THE BOURBON DOLPHIN
The investigation in
Norway continues into the Bourbon Dolphin accident. The media no longer have
an interest, having moved on to an equally tragic event, but we have
retained the page which describes what the witnesses say happened, in the
hope of offering at least limited relevant information.
Bourbon Dolphin page for more.
VROON GO FOR IT
Vroon, who up to now have
mainly operated standby vessels in the offshore sector seem to be expanding in leaps
and bounds. A while ago they bought a controlling interest in windmill
installing vessel Resolution, and have now purchased Viking Standby. This of
course will mean some changes in the almost daily parade of Viking standby
vessels which pass our windows. The tiger stripe was great on a very limited
number of vessels, but the novelty palls a bit when there are thirty one of
them. we have found that if we want to use a picture of what is now a
striped standby boat, we usually go back to one in its previous life in grey
green or blue.
Now Vroon will be
repainting the whole fleet in the rather fetching white upperworks and
orrange hull with a distinctive "V" on the side, which is their colour
scheme. The new vessels join the Vroon fleet which includes a diverse group
of general cargo and specialised carriers in addition to their offshore
ships. Vroon is also building a number of platform ships in China and
Rumania and the latest additions can be seen in other areas of this site.
THE VITAL SPARK
One of the Sunday papers
reported this week that it is likely that Britain will lose yet another
historic vessel. This is not the Cutty Sark, on which doubtless a king's
ransom will be spent to restore it to a condition which is lightly better
than it was in when it was sailing between China and the UK. No, this is the
"Vital Spark", the actual vessel used in the 1994 series where the vessels
was captained by Gregor Fisher.
It was bought by Mr
Archie McArther who runs an maritime museum at Inveraray a small town on the
western side of Loch Fynne. Of course Inveraray is pretty handy to Crinan
where the little ship is currently located, which maybe gives Mr McArther a
pit of an inducement, because it would not take too much effort to get it to
his museum. However, he was hoping to give it a bit of a facelift to the
extent of £400,000. This may be what it costs to refurbish an old steam
For myself, I love steam
engines. There is something very attractive about them. You open an valve
and they smoke and hiss and burst into life, but somehow they seem to be
controlled. Deck winches powered by steam engines are such fun. They
only need to have the Stevensons Link thrown over and they instantly change
direction. Very useful if a union purchase is being used. But back to the
This ship is not the only
puffer left. The Vic 72 was recently awarded £100,000 by the lottery and is
now running in the Western Isles, taking passengers on cruises. It can also
be found at Interaray. But the existence of one puffer does not
preclude the existence of another, so perhaps it would be worthwhile keeping
the VIC 27 - formerly the Vital Spark - in order. That being said a
visit to the museum website left me slightly confused, so see what you can
make of it.
THE FALKLANDS AFTER 25
As I write this on 14th
June, the commemorations of the Falklands War are taking place. I was
surprised to learn that the queen was at my old school "Pangbourne College"
formerly the Nautical College Pangbourne, where the Falklands Memorial
Chapel is sited. Well they've got plenty of ground - we former pupils would
The Falklands was the
last event where ships were taken up from trade (STUFT), and this for the
uninitiated is how the various ships involved ended up going there. As well
as the major players - the Canberra, the QEII and the Atlantic Conveyor
there were many lesser craft, including ferries tankers and support vessels.
The Wimpey Seahorse was fabled as being able to lay moorings for warships in
the manner required by the Admiralty Manual of Seamanship in three days, as
opposed to the three weeks usually taken by the Admiralty support vessels.
Later the Oil Mariner went out to help with the clear up and look after the
moorings at South Georgia - see features for more.
The Stena Seaspread was
sent out as a repair ship, and proved itself to be immensely versatile and
manoeuvrable. All in all the British merchant service, its seamen and
officers proved themselves to be immensely competent and courageous, and it
is difficult to say how the war would have gone without them. And of course
in gratitude Margaret Thatcher shafted the lot of us.
AND THE SKILLS
It may be that Margaret
Thatcher's faith in the free market is the cause of the current shortage of
British mariners, which is being felt in spades by the offshore industry.
There are insufficient Brits about to do the work that there is available.
And because most of the European nations followed the same process there is
also a shortage of Norwegians, Swedes, Danes, Dutch and Germans. This means
that ship-owners can, if they are lucky, keep their ships going by
recruiting East Europeans which good qualifications and a good command of
English. Marine consultancies on the other hand, who require people with
lots of experience and an excellent command of the language are having a job
to find people to do the work of moving oil rigs, carrying out surveys and
supporting all sorts of complex offshore work, find themselves in a
What is going to happen
in the future is difficult to determine as the shipowners keep building and
the price of oil rises. Perhaps we will have to find a different way of