Offshore drilling innovator Larry Robert Gardner passes at 79


Larry Robert Gardner, 79, engineer of pioneering shallow- and deep-water drilling rigs utilized around the world, passed away early Saturday morning, March 28, 2020. He had been courageously battling multiple varieties of debilitating cancer for many months.

Larry was born in Orange, New Jersey on July 24th, 1940 to the late Robert Woodward Gardner and Catherine Jaceyco Gardner. He was baptized at Saint Stevens Episcopal Church in 1941. Larry and his family moved to Houston, Texas when he was eleven. He later graduated from Bellaire High School with his lifelong friend Pete Ruman.

From Houston, Larry traversed to College Station, Texas and joined the ranks of the (still active) Class of 1963, at Texas A&M College; studying Petroleum Engineering, ultimately graduating as a Professional Engineer.

From College Station, Larry relocated to Dallas, Texas and, joined the fledgling South Eastern Drilling Company (SEDCO) as a Barge Engineer. However, soon thereafter Larry found himself in Japan, involved in the construction of one of the first tri-legged, submersible drilling rigs. From Japan he followed the rig to Southeast Asia and Australia.

In 1970, Larry began work at Rowan Drilling Company (RDC). Because of his experience in offshore drilling, he was assigned to assist in the design and construction of Rowan's first, purpose-built, semi-submersible in joint venture with the Norwegian group Gotaas Larsen. This project soon evolved into two semi-submersibles. Larry completed his work on these two rigs as Project Engineer in 1974. After which he moved back to Houston, joining RDC's Corporate Engineering Department.

Larry would go on to complete a very involved, sorted and satisfying 38-year career with Rowan Companies retiring in 2008 as Rowan's Chief Engineer. Larry worked throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico in both onshore and offshore oilfields. He particularly enjoyed his tenure on the North Slope of Alaska and also working with Rowan's field personnel constructing numerous land and offshore drilling rigs on the Gulf coast.

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