we crossed several bays, we were as much as five to ten miles offshore with these operations. Since we had operations that extended over several years, this seventy miles of ocean road was opened each year and other operators utilized our road as well.
Since operations in the Arctic Wildlife Preserve have come to the forefront, I suggest that access has been available for as many as twenty five or more years for we were on the perimeter for five or six years without detriment to the environment.
In 1980 I was asked to provide the expertise to develop logistics and possible routes for an affiliate company, Exxon Exploration Drilling, for two drill sites in the very deep jungle area in Zaire. After spending six months on this project and spending time in the jungle, I was asked if I would be willing to attend the Berlitze School, learn how to speak French, and return to supervise this project. I respectfully declined this offer and accepted a transfer to Alaska where I spent my last three and a half years with the company supervising construction activities for our exploration drilling operations. I opted to take early retirement at age sixty-two.
During the twenty years on the King Ranch, I was required to maintain records of my activities and a partial list would be construction of over 2,000 miles of roads, from clay to caliche and to asphalt surfaced roads, with bridges and drainage structures to support very heavy drilling equipment transport. I was responsible for erecting and skidding loaded drilling derricks from one location to another, constructed pipelines, bolted steel tank batteries, compressor plants, gas processing facilities and constructed housing facilities and utilities for over seven hundred residents. This is only a partial list but were the major factors. I also was responsible for dredging channels in bay water areas and for providing protective shallow water structures for drilling and producing operations and docking facilities for shallow water drilling operations.
As you can see, the list is almost endless, as I have not elaborated on these items. Of interest about activities during this period, two of the sayings that were prevalent were: If one is doing well in his profession, one could expect to double his salary each five years. Surprisingly, this statement proved to be true up until one had about thirty years of service. The other statement was that if one did not keep abreast of his particular branch of engineering, after five years one had lost his ability to function in that particular facet. Neither of these facts is relevant at this time for starting salaries have gone from three thousand dollars per year to over three thousand dollars a month. Additionally, with the advent of computers and other technology, one must constantly work at keeping abreast of current technology.
Last, I should note that I was awarded a patent and participation in two other patents over my career, One was for pressure grouting large gas compressors to the massive concrete foundations required for support and the other two were for structures in the Arctic oceans.
(By Dave Galloway, 2002)