With being away I missed
altogether the tragic story of the Demas Victory which sank outside the port
of Doha with the loss of thirty lives. Although designated in the press as a
standby vessel, this thirty year old craft was apparently going to be
involved in some offshore cleaning activities, and the majority of those who
have lost their lives were working for a power cleaning contractor. They
were mainly Indians and Nepalese.
The story goes that the
captain had requested permission to return to port due to rough weather, but
due to the conditions it was deemed to be unsafe for him to negotiate the
channel, and the ship was instructed to go to anchor. Shortly after the
request had been made the ship turned over and sank.
If you look at the records
of supply ship losses you will find that there have been numerous capsizes
in the Arabian Gulf, none of them explained. However, having worked out
there and seen ships loaded to the point that there was no longer any sign
of the Loadline, itself usually only about a foot below the level of the
main deck, the chances are that the ship suffered from deck edge immersion,
which itself might have been sufficient to result in a negative GM, but if
not, the chances are that there was something open at main deck level. After
all, where were these contractors housed? There are two possibilities one
that they were in a portacabin on the deck, or the other that they were in
an underdeck space converted into a dormitory. In the latter case how would
the space have been ventilated?
Is it not time some-one
started finding out the answers to these questions? But is the flag state
(St Vincent and the Grenadines) up to the task?
Meanwhile, elsewhere in
the Arabian Gulf a 40 metre maintenance vessel with 30 people aboard which
was hired to install a riser on a platform off Qatar, in the words of "Tugs
Towing and Offshore Newsletter" approached the platform from the wrong side,
which resulted in the vessel being holed in the engine room and sinking
alongside the platform. Everyone got off onto the platform, but it was shut
down indefinitely. Once more one has to ask a question, in this case "How
can a ship approach a platform from the wrong side?" unless they have no
idea what they are doing.
I have returned briefly to
my desk from a visit to Cuba, before leaving again for Aberdeen, and
struggle to find something to say about the maritime aspects of the country.
In Havana I saw distant container ships and what appeared to be a Russian
fish factory ship under repair and in Cienfuegos my hotel overlooked a bay
in which was anchored a small coaster. In Baracoa at the eastern end of the
island there was a wreck of some sort of ocean going vessel (See picture of
the day), and that was more or less it.
Probably most noteworthy
was the yacht Granma on which Fidel Castro mounted his unsuccessful 1956
expedition, and which is now preserved in a glass case at the Museum of the
Revolution. They probably still wish they had called it something else
before leaving Mexico, but at the time it probably did not seem too
important. Imagine if it had been called "Revolutionary Spirit" or "Hero of
96" oR some such, but it remains named after the grandmother of the original
In the building which
houses all the bit and pieces which make up the record of the revolution is
the navigation equipment which which they found their way across the Gulf of
Mexico. Centrally placed in the display case is a HUSUN sextant - with the
telescope screwed in the wrong way round. I tried to find some-one to tell!
I was scanning the pages
of the Offshore Support Journal when I noticed that Marcon, the Seattle
based shipbrokers had negotiated the sale of the AHTS Isla Coronado,
originally built for Petromar as the Petromar Norseman. The name rang a
bell, and yes indeed it had been the Pike in 1994 when I was its master
briefly, running out of Tanajib in Saudi Arabia.
It was my only
acquaintance with the ubiquitous Halter Marine 180 footers, and found it to
be a wonderfully simple and reliable ship ideal for the task which it
undertook out there. I could go on, but time is running out, so apologies
for the abbreviated news for this everything will be more or less back to
normal in August.
And my thanks to the
yachtsman in Banff who had kind words to say about the site to my friend George,
who was pre-occupied at the time mending his boat, so did not have much time