WWW.SHIPSANDOIL.COM
home   Picture of the Day     ship information   articles and features     news and views   publications   webcam 

Locations of visitors to this page

HOME
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
PUBLICATIONS
WEBCAM

PREVIOUS

NEWS AND VIEWS MARCH 2009  

NEXT

HELICOPTER CRASHES

Since the last time I wrote this column two helicopters carrying offshore workers have crashed into the sea, one with the loss of 17 lives. In the other, everyone got into the two liferafts and waited for something more than an hour to be rescued by BP's standby vessel the Caledonian Victory.

It appears that a certain amount of luck was evident in the case of the North Sea Super Puma EC225 which landed on the sea during its approach to the Forties Field. To start with the landing was so gentle that the passengers who had been asleep at the time only became aware that they were on the sea rather than on the helideck when their feet were getting wet. It was flat calm and the buoyancy, with which all helicopters are provided, had inflated, not only keeping the aircraft on the surface, but also the right way up. The guys on board will have then deployed the liferafts, will have got in to them, and will then have waited for rescue.

If the news reports are to be believed it took the rescue craft from the Caledonian Victory more than an hour to get to the scene, although considering the conditions, this hardly mattered. We must question whether this would have been good enough if the survivors had been in the water. Rather unkindly the Aberdeen Press and Journal had chosen the recent events relating the the Caledonian Victory, which had on one occasion hit one of the Forties Platforms, and on another occasion destroyed a number of small craft when berthing in Aberdeen.

The Canadian Sikorsky S92 crashed into the sea with some force, on March 12th, on route to the Hibernia Platform offshore Newfoundland. Apparently the pilot had identified a fault in the aircraft and was on his way back towards St Johns when the crash occurred. From the state of the wreckage it seems that it hit the sea with considerable force, and probably immediately overturned. There was only one survivor.

Both these crashes are being investigated by British and Canadian investigators respectively, and it will probably be necessary to wait until their reports are published before further comment is possible.

A BALLASTING INCIDENT

Everyone with an interest in offshore safety must have received  some information about the ballasting incident on the Safe Lancia in the Gulf of Mexico. The Safe Lancia is an accommodation semi-submersible on bareboat charter to Cotemar, a Mexican offshore service provider. Rumour has it that some engineering staff had work to do on a strainer box in one of the sea water pipes in one of the pump rooms, and that in order to carry out the work they had got a "Permit to Work". When they got to the worksite they found that their permit specified the wrong strainer box. So at this point, if this was the chain of events, to keep the explanation clear, the engineers were in a pump room, with a permit to remove the cover from a strainer, and the people in the control room would be aware that this was the case, and so would not open any valves to connect this particular strainer with the sea.

But, oh dear, the engineers found that they had a permit to open up a strainer which was not the one which they actually wanted to work on. What to do? Go back to the control room and get the permit changed , or just get on with the job and hope for the best. It seems that they took the latter course, and then in the middle of the job went for a tea break. Those in charge of the ballasting system were of course un-aware that the wrong strainer was open, and so inadvertently connected it with the sea. The pump room filled up, and one could only say that the rig began to sink. This process was only stopped when the Captain got to the bridge and shut the watertight doors. The resulting pictures seem to have been circulated world wide, and if the explanation above is true, it would be a salutary lesson for everyone about the benefits of the permit system.

GOODBYE KARMSUND

It has become evident that the first casualties in the change of world order for the shipping industry are likely to be the shipyards, and one assumes that the yards in China which have ships on order, but which have yet to be constructed, will not now be built, probably much to the relief of the ship-owners who have ships on order with them. Closer to home a number of Norwegian yards are apparently in difficulties and Karmsund has filed for bankruptcy even though they have four ships under construction.

The press releases from the company have blamed "cost over-runs" and an inability to obtain further finance. Two of the ships were VS490s being built for Solstad, one presumes sister ships to the Normand Ferking. Solstad has pulled out, even though the ships are partially built, and have in their press releases indicated that they are going to attempt to recover the money they have so far spent. Solstad have three construction ships, one of them already hired and one platform ship on order so their compared with others their approach has been conservative, so it is really a sign of the times that the loss of these two vessels can be seen as an advantage.

AUVs

During the month, in preparation for this feature, when I see a news item that interests me I usually make a few notes in my diary, because my memory is extremely unreliable. And it looks like  there was an interesting story about an AUV towards the end of February, and that the AUV was owned by Fugro. Further than that I can't say, because my notes were not sufficiently explicit  to prompt my memory, but never-the-less AUVs in general are interesting objects, in  that they can be launched and will carry out a pre-programmed task, usually surveying the seabed at greater depth than is possible with conventional ROVs, and then return to the surface for recovery by the mother craft. Apparently Kongsberg sell AUVs capable of operating at water depths of 4500 metres. Fugro now operate three AUVs and the Norwegian Navy own at least one which is to be used later this year to attempt to locate Amundsen's aircraft, lost in the Barents Sea in the 1920s. While the technoctrats struggle to put together a robot which will operate on land, perhaps the first fully autonomous mechanoid will actually be a fish.

THE RISKS OF GOING ASHORE

During my life as a seafarer I went ashore in many countries of the world, in the company of others and sometimes by myself. I spent hours walking the narrow streets of old Kowloon in the 1960s ducking under the dried fish and washing strung across the streets. As an apprentice I remember drinking with soldiers from the French Foreign Legion in Marseilles and entertaining them with my schoolboy French. In the Dominican Republic a small group of us explored the port of La Romana, which involved us struggling through the jungle to find a suitable watering hole, on the day after the agent's office had been burnt down, together with our incoming mail. But I was never once threatened by anyone.

Bearing this in mind, it was particularly distressing to learn that some Hampshire teenagers have just gone on trial for being part of a gang which attacked two Indian seamen at Fawley in 2007. They were rescued by a passing motorist and taken back to the port, but one of them later died. Readers of this site will know that I have catalogued many acts of injustice against innocent seafarers, so it is particularly painful to record this act, against a couple of guys whose just went ashore for a drink. It is to be hoped that nothing like it ever happens again anywhere in the UK.

 Victor Gibson. March 2009.

FOR INDEX OF NEWS AND VIEWS CLICK HERE
 

NEWSLETTERS

December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
 April 2009
 March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
Feb 2008
Jan 2008
Dec 2007
Nov 2007
Oct 2007
 June 2007
 May 2007
 April 2007
 March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
June 2005
April 2005
Feb 2005
Jan 2005
Nov 2004
Oct 2004
Sept 2004
August 2004

July 2004

May 2004
April 2004
March 2004
February 2004
January 2004
November 2003
October 2003
September 2003
August 2003
July 2003
 
June 2003
May 2003
April 2003
March 2003
February 2003
 
January 2003
December 2002
November 2002 
July/Aug 2002
June 2002
May 2002
April 2002
March 2002
February 2002
January 2002
December 2001
November 2001
October 2001
September 2001
July 2001
May 2001
March 2001
February 2001
January 2001
October 2000
September 2000
August 2000