home   Picture of the Day     ship information   articles and features     news and views   publications   webcam 

Locations of visitors to this page








TThis is the Skua, once the Oil Harrier photographed in Capetown in January 2010 by one Ian Shiffman, and borrowed from the South African Ports and Ships Maritime News..



I was informed by a number of sources that the venerable Oil Harrier, then the Skua has gone to the breakers. I was mate of this vessel when it was brand new in 1976, and looking back it was useless, even though in this photo it looks quite the part.

It was the first OIL ship to be provided with controllable pitch propellers which avoided the almost unendurable delay when one wanted to go from ahead to astern, but apart from that it was extremely difficult to work because of the small size of the work drums. Our baptism on this brand new craft was to go out to lay anchors for some Sedco rig on the location of the Magnus Field. The thing was provided with chain chasers, the latest thing at the time, and we all struggled with them, mainly tending to bring back the anchor to the rig after laying it. We on the Harrier had the additional problem of having to connect up the wire from the second drum half way through the run, or disconnect when going the other way. Unusually the ship was provided with storage reels for wire underdeck, but similarly to the main work drums they could not store much wire, and it was difficult to get the leads right.

At one point we were weathered off and while dodging took a wave straight through one of the bridge windows, leaving us with nothing but the steering (Fortunately). We ran before the weather off the Northernmost of the North Sea charts, while fixing the broken window using some blankets, a profiled engine room floor plate and some wood out of the dry store. Once we’d fixed it we went back to work. All the same I was sorry to see it go.


I have just returned from holiday in India where it was being reported that an Indian tanker with 140,000 tonnes of Iraq¡ oil on board had been detained by the Iranian revolutionary guard, and forced to berth in Bandar Abbas. The Iranians claim that they had detected pollution problems, but the Indian press think that it is something to do with the fact that an Iranian ship has been detained in Mumbai for two years. Is it then acceptable for one regime with a problem to capture a ship owned by another, in retaliation for some problem or other? The ship held in India is there due to a financial problem, actually nothing to do with that country, and the Indians have allowed crew changes to take place. One assumes that it has a writ nailed to the mast. But what of the Desh Shanti, the Indian ship? More on this story later.


In January 1993 the tanker Braer left Mongstad loaded with 84,000 tonnes of Norwegian crude, bound for Quebec. The ship headed out into the teeth of southerly gale and made slow progress towards the Atlantic. During the 4th January the officers noticed that some pipes which were stowed on the afterdeck had broken free and were hammering back and forth across the deck as the ship rolled. The captain was informed but he decided that nothing should be done until the weather improved. Later in the day the boiler which generated the steam for heating the heavy fuel used by the main engine failed, resulting in a decision to put the main engine on diesel. Early on 5th the main engine stopped. The fuel had been found to be contaminated, and the engineers had, for hours, been trying to clear the diesel settling and service tanks of water. The engine problem turned into an emergency as the ship drifted towards the southern tip of the Shetland Islands, and at 1119 the ship grounded at Garths Ness. The water was found to have entered the fuel tanks through vents damaged by the loose pipes on the afterdeck.

On 11th November 2006 the 74,000 dwt tanker FR8 Venture shipped two large waves over the bow, which resulted in the deaths of two ABs and serious injuries to one ordinary seaman. The ship had been engaged in ship to ship transfers in Scapa Flow and, on completion of the work, headed out into the Pentland Firth while the crew were still securing the deck. The event was investigated by the UK Marine Accident Investigation Branch which not surprisingly determined that the deck should have been secured before the ship left sheltered waters. The owners subsequently modified their Operations Manual to ensure that the decks of their tankers would be secured or unsecured in such a manner that the crew would be, as far as possible, protected.

The captain of the FR8 Venture is now aware that he should not have left sheltered waters before securing the deck and has probably never let anything like that happen to him again, and that the masters of other vessels of the same company have taken some notice of the change to the Operations Manual. However, one would think that the ability to deal with heavy weather would be one of the skills necessary to command a ship. After all, it is something seafarers have to deal with throughout their working lives, and if shipmasters do not have the skills to safeguard their crew and to minimise the possibility of damage to their vessels, is survival only due to luck?

It is likely that the approach taken to adverse weather differs between those in command of small ships, and those in command of large ones. Small ships will not survive adverse weather unless they are kept watertight and weathertight, and this knowledge is a considerable incentive for the captains and the crews. Large ships, and most tankers are large, some of them very large, may be relying on their shear size to see them through.

