THE LOSS OF THE OSV
Some time ago I received
an email from a visitor in South Africa suggesting that on these pages we
should commemorate the loss of the OSV Voortrekker which was a South African
anchor-handler built in 1983 in Durban. I had not heard of the ship or the
fact that it was lost in September 1993 in adverse weather off Mossell Bay
while, according to the related webpage, it was "attending to the oil rig".
The oil rig was the Actinia. Of course there are a multitude of
possibilities in the words "attending to he oil rig", and in the light of
more recent disasters I wish we knew more.
All that can be said about
it, is that back in the early days of the offshore support in the North Sea
ships occasionally sank for no apparent reason, actually causing the
Department of Transport to send out questionnaires, and if one thinks about
it carefully offshore vessels are still sinking for no apparent reason. So
sadly it is certain that the Voortrekker sank due to either a
structural/mechanical problem or because some-one made a mistake. But what
other reasons could there be? Well, the other reason is lack of knowledge,
and it only became apparent as time passed that offshore vessels tended to
dip an after corner under the water, drastically reducing the area under the
curve, the traditional manner in which stability is measured. But I think we
knew all about that by 1993.
The ship floated upside
down for two days before it sank, and amazingly during that time the guys
who had been in the engine room, the Chief Engineer, the Second Engineer and
the Motorman managed to escape, although unfortunately the motorman was
later to die of his injuries. The rest of the crew, and the ship's cat lost
their lives. It is sad that it has not been possible to carry out any sort
of investigation to find out what went wrong.
BP HAVE REPORTED
On to another sad topic. Back last Wednesday, the
8th September BP released its report into the loss of the Deepwater Horizon.
It extended to 257 paqes and had additionally 27 appendices. Then on the
15th September Tony Hayward appeared before a house of Commons select
committee who were considering whether things needed to change offshore in
order to make things safer.
Tony Hayward was
"devastated" by what had happened, he said. However, the report on the
incident was considered by one of the other players Transocean, as being
self serving. It is difficult at this point to comment in advance of the
publication of what, it is to be hoped, will have been a totally independent
investigation by the US Coastguard and the Bureau for Offshore Exploration
Management etc, or else at least have been reading all the transcripts
of all the witness statements recorded so far.
And finally it is expected
that the relief well will be completed this coming weekend and that
the cement will be pumped into the problem penetration rendering it
harmless. Should you not have had the opportunity of reading my stuff about
the Deepwater Horizon I still recommend that you read the latest, which
features the senior toolpusher's testimony. It really brings it home to you
how awful it was out there.
A friend of mine
telephoned me the other day to ask me if I had read the article in Ships and
Boat International about anchor-handling, written by some Norwegian marine
equipment manufacturer. I had to admit that I did not know that Ship and
Boat was still being published, thinking that it would have been unable
continue when I had ceased to be a freelance contributor. But the thrust of
my friend's call was that there are a number of companies making complicated
stuff for anchor-handling, replacing the men on the deck with their big
hammers and crowbars, most of which, believe me, would not be any good if
the ships were not DP2 as well. In the same vein my friend had been out on
an anchor job recently where the ship involved had been making good use of a
crane on a rail ( could this be the first ever use of a new name for this
accessory) until the weather got up a bit, at which time the crane ground to
a halt and the guys had to go back the hand tools.
All this is happening
while the industry continues to be plagued by incidents involving overside
deluges which reduce visibility of the attending ship and soak the guys on
the deck, and continues to have problems with containers and other lifts
being snagged on bits of the ship's structure. In addition, it still seems
to me to be inappropriate to move the risks from quite moderate ones to the
guys on the deck, to pretty major ones in relation to ship/rig contact.
There have been manuals written about managing collision risks. I know
because I have written one.
A BIT OF FREE ADVERTISINGI
I suppose that actually if
anyone can afford to go the the event which I am about to advertise for
nothing, probably they will be too busy to be reading this but here we go
anyway. IBC are holding an Offshore Support Vessel conference on Wednesday
24th and Thursday 25th November at the Paddington Hilton Hotel in London. I
have some affection for the event having been invited to be Chairman of it
last year, and having met a lot of really interesting and entertaining
Interestingly I note that
they are featuring an event which is new to me which might be called speed
business dating "Maximise your time at the event in this fun and effective
networking setting. Bring your business cards!" They say.
In my last "News and
Views" I pondered whether I would continue to feature vessels involved in
alternative energy work. Having received some excellent pictures of the
Resolution doing some windmill installation I have decided that I will
include them, but I'm not going to change the name "Ships and Oil, and
Windmills" just doesn't have the same ring about it.
Victor Gibson. September 2010.