The former 1970s top-secret CIA vessel Hughes Glomar Explorer (above) in 1998 would be converted into the world’s largest and most advanced drillship, spending the next 17 years working in deep-water sites around the globe. Photo courtesy American Society of Mechanical Engineers.
Secret History of Drillship Glomar Explorer
With members of the original engineering team and ship’s crew among the attendees at the presentation in Houston on July 20, 2006, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) designated the ship Glomar Explorer, an “historic mechanical engineering landmark.” The remarkable vessel’s story began in 1972 with Howard Hughes Jr. and a high-tech ship was ostensibly built to mine the sea floor. It actually was designed and built to secretly recover a lost Soviet ballistic missile submarine. After a $180 million shipyard conversion decades later, the Glomar Explorer began its record-setting career as a ultra-deep drillship. One offshore expert proclaimed the ship, “was decades ahead of its time and the pioneer of all modern drillships.”
Learn more in Secret History of Drill Ship Glomar Explorer.
Fueling the Saturn V Rocket
A 19th century petroleum product made America’s July 20, 1969, moon landing possible. Five engines of the Saturn V’s first stage burned “Rocket Grade Kerosene Propellant” at 2,230 gallons per second — generating almost eight million pounds of thrust. The fuel was a highly refined kerosene RP-1 (Rocket Propellant-1) that began in 1846 as “coal oil” for lamps.
Learn more in Kerosene Rocket Fuel.
“Diamond Glenn” McCarthy strikes Oil
Glenn H. McCarthy on July 21, 1935, struck oil 50 miles east of Houston, extending the Anahuac field. The well was the first of many for the Texas independent producer, who would discover 11 oilfields by 1945. He later invested $21 million to build the 18-story, 1,100-room Shamrock Hotel, spending another $1 million on its opening gala, which newspapers dubbed, “Houston’s biggest party.”
Learn more in “Diamond Glenn” McCarthy.
News & Research
Hidden History at Texas Land Office
The oldest state agency in Texas, the Texas General Land Office, includes Archives and Records (established in 1837) that preserve more than 35.5 million documents and 45,000 maps, dating back to the 16th century. It has just added “Texas Hidden History,” which uses mapping software to produce Story Maps.
175th Anniversary of Washington Gas Light
Washington Gas Light (WGL), established by Congress on July 8, 1848, installed manufactured gas lights in the House and Senate chambers, the White House, and along Pennsylvania Avenue. In 1931, President Herbert Hoover opened a pipeline valve to bring natural gas from fields in Kentucky and West Virginia.
Seeking Standard Oil’s Naptha History
A writer working on the history of lighting in New York City has noted Standard Oil produced almost all of the naphtha in the United States at the end of the 19th century. On the AOGHS Research Forum, he is seeking more information about how and where Standard Oil produced naphtha.