The FR8 Venture and the Braer were included here to illustrate the fact that in both cases a specific approach to adverse weather would have prevented the accidents. It is pretty obvious that if the captain of the FR8 Venture had considered the possibility of waves climbing over the bow of the ship, he would not have left shelter while the crew were still securing the anchors. The MAIB also suggested that possibly there would still have been scope for him to turn away from the weather until the work was completed. One must assume that he thought that his ship was sufficiently large for it to be unaffected by the five metre seas running outside in the Pentland Firth. The terrible environmental effect of the grounding and break-up of the Braer at Garths Ness could have been prevented simply by ensuring that the steel sections on the afterdeck had been properly secured. The report into the incident also suggests that they could possibly have been re-secured if the vessel had been hove too on a heading which would have allowed the crew to gain access to the area. Not to have taken this action, in the words of the investigators, “suggests a fundamental lack of basic seamanship”

And this is probably the point. One could look upon adverse weather as an act of god, visited on the ship as it goes about its lawful business, ploughing a furrow through the ocean between the port of departure and the destination, in which case the only thing to do is to press on at best speed. Or else the occasional storms which beset any ship on passage could be looked on in the same way as sandbanks or islands, or port approaches. These things require positive action such as alterations of course or reductions in speed. And here it has to be faced. The captain will just have to fill in the form, to let the charterers know why the date and time of his arrival is going to be different from that estimated at the time of departure.
In the words of SOLAS Regulation 10-1.

The master shall not be constrained by shipowner, charterer or any other person from taking any decision which, in the professional judgement of the master, is necessary for safe navigation, in particular in severe weather and in heavy seas.’

This written for Safety at Seas International in 2008.


This is a photo of a few odd ships on hire to Petrobras, courtesy of Jan Plug.

I have been in correspond-ence with a deck officer working on a ship hired to them who told me that they have a rule that all ships working for that company must be on DP if within the 500 metre zone of any of their offshore installations. Surely not all these ships are fitted with DP!

This might mean therefore that all ships fitted with DP must be on DP if within the 500 metre zone. My correspondent was really complaining that this rule does not offer much scope for training ‘on the sticks’, as we used to have it.

Of course if the ship moved outside the 500 metre zone then the DP system might not have time to register trends in the environmental conditions, and hence there would be problems when closed up to the installation.

But if the DP operators on the bridge do not have the necessary skill to drive the ship should the DP fail there must be an increased risk of collision. On at least one occasion where the DP has failed the operator has switched the system to joystick, and this secondary system has taken immediate action to restore the heading resulting in the stern of the ship whacking into one of the legs of the rig.

When considering such problems never forget that old Petrobras maxim, ‘No situation is so bad that it can’t get worse’.


The former Seaforth Crusader.

The Ramco Crusader sank the other day off Brazil with no loss of life. It was in its way a historic ship. There follows an excerpt from ‘The History of the Supply Ship’.
Probably within days of the arrival on the scene of the first of the Maersk R class the Norwegian designers were sharpening their pencils to see what they could do with a larger hull and four big engines. Ulsteins drew the UT708 and the Maritime Engineering developed the ME303. Seaforth Maritime who might always have been the most innovative of the British companies commissioned UT708s from Norway and ME303s from Korea, and while the former entered service almost seamlessly the Korean built ships, arrived with something of a fanfare, and rumours of building problems and difficulties with the equipment echoed round Aberdeen.

One thing that everyone understood as soon as they saw the new ships was that the ME303 was extremely large, almost a different type of ship from its forbears. The 14,000 bhp was not that different from that available to the last of the Maersk Rs and the winch was made up of one tow drum and one workdrum, both of moderate size. But the accommodation seemed to be vast, and the bridge with its sofas, sinks, tea making spaces and toilets took the watch-keeping areas to a whole new level of luxury. Visitors looked down from the bridge onto the after deck and had to strain their eyes to see what was going on.


This newsletter expresses the views of the author Victor Gibson about marine events which are considered to be worthy of interest. It is meant to be a five minute read. Sources of information include:

International Tug and OSV Magazine
The Tugs, Towing and Offshore Newsletter.
The Nautilus Telegraph
The Nautical institute Magazine Seaways
The BBC Home Page
The MAIB Website
World Maritime News

The Ships and Oil website contains comprehensive information about many offshore vessels and approaching 10,000 images.

People have continued to send pictures of the day for which I am very grateful. The photos brighten the days of our hundreds of visitors as they sit at their desks – I have noticed that our numbers are considerably reduced at the weekends.

However, this being summer not much work has been done on the detail of the website, but I expect that full services will be resumed in September when the holidays are over. That being said I have received some great photos recently so please keep sending them guys. They will all be published in time.

Recent Pictures of the Day include:

Haewene Brim
World Diamond


THE HISTORY OF THE SUPPLY SHIP £37.50 inc P&P anywhere
SUPPLY SHIP OPERATIONS £27.50 inc P&P anywhere
RIGMOVES £5.75 inc P&P anywhere.

Buy all three books for the bargain price of £52.5

Vic Gibson. June 2013.

To view earlier News and Views Click Here.

If you would like to receive News and Views as a PDF - with photos - email me.




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