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Many of the readers of this site are not mariners and there are also those who are not involved in the offshore industry, so this glossary is included here. It is one of the appendices in "Supply Ship Operations" but items can be added at the request of our readers. Typically a while ago some-one asked me what an "AB" was, so it is now the first item in the section.

AB. Able Bodied Seaman. In the British nautical hierarchy after some time at sea a seaman can take an examination for EDH (Efficient Deck Hand) and then after further years at sea can be formally qualified as an AB.

A-FRAME. A hinged frame on the stern of offshore vessels used for the launching and recovery of manned submersibles, and initially for the recovery of anchors.

AGITATORS. Propeller shaped units fitted inside the mud tanks of supply vessels to keep the solids in suspension.

AHTS Anchor Handling Tug Supply Vessel. See Anchor Handler.

AIR GUN. A device using high pressure compressed air to produce an underwater explosion for seismic work.

ANCHOR HANDLER. A supply vessel equipped for the deployment of anchors and for towing.

ANCHOR HANDLING TONG. Hydraulically operated equipment for holding anchor wires and chains on the deck of an anchor handler.

ANCHOR JOB. The complete operation of moving an oil rig.

ANCHOR SPREAD. An expression to describe the deployed anchors of a semi-submersible.

ARTEMIS. A short range positioning system used by dynamically positioned vessels.

AVERY-HARDOLL. A hose connection used for fuel transfer which is self sealing when disconnected.

AZIMUTHING THRUSTER. An omnidirectional thruster which can be steered from the bridge.

BACK-UP ANCHOR. An additional anchor attached to the main anchor to improve holding.

BANKSMAN.  A man who signals to the crane driver when the hook is out of his sight.

BARREL. A measurement of liquid used in the oil industry. 6.3 bbls to the cubic meter.

BARYTES. A mineral used to weight mud.

BASE OIL. The basic oil from wich oil based mud is produced.

BASKET TRANSFER. The movement of personnel between offshore installations and marine craft by means of the "basket" on the crane.

BECKER RUDDER. A proprietry brand of flap rudder. See Flap Rudder.

BENTONITE.A mineral used in the manufacture of drilling fluid.

BIRD. An electroniocally controlled vane used to regulate the depth of a seismic able.

BLOW-OUT PREVENTER. A device consisting of pistons within the christrmas tree, which close together, severing the drill string, and cutting off the well.

BOLLARD PULL. The measurement of the pulling capability of tugs defined in tonnes.

BOLSTER. The fabricated rack at the bottom of the legs of semi-submersibles on which the anchor rests.

BOP See Blow Out Preventer.

Bowthruster. Azimuthing or tunnel thruster situated at the bow of the vessel.

BREAKING OUT. The moment when the anchor handler pulls the rig anchor out of the seabed.

BRIDLE. The short single or double wire on the barge or semi-submersible to which the tow wire is attached.

BRINE. Chemically formulated solution of considerable weight, used in drilling instead of mud.

BRUCE ANCHOR. High holding power fabracated anchr.

BULK. Oil industry term for any sort of bulk powder cargo.

BURIED TURNS. In general refering to turns on the workdrum caused when weight is put on a lossely reeled wire.

CAMLOCK. A hose connection used in the road transport industry, but now not much at sea.

CAPPING. Capping the well. the precedure of shuting down a well for later re-entry.

CARPENTER's STOPPER. A stopper which by sliding wedges, allows a wire to be stoppered off at a point other than a splice.

CASING. The piping, in various sizes, used to line the well.

CEMENT. Standard cement, carried in the bulk tanks of supply vessels and used to fix the casing in place.

CIRCULATING SYSTEM. Used for circulating oil based mud in an effort to keep the barytes in suspension.

CO-ORDINATOR SURFACE SEARCH. A surface vessel whose responsibility is to delegate to the various search group leaders.

CRABBING. Moving sideways by using the main engines, rudders and thrusters.

