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Having made the offer of a free gift of my novel "RigMoves" in the December news and views, I was disappointed when only four people took up the offer. There were and are no strings attached. There is no requirement to provide banking details or passwords, and the email addresses necessarily used to ask for the book to be sent will not be used for anything at all.

So does this mean that only a few people are attracted by the book, despite its slightly nautical associations, or is it more likely that not many people read news and views? On the plus side one or two people have chosen to pay for the book, which incidentally only costs 5.75 including P&P.

So now, in January 2012 there are still six copies of RigMoves available free. My wife has pronounced it "well written", even though she is not a science fiction fan, and actually not a fan of my written work. She generally enjoys more cerebral stuff, and let's face it, most of what I write is pretty lightweight and is mostly intended to provide a bit of entertainment.

So if you would like a copy just email me at  sales@shipsandoil.com - quoting the reference NV1211, with your address.

As of 18th January down to two free offers. But I'm told it's worth 5.75!!


Those of us who like to follow the movements of what are usually North European mobile units are aware that the now famous Ocean Guardian which has had such terrific success for Rockhopper is due to leave the Falkland Islands and return to the North Sea in March. It's a long trip and one wonders what sort of negotiations have been carried out by both Diamond and the interested party who has hired the rig. For instance, is the new client going to pay for the relocation of the unit from the other end of the world, particularly when another  Earl and Wright 700 series (The Sedco 712) is currently cold stacked in the Cromarty Firth? Of course many operators are loath to take on rigs that have been cold stacked. It is a real pain to get them going because machinery does not like being left idle and new crews take time to get used to the rig, and the work to be done. Of course the tanker business has traditionally got over this problem by operating at a small loss rather than laying up their ships, but rig owners are reluctant to do this in case of a "train wreck". I used to wonder what they hell they meant by this before the Deepwater Horizon accident.

Meanwhile as one rig is preparing to depart Falklands waters another is arriving. The Ocean Rig rig, Leiv Eiriksson left the Arctic at the beginning of December and set off for the Falklands where it is due to drill a couple of wells for Borders and Southern. The offshore press has also reported that the rig will be supported by the Sartor standby vessel Ocean Prince and the PSVs Toisa Sonata and Toisa Intrepid. Of course the Leiv Eiriksson is a DP rig and therefore does not need any anchor-handlers to put it on location.


                                 The Toisa Intrepid                          The Ocean Prince


Sadly yet another jack-up has sunk under tow. On 18th December in the Sea of Okhotsk the Kolskaya began to take on water and sank in adverse weather. Only 14 of the 67 people who were on board were saved. The rig was owned by the Russian company Arktikmor Neftegaz Razvedka (AMNGR) and was built in 1985 at Rauma Repola in Helsinki. The company owns another jack-up, a drill ship, a diving ship and four AHTS one of which is the Aldoma.

There is currently limited information available in English about what happened, but at the very least the weather got up unexpectedly, the rig started to take on water and unexpectedly took on a list and then sank. It appeared that to start with the  crew assembled in two groups and waited expectantly for helicopters to evacuate them. Then they were told that there would be no helicopters, but did not have time to get in the lifeboats before the rig heeled over and dumped them all in the water. An investigation is apparently taking place.

This is just the latest of a long list of jack-up losses, and if one looks through the building list for Le Tourneau you can see that about 40% of all the rigs built by the company have sunk. Usually this things have very little freeboard when under tow, and so it does not take really rough weather for waves to start to mount the deck. Then, unless all the stuff on deck has been really well secured , containers will start to move about and knock the tops off ventilators. At times the seas will prise the hatch covers off the preload tanks and they will start to fill up with water. After that it is just a matter of time. Because of these problems it used to be accepted practice for lifeboats to be removed from the davits and secured on deck - what! I hear you say. Yes it's true. Also it is recommended that the number of crew on board be minimised during moves, usually to the number which can be fitted into one helicopter. However, this gives everyone problems and anyway if all the crew are kept on board they can be doing maintenance while the rig is on passage.

I doubt that we will ever know the results of the investigation - or that there will be any lessons learnt.


There have recently been a couple of accidents to fishing vessels in Antarctic waters. First a Russian ship, the Sparta, with more than 30 people on board was holed by an iceberg on 16th December, and more recently a South Korean fishing vessel, the Jung Woo 2, caught fire and sank with the loss of three lives and a number of injuries due to burns.

The Russian ship was saved from sinking after a New Zealand aircraft dropped two pumps on separate occasions to help the ship regain its stability. Subsequently a South Korean research ship forced its way through to the Russian ship and it was reported that they had managed to install a cement box over the hole. Later it made its way to New Zealand for more permanent repairs.

The Jung Woo 2 was in the Ross Sea when it caught fire, and was assisted by two other Korean vessels in the area, and later by the US research ship Nathaniel B Palmer. The injured men were evacuated to the McMurdo Station Antarctic base and later airlifted to New Zealand for treatment.

It sounds pretty busy down there all things considered,  but it appears from one of the news items that the reason for the fishing vessels being there is the Toothfish, which is interesting in itself. This fish, also known as the Chilean Sea Bass can live to an age of 50 years and does not reach maturity until it is nine years old. Its blood contains antifreeze and it can survive in water depths of 5000 feet. It is apparently a luxury seafood, and hence the presence of the fishing vessels in the Southern Ocean.


The well known Seattle shipbrokers Marcon International recently reported the sale of the pusher tug Noydena. It was sold by Tidewater Barge Lines Inc and purchased by JT Marine Inc of Vancouver. Nothing unusual about that then, you might think. Marcon sell loads of vessels, and publish a very informative newsletter, information from which I used in compiling my book "The History of the Supply Ship".

But while Marcon don't claim that this is the oldest vessel they have sold, the Noydena was actually built in 1932. It has been called the "Jenny Barber", the "Chief", the "Arrow No 4" and from 1962 has been known as Noydena - so fifty years with the same name then. It is now to be called "Stacy T".

In October 1969 the tug sank when the barge it was towing capsized and the upperworks were demolished, but it was rebuilt and continued in service. It has also been re-engined a couple of times and is now powered by two Cat D398s. In any search for the oldest working ships in the world I would put forward the Yapura, which is one of two gunboats built in UK for the Peruvian navy to operate on Lake Titicaca in 1862. It now operates as a medical ship, servicing villages round the lake. Its sister ship, the Yavari has been refurbished and can be visited at Puno.

Vic Gibson. January 2012.



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