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Readers of the series Vulcan: The Offshore Experience may recall that Vulcan Iron Works' years offshore were described as “the experience of a lifetime.” If there is one experience that stands out as making it that way, it was without a doubt Vulcan's sale of two large offshore pile hammers to the entity that is now the China National Offshore Oil Company (CNOOC,) the first in 1981 and the second two years later.
Vulcan is frequently remembered as an old company with an old technology. But Vulcan was an innovator in some ways, as its patent list will attest. An exporting company from the earliest years of making pile drivers, Vulcan was the first American company in its industry to establish commercial relations of any kind with either the People's Republic of China and the Soviet Union, and both of them when these countries were "opening up" after years of being closed.
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Below: The Forbidden City, Beijing, during our first visit to China in 1981.
Originally posted October 2007. Last revision September 2010.