CRANE LEG. A lighter wire and hook fitted to the main crane wire.

CRASH BARRIER. The rails along the sides of supply vessels behind which the crew can shelter from moving cargo etc.

CROSSING THE STICKS. Putting on engine ahead and one astern, usually as part of the crabbing manoeuvre.

CROWN CHAIN. A short length of chain from the crown of a rig anchor to the first pennant.

CSS. See Co-Ordinator Surface Search.

CULLEN REPORT. The report on the enquiry into the Piper Alpha disaster.

D-Shackle. Conventionally shaped shackle use in anchor work.

DATA ACQUESITION. The task of seismic survey vessels.

DECK SHEATHING. The wooden planking fitted to the decks of all supply vessels.

DELTA FLIPPER. A type of high holding power anchor.

DEVIATED DRILLING. Drilling holes away from the vertical to extend the recovery area of an oil field.

DIFFERENTIAL GPS. Precise position fixing system using the GPS system with base stations which compare actual and theoretical positions, and transmit this data to the mobiles.

DIVING SHIP. Any ship whose primary function is the deployment of divers.

DIVING SPREAD. All the paraphenalia used in diving, the bell the umbilicals the saturation chamber, etc.

DODGING. Steaming slowly up and down on location, waiting for something to happen. Much used in rough weather.

DOLLY. Rotating sleeve mounted on the crash barrier for altering the direction of pull of the tugger wires.

DOWN HOLE SURVEY. Survey carried out with an airgun on a support vessel and a geophone down the well.

DP see Dynamic Positioning.

DP1. A dynamic positioning system using only one reference source, one computer etc.

DPII. A dynamic positioning system using two references, two computers and in general is a system which would not be vulnerable to a single point failure.

DPIII. Much the same as DPII except that additionally the system is not vulnerable to accident, such as engine room fire. This requires a DPIII vessel to have two engine rooms.

DRILL STRING. The complete length if drill pipe being used at any time.

DRILLING DERRICK. The actual structure from which the drill string hangs.

DRILLING FLUID. Any fluid used to provide the hydrostatic head and recover the drilling slurry. Includes brine and all sorts of mud.

DRILL PIPE. The individual lengths of pipe used to make up the drill string.

DRILL WATER. Fresh water used for drilling mud, usually carried in supply vessel ballast tanks.

DRIVING> The term used in the industry for manoeuvring supply vessels.

DRY HOLE. A well within which no oil is found.

DSV. Dive Support Vessel. See Diving Ship.

DYNAMIC POSITIONING. Any positioning system which involves a direct interface between a position fixing system, a computer and the engines and thrusters.

ELEPHANTS FEET. Horizontal plates on top of the towing pins which turn inwards to trap the wire in the resulting rectangular space.

ENVIRONMENTALLY BASED MUD. A type of mud with the same properties as oil based mud, but which is environmentally safe.

ERRV. Emergency Response and Rescue Vessel (From the ERRVA website).

EXPLORATION RIG. Any mobile platform on which the drilling derrick is mounted.

FAST RESCUE CRAFT. Small craft deployed from support craft for the purposes of personnel recovery.

FISH BOX HOOK. Length of heavy wire with a hook in the end used for moving things round the deck of support vessels.

FISHBASKET. As the name implies, a wicker basket used in the fishing industry, useful for holding small tools during anchor jobs.

FLAP RUDDER. A rudder with a hinged flap at the trailing edge to increase the turning effect.

FLARE BOOM. Long boom for flaring gas on production platforms, or shorter boom on exploration rigs used for flaring oil during testing.

FLOATING STORAGE UNIT. Hull, usually an ex-tanker, moored at the bow, and used for storing oil on small fields.

FLOTATION COLLAR. Collar fitted to rig hoses to give them buoyancy.

FLOTEL. Accommodation unit placed on a semi-submersible hull.

FRC see Fast Rescue Craft.

FREE FALL LIFEBOAT. A lifeboat which is launched without restraint into the sea.

FSU. See Floating Storage Unit.

FUSE LINK. A short wire fitted between the bridle and the towline which is of slightly lower breaking strain than the rest of the set-up.

GEOPHONE. Receiver for the sound waves generated by the airguns used in seismic survey. Set at intervals along the cable.

GOB PLATE. A plate bolted to the deck to which is attached a short chain with a shackle which goes round the tow wire.

GOB WIRE. Usually a workwire fed through a point in the deck near the stern of an AHTS and shackled round the tow wire.

GPS. Global Postioning System. A US Goverment set of satellites giving precise position fixing worldwide.

GROUT. A type of cement carried in supply vessel bulk tanks.

GUIDE BASE. The first fitting attached to the end of the 30" casing, onto which the rest of the wellhead equipment is fitted.

GUN ARRAY. One set of airguns deployed from a seismic survey vessel.

HEAVY LIFT BARGE. Semi-submersible barge fitted with one or two very large cranes.

HELIDECK. The landing area for helicopters on rigs and large support vessels.

HINGE LINK. A joining link used much for connecting pennants instead of D-shackles since less damage to the wires results.

HOLE. Common term for the well being drilled.

HYPABARIC LIFEBOAT. A lifeboat capable of being pressurized, for rescuing divers from sinking DSVs.

IMO. International Maritime Organisation

J-HOOK. Chaser used for recovering anchors whose buoys have been lost.

JACK-UP. Drilling rig which jacks itself out of the water on three or four legs.

JACKET. The steel base structure of a platform.

JEWELLRY. The hardware used in the make-up of rig anchring and chasing systems.

JOYSTICK. Single stick manoeuvring equipment interfacing a computer with engines and thrusters.

KARMFORK. Wire handling equipment consisting of hydraulic posts slotted in the top to receive the pennants or chains.

KIP. A unique oil industry measurement of tension in anchor wires. A Kilo Pound or 1000 lb.

KORT NOZZLE. Fabriacted tube round the propellers of tugs which increased the bollard pull.

LASSO. Length of wire, usually fitted with a short length of chain in the centre, thrown over the anchor buoy from the AHTS.

LEAD TUG. The towing vessel nominally in charge of the tow, and at the least followed by the second tug.

LOADING LIST. List of items to be loaded in port on a supply vessel.

LWT. Standard US Navy Lightweight design anchor.

MANNED SUBMERSIBLE. Submarine deployed from mother ship, usually capable of carrying up to five personnel.

MARGINAL WEATHER. Euphamistic term to describe weather in which the Master must decide whether it is suitable to work.

MARINE RISER. The tube between the wellhead and the rig. Protects the drill string and carries the drilling fluid.

MIMIC BOARD. A board which allows the electrical operation of valves, and shows whether they are open or closed.

MOONPOOL. A space in the centre of diving ships through which the bell is lowered.

MSV see Multi Role Support Vessel.

MULTI-ROLE SUPPORT VESSEL. Usually semi-submersible fitted with thrusters and moorings. Can provide accommodation, diving services and emergency and firefighting.

OBM. See Oil Based Mud.

OFFSHORE INSTALLATION MANAGER. The manager of a platform responsible for all aspects of its operations.

OIL BASED MUD. Drilling fluid consisting of de-toxified gas oil to which barytes and other chemicals are added.

OIM see Offshore Installation Manager.

ONE-FOR-ONE. The practice of lifting a container out of the stow of a support vessel and returing one to the same space.

ON SCENE COMMANDER. The person locally in charge of a marine emergency. Either an OIM or a military aircraft.

OSC. see above.

OPERATOR. An oil company who carries out the operation of an exploration well or producing field on behalf of the partners.

PELICAN HOOK. A wire securing device adopted and modified by the industry used

PENNANT. Term for all wires used in the string between the surface buoy and the crown of the rig anchor.

PIGTAIL. The short wire from the underside of the surface buoy to the first pennant.

PILE. Offshore this usually means the tubulars used to pin the jacket to the seabed.

PIPE CARRIER. A type of support vessel designed to carry pipe for the pipe-barges.

PIPE LAYING BARGE. A barge equipped to weld lengths of pipe together and then to feed them over the stern as a pipe-line.

PLATFORM. see Production Platform.

PLATFORM SUPPLY VESSEL. Today this usually means any support vessel not fitted with a winch, ie designed for the carriage of cargo only.

PONTOON. The lower horizontal buoyant structure which supports the vertical columns of semi-submersibles.

POP-UPS. see Towing Pins.

POTABLE WATER. Water suitable for drinking, carried in dedicated tanks on supply vessels.

PSV see Platform Supply Vessel.

PULSE 8. Early Decca positioning system which used mobile stations.

RACKING. The action of bringing the rig anchor onto the bolster.

RESCUE BASKET. A large buoyant ring with netting meeting above it at a lifting point. To be hung over the side of a standby vessel on its crane to pick up survivors.

RESERVOIR. The oil bearing strata tapped by the hole

RIB see Rigid Inflatable Boat

RIG CHAIN LOCKER. Compartments beneath the winch of an Anchor Hnadler for storage of rig chain.

RIGID INFLATABLE BOAT. Rigid hull with inflatable rubber sides often used as FRC.

ROLLER. The roller on the stern of the anchor handler which allows the wires and eventually the anchor free passage aboard.

SAFETY HOOK. A latched hook used by rig cranes which normally avoid hooking on to the ship's structure.

SATELLITE WELL. A well some distance from the main platform of a field, with a subsea completion and control and pipelines to the main platform.

SATURATION DIVING. Diving operations where the divers remain at the pressure of the seabed in a pressure vessel on board the ship.

SBV. see Standby Vessel.

SCRAMBLING NET. Net hung over the side of SBVs up which survivors might be able to scramble.

SEDIMENT. The solids which are left in the mud tanks of supply vessels after cargo discharge.

SEMI-SUBMERSIBLE. Craft, usually an exploration rig, with a shallow draft for moving and a deep draft which gives a stable platform and reduces wave action while drilling.

SHARK'S JAW. Type of anchopr handling tong - usually the Ulstein type.


SLIDES. Heavy canvas panels in the lower section through which air is blown to assist with discharge.

SLOTTING. See One-for-One.

SMITTLOCK. A now totally outdated wire securing system, formerly used for anchor handling.

SNATCHING. Maintaining position under the rig crane using engines and thrusters.

SOAKING. Allowing the anchors of a rig to settle for several hours.

SPOOLING ON. Reeling pennants from coils or drums onto the work drum.

SPOT CHARTER. Short term hire. Ships taken short term may receive no more than an hours notice, and the hire period ends when-ever the oil company has finished with them.

SPRING BUOY. Spring buoys are sometimes fitted part way down a pennant string to keep the crown pennant clear of the seabed.

SPUDDING IN. The initial breaking of the surface with the largest drill bit at the commencement of a hole.

STANDBY VESSEL. The craft standing by offshore installations with for the purpose of rescuing personnel from the water.


STEVIN ANCHOR. Conventionally shaped but fabricated anchor often used as a piggy back.

STEVPRIS ANCHOR> Very large parallel fluke twin shank anchor with good holding power.

SUBMERSIBLE DRILLING RIG. A drilling rig which is sunk to the seabed when in drilling position.

SUBSEA BUOY. Buoy secured to the seabed, and released by a radio signal.

SUBSEA COMPLETION. A well head or number of wellheads terminating on the seabed rather than on a platform, and connected to the platform by umbilicals.

SURFACE BUOY. The buoy holding up the pennant string from a rig anchor.

SWOPS VESSEL. Tanker capable of connecting up to a suitably installed wellhead and extracting the oil therefrom. Only one exists.

SYLEDIS. Position fixing system using mobile stations mainly used by seismic ships.

TAG LINES. Lines hanging from the ends of tubulars to steady them, either on the ship or the rig.

TAUT WIRE. A position fixing system used by diving ships consisting of a heavy weight lowered to the seabed allowing the comuter to monitor the angles of its attached wire.

TEMPLATE. A structure lowered to the seabed through which the wells of a production field may be drilled by a semi-submersible.

TEMPSC. Totally Enclosed Motor Propelled Survival Craft. Rig lifeboat.

TENSION LEG PLATFORM. A semi-submersible platform attached to the seabed by heavy wires tensioned against the buoyancy of the unit.

TERM CHARTER. A negotiated period of supply vessel hire, from one month to 5 years, with any period in between.

TLP. see Tension Leg Platform.

TOPSIDES. The working part of a platform including the living drilling and production modules.

TOWING GATE. A gate on older anmchor handlers which was closed under the tow wire so as to allow the wire free movement.

TOWING POD. A large tube bolted at tow wire height into the middle of the deck, the tow wire then being passed through it.

TOWING SLEEVE. A nylon sleeve on the tow wire, positioned at the point of contact with the stern to obviate wear.

TOWING SPRING. A multi-stranded heavy duty nylon spring intened to be fitted between the bridle and the tow wire, to reduce shock loading.

TOWMASTER. Expert usuallu employed by the oil company to take charge of rig moves.

TRIPLEX GEAR. Wire securing equipment. The most elaborate of the types available.

TUBULARS. Any form of pipe being carried on the deck of a supply vessel.

TUGGER. Small winch at the fore end of the supply vessel deck. The name is taken from small winches used on exploration rigs.

TUNING FORK. Twin pronged hook used to handle chain. Fitted to the end of the work wire.

VICENAY. Manufacturer of LWT anchor.

WATER BASED MUD. The most basic drilling fluid using drill water and barytes mixed on the rig.

WECO. A hose connection used throughout the oil industry.

Victor Gibson. May 2009.


Deepwater Horizon -The President's Report
Deepwater Horizon - The Progess of the Event

The KULLUK Grounding
The Costa Concordia Report
The Costa Concordia Grounding
The Elgin Gas Leak
The Loss of the Normand Rough
The Bourbon Dolphin Accident
The Loss of the Stevns Power
Another Marine Disaster
Something About the P36
The Cormorant Alpha Accident
The Ocean Ranger Disaster
The Loss of the Ocean Express

The Life of the Oil Mariner
Offshore Technology and the Kursk
The Sovereign Explorer and the Black Marlin

Safety Case and SEMS
Practical Safety Case Development
Preventing Fires and Explosions Offshore
The ALARP Demonstration
PFEER, DCR and Verification
PFEER and the Dacon Scoop
Human Error and Heavy Weather Damage
Lifeboats & Offshore Installations
More about PFEER
The Offshore Safety Regime - Fit for the Next Decade
The Safety Case and its Future
Collision Risk Management
Shuttle Tanker Collisions
A Good Prospect of Recovery

The History of the UT 704
The Peterhead Connection
Goodbye Kiss
Uses for New Ships
Supporting Deepwater Drilling
Jack-up Moving - An Overview
Seismic Surveying
Breaking the Ice
Tank Cleaning and the Environment
More about Mud Tank Cleaning
Tank Cleaning in 2004
Glossary of Terms

An Unusual Investigation
Gaia and Oil Pollution
The True Price of Oil
Icebergs and Anchor-Handlers
Atlantic SOS
The Greatest Influence
How It Used to Be
Homemade Pizza
Goodbye Far Turbot
The Ship Manager
Running Aground
A Cook's Tale
Navigating the Channel
The Captain's Letter

The Sealaunch Project
Ghost Ships of Hartlepool
Beam Him Up Scotty
The Bilbao OSV Conference