|PICTURE OF THE DAY
|NORTH EUROPEAN SHIPS
|SOUTH ATLANTIC AND CARRIBEAN
|INDIA AND INDIAN OCEAN
|NORTH AMERICAN SHIPS
|FAR EAST AND AUSTRALIA
|MEDITERRANEAN AND MIDDLE EAST
|ARTICLES AND FEATURES
|NEWS AND VIEWS
New Newsletter Arrangements
Our friends at Seabrokers have been good enough to give us permission
to use their monthly report on the website which will provide lots of news
about things happening to supply ships, principally in the North Sea.
This should ensure a flow of news even when
the Editor is under pressure. However, this month there are a
few things which deserve comment, and while Seabrokers and indeed the
other brokers in Aberdeen provide news, they seldom provide any comment,
probably on the basis that they might offend someone.
We have also taken the view over the years
that it is not a good idea to offend people, but one eventually realises
that the oil industry is full of people trying to avoid offending someone, and that as a result hardly anyone ever says anything and those
managing the oil and offshore support companies actually think they are
Anyone who can remember the TV series
"I Claudius" will know how it goes. Claudius survived where
others were killed by anticipating what Caligula would want to hear and
telling him. This was serious brown-nosing but was absolutely necessary to
ensure Claudius' survival. Honestly would have done no good at all. But
surely such attitudes would only be applicable in the barbaric context of
Today we hold
out the hope that a bit of honesty does everybody some good, but we won't
be doing it every month. And by the way for those who have not seen
"I Claudius," despite the fact that it is probably 30 years old
it is still stunning stuff.
More About Collisions
Since we last reported, the collision
between the Oil Trader and an Agip platform off the West African
coast has made it to the press and photographs wing their way constantly
over the internet without identifying the source.
The short report in Lloyds List and the
comments on the web make depressing reading, really making one wonder
where the hell we are after all this time. And why we do not seem to be
There is no doubt that the ship ran into
the platform at full speed causing severe damage to the Master's cabin and
the bridge. It was reported that the master was in his cabin, in fact in
his bed, and that he suffered from minor injuries although he might not
have thought them all that minor. It is difficult to imagine how awful the
noise of the collision was, except to those who have been through such an
event, and the shock which would be felt by everyone on board,
particularly the Mate who was on watch at the time.
According to a spokesman from Tidewater
there should have been two people on the bridge and one of them was not
present, specifically against Company instructions. At the time of writing
the investigation into the disaster is still going on, and this
investigation is hampered because the principal witness, the Mate, left
the bridge and hanged himself in the engine room. It seems likely that he
thought his error had cost the Captain his life and he died without
knowing that his assumption was incorrect.
We have all laughed in the past at
photographs of supply vessels buried up to the bridge-front in offshore
installations but now, I suggest, the joke is over, and I have been
wondering what we, the "we" being this small consultancy in
Aberdeen, might do to help. Here is an idea. Collisions between support
vessels and offshore installations would probably be avoided if the
support vessels never at any time headed straight for the installation at
which they are going to work. A couple of degrees down wind or down
current is neither here nor there, but if you forget where you are the
worst thing which can happen is that you are embarrassed when you find
that the rig is behind you not in front of you. So bearing this in mind we
would suggest that all watch-keepers in the offshore industry make an
affirmation that they will not at any time set course directly towards an
offshore installation. It may sound strange but it is surprising what good
a few words will do. So guys, make the affirmation and don't hit anything.
You may use our guest book if you want it to really mean something.
I am hoping never to be out there again
driving a ship, but just in case, here is my affirmation.
I, Victor Gibson, promise that as a
watch-keeper of an offshore support vessel I will never set or maintain a
heading which would result in a collision with an offshore
This is something we can do as individuals
and there is no doubt that the result will be a safer environment, because
this requires no skill, just an intent to be safer.
And Another Thing
You may have heard of the sinking of a survey
ship off Oman. It was a nice day and there were other ships around so
everybody was rescued. And once more the bare facts have been augmented by
rumour on the internet.
