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am delighted to have been asked t take over this part of the website,
releasing Vic for other - probably much more absorbing - things! Whilst I am
not new to either the North Sea or to features writing, I am very new to
presenting a regular running commentary on the game. Bear with me while I
find my feet but let’s just say that normal service will not be disrupted,
despite the name change.
wont bore you with too many details about who I am, what I did or what’s
happening in my life now but suffice to say I have ‘done my time’ in the
North Sea in the days when the lager advert Vic referred to in a previous
column was being shown regularly to hoots of derision in the mess room!
Also, just to add a bit more carbon dating to my scanty CV, I was
there when they were building the Ninian Central Platform in Loch Kishorn.
Get that date right and you’ll have a fair idea of when I was washing up
and down decks! Nowadays I have a much more dry position behind a desk
working for one of the Shire Councils - but my love of ships and the sea
hasn’t diminished one iota. What’s more, my interest in the offshore
game is still as sharp as it ever was. I just hope that I can capture some
of Vic’s spirit and enthusiasm - with just the odd bit of cynicism thrown
in for good measure.
in the first week of January were not looking too bright, with the spot
market as still as much of the snow that fell on the Grampian Ranges.
Seabrokers report that the market picked up during the second week
with four rig shifts causing ripples that unfortunately did little
for the market state for the rest of the month. It appears that the forecast
for the market is a bit like the weather - remaining unclear for a while
with the chance of some sunny spells later on. In their December issue of
their magazine ‘Seabreezes’. they added that
“Overall, the demand for long term charters commencing in 2003 is
not considered to be high, with availability of all classes of vessels
continuing to increase,” This
has implications for the stand-by ERRV operators as well, with a
‘sluggish’ outlook. Seabrokers have predicted that the market may become
more buoyant towards the end of the first quarter of 2003.
is to be hoped then that February will bring a lift to the hearts of
many ship owners - but it’s a case of ‘wait and see’. However,
with around 15 rigs stacked, the longcast is perhaps more like the vague
expressions so beloved of weather forecasters: ‘Changeable weather is
likely, although many parts of the country will continue to remain the
same’. Says everything - means
Buchan concluded a one year plus option with TFE whilst Troms
was extended with a one year option.
fixed to Agip for one well plus support to Ocean Nomad
whilst Team Marine chartered two PSV’s - Stirling Aquarius
(18 months) and Northern Gambler (two years plus options). The TFE,
Agip and Team Marine were the first contracts awarded at the start of 2003
in the Northsea.
reported delivered during January 2003 are Seabulk Africa (UT755L), Stril
Myster (VS490), Havila Borgenstein (UT722LX) and the Robert H.
Doh (VS 490). Stril Myster commenced a 12 month charter with a 6
month further option for Dong. Stril
Myster has a length of 90.2m, a 19m beam, 985m2 of deck space and is
fitted with contra rotating props to aid fuel consumption. The 20400 BHP
AHTS Havila Borgenstein is to be joined by a sister vessel - Havila
Surf - later in the first quarter of the year.
the pond, Otto Candies took
delivery of the PSV Amy Candies, to be followed by another two sister
ships later this quarter. Edison Chouest also took delivery of their new
NA-2280 class PSV C Leader, again to be followed by a pair of
identical sisters. The vessel is already committed to Shell Oil Co. Delivery
of the other pair should be around mid year. Ms Sara Jane, a new 220
‘super shelf’ type PSV constructed by MNM, a subsidiary of C&G
Boats, was delivered to Bolinger in January claiming that within its 207
feet of length it has superior cargo capacity to a vessel of 220 feet.
are expecting delivery of the first of its Global 100 type PSV’s from
Appledore sometime mid February. Five other vessels are due for delivery in
2004. Toisa have also purchased the UT736 Fresnel from French
Telecom. The vessel had her cable laying kit removed, replaced by equipment
suited to the subsea construction and well intervention market.
Viking, a VS-470 design for Eidesvik, has been delivered by West
Contractors AS in Ølensvåg, Norway. The
vessel has been chartered by Total Fina Elf for work in Nigeria’s Amenan
field. A sister vessel - Viking Surf - should appear mid February and
will run alongside her sister on the same 18 month charter. I wonder how
long it will be before someone gets the two mixed up?
International announced that it will bareboat charter two newbuilds from The
Labroy Group of Indonesia. The vessels - Seabulk Padamyar 3600hp AHTS
and Seabulk Nylar 3800hp PSV - will be employed in the SE Asia market
on 3 year contracts with two option years.
reports that the Stirling Islay and Stirling Jura have gone
onto maintenance prior to their handover to BUE and departure to the Caspian
Sea. BUE purchased both vessels which are due to depart UK waters for
charters with BP Azerbaijan. The vessels will lose their ‘Stirling’
pre-name, becoming Jura and Islay.
