Danger In the Deep

Season 1, Episode 10



Zack, what do you see?


(Filtered, with bubbles ambience)
Nothing so far, Topside.  Everything looks normal.  I've got about 60 feet of visibility.  I'll keep you posted.
(grunts while walking)

Topside, I'm moving to the B.O.P. stack now.  That's where the flaw in the steel must be.


Roger diver. Very important we have that Blow Out Preventor operational. Let me know when you start the ultrasonic test on the steel.


Will do. Topside, slack the diver.


Roger, slacking the diver.


Topside I'm at the koomey pod.


Roger, diver is on the job.  How's your slack, diver?


Slack is fine.  I'm going to have to be down here a while to solve this.  No sweat, but it's going to take some time.


Right diver.  And Zack-- be careful.

(switch POV)
(normal voice)
Of all days not to have a back-up N.D.T. diver.  Zack was the only Non-Destructive Testing diver in the area today.  Well, Zack's a good diver.  And I'm sure he'll be able to test that steel.  We can't afford to lose a B.O.P. now.


Wait..my God what is that surface disturbance?  It's about a half mile from the rig-- it would have to be an...an underwater explosion of some kind.  Zack!

(switch  POV)
(filtered)  Topside to diver! Zack! Zack! Come in! Can you hear me?



(still filtered)

This episode is the first true cliffhanger in the series, and it did cause a stir every time it was broadcast. Several scenes lead up to the action presented here, with one of the main characters in extreme jeopardy . . . and perhaps worse.

Though I did research for every storyline, this one required extensive reading, followed by interviews with several experts to get the details right. Off-shore oil rigs are like ships that have experienced crews with mastery in various skills both topside and underwater. Commercial divers’ careers are among the most dangerous in the world requiring extensive training, certification, and then careful monitoring. (I later extended my research to present even more detail in the novel Why Hearts Keep Secrets that includes this storyline.) It was a privilege to speak with the brave people I interviewed, and I received the highest praise one day when, during a radio talk show interview, a listener called in. He’d worked for many years on an oil rig and said my episode was completely realistic.

Something I couldn’t have known at the time was that this episode was also prophetic. The BOP stack—or Blow Out Preventor—is a critical part of any offshore rig. In my episode, broadcast in 1992, the BOP stack on the fictional platform Guerdon off the California coast has a malfunction that can be repaired. In 2010 the BOP on the real platform Deep Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico was much more serious, causing the deaths of 11 crew members and spewing oil and gas into Gulf waters for 87 days. An excellent film “Deepwater Horizon” chronicles this disaster.

To say this episode created a challenge for our foley artist David L. Krebs and our engineer Bill Berkuta is to vastly understate the situation. First, we had to create a believable “ambience” for two distinct areas: the topside portion of the rig, which would include ocean waves, wind, clanking gear, footsteps on metal, and other elements; and the underwater portion, where we were “inside” the dry suit worn by our diver, indicating this both by filtering his voice, and by adding an unrealistic but evocative sound of bubbles rising to the surface. Then we had to create an explosion that could also be heard from both these perspectives, both under and over the water. Both my amazing crew members, Dave and Bill, were up to the task and created one of the most interesting—and later most famous—audio episodes ever broadcast.

What greatly enhanced the tension and drama of this episode were the “Tension” music cues created by Marilyn Harris and Mark Wolfram, who also scored many television projects. And neither the music nor the special effects would really have worked, however, without the stellar cast. Colby Chester played Zack Calvin, the fictional hero who was both heir to Calvin Oil, its Vice President, and also a certified commercial diver. Colby is the only actor who ever played the role, which was written for him. At the time, his sophisticated, smooth speaking and Ivy-League good looks brought him thousands of followers on The Young and The Restless. And his career includes many superb roles. Find out more here about Colby Chester.

The character of Ron, the topside manager in this storyline, was played by Dave Krebs, who was not only a superb foley artist, but a marvelous actor and writer. We worked together on many projects, when he wasn’t too busy working on other shows. Find out more here about David L. Krebs.

As you listen to Episode 10 of Milford-Haven—the last episode in Season 1 of our podcasts—I apologize for leaving you hanging. Or do I? Actually, I hope by the time you hear this episode you’re truly hooked on our show, as were 4.5 listeners to the BBC broadcast in the U.K.

During our hiatus (Season 2 starts January 6, 2020) we have some very special bonus shows to share with you. And don’t forget, this is your chance to binge-listen to the whole season!

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