Captain of the ECO platform ship C-Retriever is suing Chevron and Edison-Chouest
for failure to “take appropriate remedial measures to protect its
employees”. This because he and the Chief Engineer were kidnapped from the
ship, offshore Nigeria. This is a convoluted tale, and is featured at length
on the pages of gCaptain. Apparently he had received death threats, and
seemed to suspect that his ship had been targeted with the collusion of some
of the onshore controllers, and despite his earlier requests for help from
the company nothing had been done. He had asked for armed guards, or a
proper citadel or anything which might keep him safe. They had advised him
to remain vigilant.
He was interviewed by a gCaptain journalist who had asked him several times
about “fuel theft”, and the Captain had finally suggested that a previous
kidnapping of the Master and Chief Engineer from another ECO vessel had
occurred because, it was rumoured, a fuel sale had gone wrong.
The Captain of the C-Retriever and the Chief Engineer were held in the
Nigerian swamps for 18 days before being released on the payment of ransom,
but interestingly, during his captivity in 2013 the question of fuel theft
had been raised, and it had been suggested that this was a common occurrence
in Nigeria. Usually for the theft to occur the whole crew would be involved,
and if anyone did not want to be, then the deal would be off. But such lack
of enthusiasm could result in kidnapping taking place.
This is all news to those of us who have only worked in the well policed
oilfields of the world, and none of the reports say how much fuel might be
involved. But we might be thinking in price per gallon. 3$ at the pumps in
America. This might give a return of about 200$ a ton. One thing we do know
is that back in the 1980s when ships in the UKCS were required to be super
economical, the Chief Engineers were often capable of hiding 100 tons or so,
to make the ship appear to burn less than it actually did.
A BLACK DAY FOR SHIPMASTERS
27th October was a black day for shipmasters,
particularly the unfortunate Captain Lee Joon-seok the former master of the
South Korean ferry Sewol which sank back in April with the loss of more than
290 lives. He and another 14 of the deck crew have been under arrest since
the event, and yesterday at the Captain’s trial, the prosecutors called for
the death penalty for the master and for life imprisonment for three other
crew members. It appears that the owners had had modifications carried out
far beyond the capabilities of the ship, this mainly to reduce the passenger
capacity and increase the its ability to carry freight. The owner of the
company which operated the ferry is still on the run, but the state is
calling the Captain a murderer because he left the ship without taking what
is seen as being the correct action to save the passengers, as the ship
heeled over and gradually capsized. Since we don’t know the full story we
are unaware of his actual failings, but most of us of mature years have
sailed with masters who were alcoholics, or idiots, or both, and it is
almost certain that they would have been found wanting in an emergency. But
this would not have been sufficient reason for finding them guilty of
SOMETHING ABOUT LIFEBOATS
A Whittaker Capsule
on a Rowan jackup.
it comes to lifeboats there is good news and bad news, but we have to face
it, mostly it is bad news, and from the point of view of numerical risk
assessments it would be an advantage not to carry any boats at all, since
there are many accidents during training and maintenance and only a few
successful evacuations using them. And as I wrote this I found that on
October 21st two crew members from the jack-up Ensco 104 had been killed
when the lifeboat in which they had been working had unexpectedly released
from the falls and fallen 150’ into the sea.
As far as the whole world is concerned the subject of lifeboats started when
the Titanic sank, and only a small percentage of the numbers on board
successfully evacuated in the limited numbers of boats. The available
literature points out that the Titanic was carrying more than the required
number of boats which at the time was determined by the ships gross
registered tonnage, and being provided with 20 boats, the ship was carrying
four more than the regulatory number. The owners had determined that they
would not carry more because such an increased number would impede the
passenger’s view from the boat deck. The existing davit system was capable
of supporting 64 boats – it is said. But we’ll move on, an uncountable
number of words have been written about the Titanic.
