Southern California Offshore Oil Rigs

Ellen Oil Rig Southern California

This weekend we had the opportunity to dive Eureka, Ellen, and Elly, oil rigs off the coast of Huntington Beach, California. These rigs are in active operation and stand in water 260-720' deep. With special permission from the oil companies that own them, divers can charter boats for the ~10 mile crossing. Anchoring is impractical due to the depth of the ocean at the rigs, and boats are prohibited from tying off to the rigs, so divers enter the water from a "live boat"--that is, a boat whose engines are on (but out of gear), and that is drifting with the current. In this scenario, divers jump in rapid succession, usually in teams; in between teams, the captain will readjust the boat's placement in relation to the rig. The relative urgency of this kind of entry makes live drops an exhilarating way to get in the water.

The rigs are a little less than halfway across the channel to Santa Catalina Island. On a clear day, Catalina is visible from the California mainland; from ten miles offshore, it's hard to miss. Above, the silhouette of the island lies on the horizon behind Ellen, which connects to Elly by the bridge to the right of the photo.

 Technical divers on Elly Oil Rig Jellyfish on Eureka oil rig Harbor seal on Elly oil rig Diving the Eureka Oil Rig Salp chain on Eureka Oil Rig

Check out my SoCal Oil Rigs underwater photo gallery here.


2 Responses to “Southern California Offshore Oil Rigs”

  1. Gary says:

    Do you happen to know if the rigs you speak of come and go? Or do they sit permanently? It seems to me they move, and change position. What do you know about them?

    · December 1, 2014 @ 9:46 am


    • Ashley Hauck says:

      They are very much permanent structures. Thanks for reading! :)

      · December 3, 2014 @ 4:41 am


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