Despite good intentions
this comment is a little late. Maybe it is one of the problems of a web
based publication that no-one actually needs to distribute it.
OTHER SORTS OF SUPPLY SHIP
That quite well known
publication the Offshore Support Journal recently published a long article
about yet another new sort of supply vessel. The article was about two
sulphur ships which were being converted by Hornbeck in the USA into very
large offshore cargo carriers. Curiously the article rings a bell, and I may
be wrong but I seem to recollect that a number of years ago such a project
had been punted before. Perhaps memory plays tricks, or perhaps it is a
project which was shelved due to the previous downturn.
Anyway, here it is again,
and apparently Hornbeck are assessing the best options for the vessels. The
concept of the all aft supply vessel is not new. Possibly the first all aft
supply vessel was the Oil Challenger which arrived in the North Sea in 1976
to act a a pipe pipe carrier for the Viking Piper. Unfortunately when it
arrived with its first load of pipe it was found that the accommodation and
parts of the upper works of the barge contacted every time a wave passed.
The ship was retired to the Tay where it lay for a couple of years before
being bought by Heerema to become a general heavy lift carrier. Then of
course we have the Viking Avant, also suggested to be new. In fact possibly
the only reason the Oil Challenger failed was because no-one had grasped the
concept of working cargo without tying up.
Probably I need say no
more, but what a strange world we live in. If one pores through the
electronic and paper records available to us, it is amazing how many very
old supply vessels are still at work. I was surprised to find that the Wimbrown 1, a vessel so slow that I once overtook in in a survey ship towing two miles of seismic cable, is still at work out in
Egypt. And if one looks closely it is even possible to find ships built in
the late 1950s in the American Gulf, still doing things somewhere.
Meanwhile the Norwegians
in their quest for progress are designing fully automated anchor-handlers. When they are at work it will only be necessary for the ship to be moved
close to a rig and be put in DP and then for the deck crew to operate all
sorts of mechanical arms, levers, bridge cranes, hooks and hoists to achieve
any necessary objective.
It may be a bit cynical,
but one wonders whether the increase in automation will make the job safer
or more dangerous. One of the systems on offer will apparently do everything
to connect two pennants together, except actually insert the shackle pin. This means
that a human has to approach the shackle, being held by the two cranes and
insert the pin. Will the height and attitude of the proffered shackle be
correct, or will the human end up giving the operators hand signals, to move
the assemblage of mechanica without actually knowing anything about the
forces being held in check by the system, and what the results of any change
THE JIGSAW PROJECT
It has been ages since I
last commented on Jigsaw, which for those who are only just getting up to
speed on what is happening offshore in the North Sea, is a system of vessels
and helicopter which are to replace a number of standby vessels. The ships,
of which there are intended to be four, have been built in China and the
last one is on its way here. These extremely large and imposing vessels are
to be fitted with ARRCs (Autonomous Rescue Craft - don't know what the
second R stands for), which are very large daughter craft which, it is
intended, will be able to leave the mother ship and if necessary rescue
people from the sea and go to the shore with them. In addition there will be
number of helicopters with all sorts of wonder features which will allow
them to rescue people from the sea in the most difficult circumstances.
Three of these vessels
are currently occupying a lot of quay space in Aberdeen, as well as making
occasional voyages offshore with cargo, their ARRC davits empty. However,
from the MMASS office it is currently possible to see one of them across the
other side of the dock, with an ARRC in the davits on the starboard side.
So, some years after the intended start date for the project is it finally
getting under way?
RIG SHIFTING FOR FUN
The increase in the price
of oil is doing other things besides making the school run more expensive.
Many supply ships and anchor-handlers are being built, all over the world,
and it seems that every yard that can built them is in on the act.
Apparently in China European suppliers of marine equipment are taking order
for bits of ships to be built at yards which themselves do not yet exist.
Meanwhile the prices for
anchor-handlers in the North Sea have reached unheard-of heights. The
economy model that is the Havila Force recently commanded a price of
£130,000 per day, indicating that it does not really matter what you build,
or what its limitations it can command a good price on the day. Actually we
think that there is a bit of scope for economy models, if they have a large
deck area, and plenty of underdeck tankage they could be hired long term to
avoid some of these enormous day rates, and no-one is going to take on a
ship long term whose best task is installing 5" chain moorings for FPSOs.
A FESTIVE SEASON
the Stirling Aquarius (now the Dina Aquarius) in January 2006. It was a cold
day, and there is pancake ice in the river. There are also a few Eider
ducks, and the new harbour control is conspicuous by its absence. Best
wishes to all our visitors from us at shipsandoil, and our sponsors.