Rig Electrician Says Alarm Disabled So Crew Could Sleep

New Orleans, La. – The chief electronics technician testifying at a hearing outside New Orleans says the alarm system on the Deepwater Horizon rig would have sounded if it detected fire or toxic gas. Michael Williams worked for rig owner Transocean of Houston. He told the committee that his supervisors were aware the alarm was disabled months before the April 20th explosion. Eleven workers died in the blast. Transocean has not responded to the statement. The panel includes members of the Coast Guard and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management - formerly known as the Minerals Management Service. It's been hearing about multiple maintenance and computer problems on the rig. It heard nothing, though, on Wednesday, when Transocean witnesses refused to attend. The panel is scheduled to convene next month in Houston.
For NPR News, I'm Eileen Fleming in New Orleans.