“Magic eyes” on the East Sea

 VietNamNet Bridge - Built on the coral, soft mud foundation of tens of meters deep into the ocean, DK1 rigs are considered extraordinary works, "no precedent in the world" and “life milestones.”

Dr. Pham Ngoc Nam talks about DK1 rigs.

More than 20 years ago, Dr. Pham Ngoc Nam (former Deputy Director of the Institute of the Engineering Technology) was tasked to design a work named “economic, scientific and technological service station or DK1 rig.

With distant eyes, shaking hands, Dr. Nam opened each page of the "Marine Life Diary - DK1". Nam said, rigs are built on coral reefs on the southern continental shelf, exclusive economic zone of Vung Tau-Con Dao, where is rich in natural resources.

"This is the vision of the Politburo, the Central Party Committee, including the recommendation of the Commander of the Navy, Admiral Giap Van Cuong, and DK1 is the culmination of the sea defense strategy to protect country from the sea," Nam said.

According to Dr. Nam, who was the chairman of the project to design DK1 rig, since 1985, Admiral Cuong predicted that in the near future, Truong Sa (Spratly) area would not be in peace and it would be the main battlefield of the Vietnam Navy. Moreover, the history proved that the enemy mostly attacked Vietnam from the sea, so it is needed to defend the country from the sea.

The idea of building the rig was submitted to the Ministry of Defense and the Chairman of the Council of Ministers (now the Government) by Admiral Cuong. The idea was adopted and Dr. Nam was assigned in charge of design the rig.

On 6/11/1988, the survey group reached the continental shelf for exploration.

To ensure accuracy in calculations, Nam also invited a number of agencies to make independent calculations for comparison. In addition, the design group also checked every detail of the overall work, related to durability, stability, vibration, displacement, etc.

"The DK1 work has the synergy from a large number of scientists, from the country's marine work centers, "Nam said.

To build the rig on the coral foundation as well as the foundation with a thick layer of mud, he used a special structure which can be driven into coral foundation.

After nearly seven months of study and preparation, on October 6, 1989, the first rig named Phuc Tan was raised amid the East Sea as a "special sovereignty markers on the sea."

Subsequently, DK1/1 rig was built at the Tu Chinh bank on June 27, 1989. The DK1 /3,4 rigs were also built in 1989.
"This was the first time we built rigs on the sea so we faced a lot of difficulties," Nam said.

Following the success of the first rigs, Dr. Nam’s design and construction unit learned from experience to build other platforms. The next rigs were built lower to avoid vibration and airstrips were built on the roof. At the beginning, rigs did not have power but then they have solar energy, radio receiver, sponge barrels to grow vegetables, etc.

DK1 / 5,6 rigs were built on Phuc Nguyen and Tu Chinh shoals. When building the two rigs, builders had to stand between the fragile boundaries of life and death. When they were mounting the base and driving piles, a typhoon struck. After 22 hours of struggling with the waves, the construction company could load four poles (normally this task can be finalized in 2 hours). After this stage is driving piles, which is the key to the success of DK1 rig.

Dr. Nam still remembers at about 23pm on October 26, 1990, a foreign ship stormed straight into the construction squad. In the emergency situation, the escort ship had to fire warning shots, forcing the strange ship to run away around 5 knots.

Overcoming all difficulties, other rigs from DK1 / 7 to DK1/21 have been erected in the banks of Huyen Tran, Que Duong to Ca Mau. Since the first rig, Vietnam is currently able to drive piles with a depth of several tens of meters according to design requirements.

As construction works in the sea, the design and construction teams have to perform periodic maintenance at rigs. In addition, they have to reinforce and upgrade rigs in accordance with the new situation.

Recently, the new Phuc Nguyen and DK1/15 rigs were built next to the old rigs. These are the third-generation rigs with solid structure, with an area of about 250m2. The superiority of the new rigs from previous rigs is that their solar panel systems are three times more than the old ones. Even in the rainy season, when there is no sun, or in fog, soldiers on these rigs still have electricity for lighting, cooking, running the fridge, or to watch TV in a month while it is only ten days for other rigs.

"DK1 rigs were built in specific areas, which are unprecedented both in Vietnam and the world. They are appreciated by many renowned scientists as extraordinary works of courage. They not only have the significant meaning in politics, defense and security, but also open a bright future for our country’s young career to conquer the sea ", Dr. Nam said.

Standing in the sea with the pins driven deeply into the ocean bed, 20 DK1 rigs of Vietnam are life milestones that confirm the country's sovereignty in the East Sea.

These economic, scientific and technological service stations are also known as "the villages on the sea," "hotels amid the East Sea," or "magic eyes on the sea."

Pictures of DK1 rigs on the East Sea: