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In a radical departure from the current spate of UT728 and UT722 buildings, International Offshore Services, a 50/50 venture between P&O Australia and Farstad, have ordered two UT712s from the Norwegian yard Simek.

Those unfamiliar with the Rolls Royce Ulstein numbers will find little remarkable in this, however it is a move which will surprise other ship-owners, and probably some builders, principally because the 712 first appeared in 1984. At a time when Ulstein ship types were less prolific than they are now, it followed the UT708, which followed the UT704 but only two were built. These were the Normand Jarl and the Normand Drott two vessel still frequently to be seen in Aberdeen.

Shortly after the two 712s came into service the oil industry dived spectacularly into a period of famine the like of which had not been seen before and which hopefully will not be seen again and as a result there were very few newbuildings for a number of years. By the time fortunes were being restored it was evident that much future development lay in deeper water and so very much larger vessels were being commissioned. The 712 at a mere 12000 bhp was hardly worthy of consideration.   

One assumes that the management of IOS have some particular reasons for selecting the 712 and its a pity we don't know what they are. But no matter, its great to see the 712 recognised as a worthwhile design.

The Normand Jarl and Normand Drott can be found on the OSV page.


This year the Leith International Conference took place in Aberdeen  attended by safety professionals from all over the world, although not in as great numbers as in years gone by.

The standby vessel (now ERRV) industry however supplied quite a group of delegates, led by Jeremy Daniel of the ERRV owners association. They were there, one assumes, to combat the continuing progress of BPs Operation Jigsaw towards fulfilment (Those not familiar see previous articles).   

They were not to be disappointed when they heard  a pilot from Bristows describe his company's involvement in the project and how, "on successful completion of the trial, the full Jigsaw programme will be implemented as soon as possible." While protests were obviously made, the pilot could be forgiven for taking the view he did, since BP seem to be prepared to go to any lengths to support the project. Afterwards a spokesman for the company said:

"An extensive consultation process - involving employees, union reps and the Health and Safety Executive - would continue throughout and after the trials before a decision was reached about implementation." and "The earliest Jigsaw could come in would be 2004 - and that would only be if everyone is happy about it. We have to prove to the HSE that this is a better system."

This being a free internet magazine without revenue, we can't spend too much on research, but we did go to the Leith Conference and we heard while there that BP are currently developing a special FRC, to overcome the problem of recovery to platforms in adverse weather. These craft are apparently intended to be launched from the platform, to carry out their rescue work, and then to depart for the shore at over 40 knots. We don't know if anyone in BP has watched Jeremy Clarkson on powerboat racing. These fearsome machines seem to suffer in swells, sometimes diving into the waves and breaking up, sometimes rocketing skyward to fall back into the sea stern first, or upside down. No matter, with enough money even those sorts of problems can be solved. In fact the  Lifeboat service seemed to be showing an interest.  

Regardless of whether Jigsaw is a success there have already been fruits from BPs research, in the form of a wristwatch sized locator beacon one of which is going to be issued to each BP employee on their offshore installations. It seems to us that this form of watch may become a fashion accessory of the future!


Well so what! you may think. The Far Scotsman is an early ME202 originally built by Seaforth as the Seaforth Monarch. It was built in Singapore in 1982. She has a sister ship, the Far Scotia. Either when constructed, or shortly afterwards these ships were fitted with large wire mooring systems on the bow, to enable them to tie up the semi-submersibles in deep water. Of course, these systems were never used. 

The particular reason for the inclusion of the information on these pages is that the Far Scotsman was fitted with a Marex tank cleaning system back in about 1994 in Peterhead at the instigation of Phillips UK. Hence the ship could be the first one to enter Australian waters fitted with a mud tank cleaning system.

We hope that some-one will think of using it.  


No really - the Woollybutt Field! Do you think that some-one in Australia is having us on? We wonder what sort of names they are going to come up with next.

However, the point of these words are not to comment on Australian names but to announce the fact that Vanguard Floating Production Ltd together with its partners has concluded a contract with Agip Australia Ltd to provide and FPSO for the above named field.

Vanguard is providing project management, engineering, vessel conversion and operations management services together with the required mooring solution, and will undertake these tasks together with its sister companies London Offshore Consultants and London Marine  Consultants.

A vessel is to be sourced and will commence conversion mid 2002. First oil is being projected for January 2003.

If this announcement seems a bit off beam for us, we have included it because some-one gave us the press release. This is the first time this has happened despite our extensive worldwide readership!


We feel constant distress at the ability of the media to get wrong anything to do with the marine environment, and it makes one wonder what else they are getting wrong that we do not know about, but unfortunately the tendency is not limited to those who cannot be expected to know.

In the not too distant past Ship and Boat International, a magazine which has been owned for years by the Institute of Naval Architects managed to publish a picture of the underside of a tug upside down and even more recently the Offshore Support Journal published a picture of a mud tank agitator 90 degrees out so that it looked like a propeller. There have also been frequent occasions where pictures of ships have been misnamed in the caption, even though the name of the ship has been visible in the picture. The message to sub-editors should be "Take more time!" or to editors who do not have sub-editors, "Get a sub-editor."

An even more recent, and more entertaining, editing error appeared in last month's copy of International Tug and Salvage, in their report on the launching of the Stirling Seacor anchor-handler "Stirling  Jura" at Fergusons, Port Glasgow. They say "Stirling Jura is therefore a multi-disciplined vessel designed to deliver supplies to oil and gas production facilities, and also to be able to lift and manoeuvre the massive anchors which hold the rigs in position, with the capacity to lift some of the heaviest anchors, of up to 173 tonnes directly from the seabed."

Wow! Those are heavy anchors! 

It sounds as if the shipyard should get some-one who knows something about support vessels to write their press releases and that Tug and Salvage should read them properly.


Wellships, the new UK based international group has ordered the first mono-hull well intervention vessel from Van der Giessen-de-Noord in Holland.

This is the second shot at this particular type of ship and has been prompted by a Shell requirement. A few years ago Shell and others asked for tenders for such a vessel prompting responses from a number of players with a variety of levels of expertise. The problem then appeared to be that the people who had existing DP expertise did not have well intervention or even drilling experience, and those tendering with drilling experience did not have appropriate marine expertise.

At the time Marex provided the majority of the contestants with quotations for tank cleaning systems, so we were disappointed when no-one got the job. 

Incidentally for those who are wondering what the hell well intervention is, it is the process of maintaining the wells so that an acceptable level of production can be kept up. The requirement for the job to be carried out has been prompted by the continuing increase in the number of subsea completions, which are wells with the wellhead on the seabed connected by a flowline to a platform or FPSO at a distance. The work has traditionally been done by semi-submersibles since so far they have been to only stable platforms available, but there are disadvantages in the time taken up mooring them, and the slow transit times. Also there are risks relating to dropping things on the subsea templates and there are increasing costs of hiring anchor-handlers.

So all in all it seems like a good idea to use a mono-hull, although it remains to be seem whether all the possible problems have been overcome.   




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