Apparently these survey vessels have a sensor
head which is lowered through the hull when survey work is taking place and
raised when the ship is under way between two locations. I had never thought
about it very seriously, but I had a feeling that the tube within which the
sensor head moved up and down ended above the waterline, like a very small
moonpool. This would have stopped water coming in.
No such thing I'm told. These sensor heads
run up and down through glands which are extremely effective and so the tube
in which the sensor runs does not have to end up above the waterline. Well
surely - I thought - the whole thing must be encased in a watertight compartment with a
proper watertight door, so that if there is a leak the watertight integrity
of the ship is not compromised. And anyway these sensor heads must have a
proper mechanical lifting and lowering system with braking devices and fail
safes, to make sure nothing can go wrong. And finally one cannot imagine
that such a device, if it slid rapidly downwards because the lifting system
had failed, could possibly fall through the bottom of the hull, leaving a
Well surely no-one would operate a ship
without at least some of these barriers in place, would they?
Latest Jigsaw News
The latest Jigsaw news is that so much is happening that it would be difficult to present all
the new information in a news item like this. But basically the Bristow's
helicopter which is to be used for the trials will be delivered in a couple
of months, probably in November, and this trial period is likely to take
about 6 months.
However, in addition to the helicopters, no
matter how successful, BP intend to provide a number of large standby
vessels to be known as RSVs (Regional Support Vessels). These vessels will
be 90 meters long and BP is ordering five of them. Should the Jigsaw trials
fail then the five ships will be used a conventional PSVs, but to start with
the first to be delivered in 2004 will be equipped for standby work. This
means that they will be equipped with two ARRCs (Autonomous Rescue and
Recovery Craft) and two FRCs.
The ARRCs are in themselves fairly
breathtaking. They are to be 18.6 metres long, which is larger than an RNLI
lifeboat and they are self righting and are to be capable of 40 knots. The
BP document from which we gleaned this information says that "The RSVs
and associated rescue craft will provide additional rescue resources in case
of an incident at a host platform which disables the SAR helicopter"
and "The RSVs will have the flexibility of being able to move
independently throughout the region as required, providing defence in depth
against a reasonably foreseeable event."
terms of small craft capability these ARRCs are simply awesome.
It is claimed that in addition to their 40 knots top speed they can be
launched in seven metre seas and if necessary can get back to the beach
since they have a range of 800 nautical miles.
the light of this enormous marine investment the question of whether the
helicopters are suitable and what their limitations might be, is beginning to
seem almost irrelevant. We seem to recollect that the original plan was to
replace 17 ERRVs with the helicopters. Now the 17 ERRVs are to be replaced
with with a number of helicopters and five RSVs, each carrying 25 crew,
which is about twice the crew of a conventional standby vessel. Since these
new ships are to be crewed by a company already operating in the sector the
loss to the standby vessel owners will be seven crews if it all
happens. We would suggest that this limited reduction in manpower and
management will be sufficient to keep both the unions and the ERRV
In fact the whole
project is beginning to develop a sort of feel-good factor which is difficult
to resist, despite some nagging doubts about the actual launch capabilities
of a craft weighing more than 10 tonnes, and the actual tasks which might be
undertaken by a vessel "able to move independently throughout the
region." And then there is the small doubt created by the
disclaimer on page 2 of the Project Jigsaw Newsletter. "Jigsaw update
is published in Aberdeen for all its onshore and offshore staff and
contractors in the UK. The contents do not necessarily reflect the official
views of the company.
" Well then. Whose views does it reflect?
The Seabrokers August report suggests that
there are now six rigs In the Cromarty Firth, of which two are not being
marketed at all. Actually there are seven, but one the Kan Tan IV is due out
very soon. The Tin Can as it used to be known has had a chequered career
since it ceased to be the Western Pacesetter IV. It has been managed on
behalf of its Chinese owners by Wilrig, Transocean Drilling, Tor Drilling
and Maersk Contractors, the last two solely during its stay in Invergordon
which started in 1999. The Kan Tan is off the Mexico for several years.
Other reported departures from the support
vessel fleet are a number purchased by the new BUE/Viking group for work in
the Caspian Sea. We are hoping to report further on this migration in the
next issue of the Marex Offshore Review.
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