Both ships were built to the Vik Sandvik VS475 design with a length
oa of 74.45m, moulded breadth of 6m and a maximum draft of 6.5m. Driven by
Wartsila 12V32 main engines producing 15000BHP they have a bollard pull
around the 175 tonne mark making them a pretty handy pair. However, their
place within Stirling Ship Management’s fleet will be taken by two AHTS
due for delivery next month.
with Stirling, the veteran UT734 Stirling Sirius has been sold to
Hua Wei for an undisclosed sum. She has taken up the name Hua Shun.
new 74m vessel built to the P106 design is to be built for Farstad ASA to
fulfil a 5 year contract with Peterson Supplylink BV, who provide logistics
for seven Dutch operators within the Southern North Sea Pool. The Contract
has options to extend for another 5 year period. Start date for the contract
is reported to be between Jan 1st and March 31st 2004. Farstad has a fleet
operation of some 44 vessels with 8 on the order books of
month, Vic passed on info about the sale of some of North Star’s vessels
to Middle Eastern buyers. This class - which were small even by the
standards of the day - spawned the four ship TNT series which were built (as
I was told) to an improved design. If memory serves me right they were known
as Clyde 365‘s, with the TNT ships being Improved 365‘s. They were never
built to be anything other than supply ships with closed sterns with main
engines about the same size as the average harbour tug and Vic’s mention
brings to mind a memory of a couple of incidents, one of which I’d like to
recount as it still sticks in my mind.
company were new to the North Sea, managed by ship managers who owned /
operated a small fleet of chemical tankers. Their heritage went right back
to the days when the Merchant Navy was something to behold and companies
were almost household names. The offshore game, however - as many involved
will testify - is completely different. For example, uniformed officers
aboard a very small supply ship might have maintained an old
tradition but was always viewed as being somewhat out of place amidst
the rig booted, orange boiler suited crews of the vessels we tied up
alongside. It is fair to note that this oddity was always seen as
‘quaint’ - and treated with a fair degree of both comment and suspicion!
There was none of the informal team work that supply ships are noted
for - it was, however separate messes, uniforms and traditional shipboard
structure. It was doomed to failure as back then it wasn’t the smart
appearance of crews that won you charters - it was whether you could do the
job. Despite their small size, the ships executed their charters well.
However, the supply boat game could never be said to be a ‘cut and
dried’ sphere of operations.
there would come a request from the rig to do something which was perhaps a
little bit outside of the normal function of the charter. Give the stand-by
ship some fuel and water maybe. Perhaps even deputise for it when it broke
down and had to be towed back to port and a replacement would be a short
while in coming - all things which added to your willingness to be seen as a
‘can do outfit’ - important when you’re looking to establish a
foothold in the business. Nowadays of course, with the spotlight on safety,
the average supply vessel cannot deputise for an ERRV - but back then things
weren’t quite as regulated.
there are some things that you don’t do because you simply haven’t got
the kit or the means to do it -even with the best will in the world. So when
we were told we would be lifting and recovering an anchor buoy which had
parted its moorings, we thought someone must be pulling our leg. Alas, no.
The Master - in his wisdom - had volunteered us to do the job despite the
fact the tuggers on those ships wouldn’t pull the skin off a rice pudding
and, more importantly, the ship had a closed stern. Ergo sum, technically no
can do. Ah, but reputations needed making and contract culture was something
a few individuals put before common sense.
did it - a testimony to the experience of the deck crew - but it was not
without argument. The Mate, whose last position had been on a tanker,
reckoned we could simply pull it up over the stern gate and lash it off. The
Second Mate (another tanker man) reckoned we needed to get it alongside the
aft quarter bits and tow it back. The Old Man (tankers, again...) suggested
we just get it to the ship’s side and lift it with snatch blocks over the
bulwark. It was pointed out to all three that rig anchor buoys weigh a fair
bit and usually had long lengthy bits of wire attached to them
and no-one would know how long it was or where it had parted until
was out of the water. It was also pointed out that capturing the buoy
wasn’t as easy as it looked. In this case, every attempt to get the beast
alongside resulted in the ship’s way through the water pushing the
brightly painted thing out of reach. Much engine movements and scratching of
chins and heads followed until - as the deck crew sat and had a lengthy
smoke-O - the Mate appeared and asked if we knew of a better way. Do the
first thing we did was to make up a lasso of wire strops, using small
shackles eye to eye to increase the bight of it. Then we rove the tugger
down the deck enough to have a good length available to us, shackled a heavy
length of wire strop to a suitable standpoint on the crash barrier. Once
we’d got that set up we told the mate that there was no way the buoy could
be brought on-board but that we’d first have to get it alongside aft and
make it fast to the bitts. Once it was secure we could then use the lasso to
chase down under the buoy until we had
of the pennant wire to bring slowly back aboard, recovering it aboard where
it would be out of the way. Then, with the buoy fast, we could steam slowly
back to the rig and they could have it back.
what we did. It worked and afterwards it was appreciated that whilst the old
traditional values of command and leadership had their place, the North Sea
trades were somewhat different. The apparent lack of informality evident
aboard many supply ships hid a
wealth of experience available simply by agreeing that sometimes the deckies
knew their stuff. Whilst there are many other tales to recount about time in
that company, on that ship they never attempted to chase buoys again.
it for the first one. I hope you enjoyed the round up and illustrated
comment bit. I would welcome any ideas, views, criticisms or comments you
may have. If you want to send an item on for inclusion - from market reports
to old memories - then please contact me directly. The invitation to submit
concerns not just the PR people but also anyone who wishes to send on
something for use. My e-mail address is at the head of the column.
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