It became a regulatory requirement that all ships should be provided with a
boat on each side capable of embarking the whole crew. Then, the rules
changed and the quite small ships which used to carry two boats now only had
to carry a number of liferafts. And for the offshore industry there was a
distinction as to whether the objects out there were ships or not, and
therefore whether they would be subject to SOLAS requirements. This resulted
in some curious situations, which would probably never had come to light if
it were not for the related emergencies.
Typically the Trinity II, an American registered liftboat which sank in
Mexican waters in 2012, was not actually required to carry any boats, or
liferafts, its LSAs being limited to three “lifefloats” those buoyant ovals,
with netting in the middle, although it was provided with two throw-over
liferafts, which were not required by regulation. However, due to lack of
familiarity with them, the people on board allowed them to be blown away.
This probably resulting in the deaths of four of the crew. One of the
recommendations from the US Coast Guard investigation was that better
training on the use of liferafts should be initiated.
Maybe the loss of the Glomar Java Sea in 1983 with all hands in the South
China Sea will help to illustrate the confusion which reigned on the
provision of Lifesaving Appliances. Back in 1983 the SOLAS regulations
required that merchant ships be provided with 100% lifeboat capacity on each
side, for those on board, and 50% capacity, in total, of liferafts. The
drillship had two 64 man lifeboats, one on each side and three liferafts for
a total of 55 people.
Many years prior to this disaster the US Coast Guard had ruled that
drillships on location were no longer on international voyages, and
therefore were exempt from SOLAS; so they were only required to provide
lifeboat seats for 100% of the personnel on board. However the requirement
for the provision of liferafts for 50% of the total number on board
remained. This meant that when the ship was under way the maximum number of
crew would be 64, however when the ship was anchored and at work the maximum
number would increase to 110, 50% more than the liferaft capacity. Possibly
in order to justify this rather curious exemption the investigators compared
the requirements for LSAs for drillships with those for semi-submersibles,
and it was found that the provision of LSAs for the Glomar Java Sea
satisfied this requirement. In the event, it seemed that one of the
lifeboats had been swept away and the other launched with some of the crew
on board. However neither was found during the subsequent searches.
The Whittaker Capsule has a special place in the provision of lifeboats for
offshore installations, and the limitations and advantages of this type of
craft have been highlighted because of their involvement in a number of
casualties. The jack-up Ocean Express which sank under tow in 1976, in the
Gulf of Mexico, was provided with three Whittaker capsules one on the port
side and two on the starboard side. The two starboard capsules got away with
some difficulty, with all hands on board. Alarmingly one capsized during the
rescue activities and 13 men lost their lives. It was apparent from the
investigation that the training of the crew had been more or less left to
the employees of the Whittaker company who had visited the rig when in dock,
but the crew on board at the time of the casualty had not attended. This
particular investigation also highlighted the failures to carry out suitable
drills, particularly putting the boats in the water which, understandably,
those in charge of offshore installations were reluctant to do.
SOLAS requires that a fully loaded boat should be capable of maintaining a
speed of 6 knots for 24 hours. Quite a difficult thing to achieve one would
think, and as it turns out impossible for the Whittaker Capsules. These
devices could achieve 4 knots for 24 hours, and were exempted from the 6
knot requirement by the Coast Guard. The recommendations from the enquiry
suggested that personnel should be trained in a variety of aspects of the
operation of lifeboats to include towing, escape and the training of
coxswains, and clear instructions on the operation of release gear. It was
felt that there were different requirements for TEMPSC and open boats and a
distinction in the training should be made.
It appears that the Coast Guard traded off the limited speed of the boats
against the probably greater reliability in the launching process, and hence
the ability for relatively untrained crews to get away in these boats. And
it may be that this view was born out when the Rowan Gorilla 1 sank while
under tow in 1988, off the coast of Canada. The report on this incident
states that in preparation for the tow all four Whittaker capsules with
which the unit was provided were removed from the davits and relocated to
the top of the accommodation. Obviously a precaution to prevent them being
swept away in rough seas, and one which was quite common at the time. This,
however, neglected the possibility that evacuation might be required. The
rig was inspected by the Canadian Coast Guard, before departure and as a
result of their observations the two smaller, 36 man capsules were returned
to the davits. This turned out to be a fortuitous decision since the crew
later abandoned the rig using the starboard capsule in mountainous seas.
With the assistance of some Coast Guard aircraft, the tug Smit London
maintained contact with the capsule overnight, and on the following day
although the seas were still high, the master launched his FRC, manned by
the Second Mate and Second Engineer. The 26 personnel from the rig were
transferred to the tug in 3 trips. What can you say? One fantastic success
at least, and it seemed that the Coast Guard confidence in the Whittaker
Capsule was justified.
THE LOSS OF THE SEAPROBE
month I have been following the reports on the loss of the Seaprobe, which
occurred back in 2013, and over which investigations have taken place.
Fortunately for the crew they were able to evacuate in three liferafts and
were rescued by helicopters from the US Coast Guard.
This story really fits in with our discussions about the relationship
between shipmasters and the ship’s owners. The story in this case was that
the ship was on its way back to the US Gulf from Brazil, when it experienced
some problems which related to the exhaust system of the starboard engine
(probably), and needed to go into a Mexican port for repairs.
Pertinent to this is the fact that on most of the old gulf supply boats
fitted with what they used to call “North Sea Stacks”, the exhausts still
come out half way down the main deck and are led in a tunnel up the deck to
the aft end of the accommodation and then up the funnels.
So, a superintendent, visited the ship and had some of the tunnel cut away
to access the exhaust system, and since the repair was temporary chose to
leave this hole open, and had the freeing ports on the main deck welded up,
to prevent seas boarding the vessel.
I’m sure you can now see it coming, so why did the master not see the same
thing, and refuse to sail. Of course, the result was that the seas made it
over the bulwarks and were therefore trapped aboard, and made their way
though the hole in the exhaust trunking into the engine room, disabling and
sinking the ship.
GOODBYE MAERSK GABARUS
The Maersk Gabarus towing an
iceberg possibly taken by Hugh Dunlop.
Supply have recently announced that one of its more famous anchor-handlers,
the Maersk Gabarus, has been sent to the breakers. This is the vessel which
featured in a very extensively distributed offshore picture of a ship towing
an iceberg offshore Canada. It was sent to the Ships and Oil site by someone
called Hugh Dunlop, but like many iconic offshore photos a number of people
have claimed to have taken it, and it has probably won some photographic
competitions for some of them.
The ship was one of six built by Hyundai in 1982 for Husky. They were, or
still are, in a couple of cases, good looking craft 71 metres long with a
useful 10800 bhp available, giving them 125 tonnes bollard pull. They were
built at a time when it seemed like a good idea for ships to be fitted with
two quite small work drums, which limited their usefulness as deeper water
anchor handlers. They were purchased by Maersk in 1988, and they still have
one in service. There is at least one other in different ownership now.
The technique, by the way, for towing the icebergs, which is sometimes
necessary on the Grand Banks if a possible collision with an offshore
structure is detected, is for the ship to reel off a very long floating line
around the iceberg, and then pick up the end when it has got all the way
round. With both ends on the ship the ice can then be towed away.
INFORMATION ABOUT THIS NEWSLETTER AND SHIPS AND OIL LTD
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 Siberia Times
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. By the way I have been told that a number of
subscribers to the newsletter send it on to others – if you are one of the
others email me for your own copy! I have had one or two requests, but have
not always been successful in sending the newsletter. Maybe their systems
Company updates this month include:
Nordic American Offshore
N-Sea Nordane Shipping
North Sea Shipping
World Wide Supply
Recent Pictures of the Day in OctoberSeptember include:
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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
If you would prefer not to receive further news letters please email me firstname.lastname@example.org
Vic Gibson. September 2014.
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