THE MAERSK SALT 200s
try to avoid including press releases for newbuildings. After all, they seem
to just go on and on, to the point that one feels that there must be many
more ships out than there is employment for. And some companies seem to go
to it with such enthusiasm that they must intend to put others out of
business altogether. One such company is Maersk Supply, who have many ships
under the Danish and the British flags, and up to now although their ships
have been extremely well found and very powerful and of very high
specification, they have looked entirely conventional. With the advantage,
for the guys on the forecastle, that they can stand back and throw their
heaving lines towards the quayside when tying up.
However, in 2014 they are facing the future with a new anchor-handler design
which tips its cap in the direction of the wave piercing bow, and the
accommodation for more than 50 people in single cabins. Although the full
details are yet to be announced, doubtless the winch will be capable of
storing many thousands of metres of wire or fibre rope for deep water work,
and at a guess will probably be provided with a Triplex MDH, where MDH
stands for Multi Deck Handler, since Maersk have always been enthusiasts for
the Triplex shark’s jaw. It is noted that the six ships on order have a
moderate 23000 bhp available giving 230 tons bollard pull, which is as much
as one would need for virtually all mooring activities, but maybe not with
enough for pulling seabed ploughs.
SALT are a new company based in Norway, but they have already designed a
contender for ship of the year in 2014, with the Juanita, a large platform
ship which is billed as being provided with a new propulsion system using
“permanent magnet technology”. And despite the availability of diagrams of
this system on the internet it did not make any sense to me.
A BLACK DAY FOR SEAFARERS
But fortunately not quite as black a day as was
reported in October. 27th. On November 11th the Korean courts found the
former captain of the Sewol guilty of gross negligence rather than homicide
and sentenced him to 36 years in jail. The Chief Engineer was sentenced to
30 years for the specific charge of not helping two injured crew members,
and the press reported that the 13 remaining crew members were sentenced to
terms in prison of between five and 20 years. However the prosecution said
that they were going to appeal against the “not guilty” verdicts on the
homicide charges, so it is not over yet. The anger and distress of the
family members of those who died is understandable, and it brings home to us
that regardless of the reasons for a marine accident, the management of the
resulting emergency is what is going to be important to the general public.
It would not have mattered to anyone what had happened to the ship if
everyone had been rescued. And it is probably that even those who initiated
the modifications to the ferry without due consideration for safety would
not have been censured in any way. But even without the threat of
prosecution I am sure that all serving shipmasters, and if it comes to that
their crews, hope that they are sufficiently well trained, courageous and
quick thinking to be able to do the right thing in an emergency.
The Odyssea Courage
and lifeboat back in Fourchon. (First on gCaptain)
early morning of Saturday 15th November the platform supply vessel Odyssea
Courage hammered into the stern of the Helix well intervention
semi-submersible Q4000, in the Gulf of Mexico. The ship then retired hurt to
Port Fouchon, and was photographed with the remains of a lifeboat on the
bow, and the rig was allowed to continue working, with its three remaining
lifeboats still available.
This is not the first time a collision between a ship and a rig has been
featured in this newsletter, and it probably won’t be the last. In fact
despite the increasing availability of dynamic positioning, supposedly
removing the human factor from the task of operating a ship close to an
offshore structure, things don’t seem to be getting any better.
You scribe has investigated these sort of collisions on behalf of clients,
has reviewed reports on them, written collision risk management manuals, and
actually been master of a ship which ran into a rig. So for those who would
like to know more here are a few words on the topic starting off with my own
My own collision occurred when I was master of a British registered
anchor-handler (so it had to be a long time ago) supporting a Pentagon rig
in the UK sector of the North Sea. Pentagons are unusual in having five
columns. From starboard aft the legs are named A to E with C being the bow
leg. Back in those days we used to tie up, first dropping an anchor and
backing in to be secured by ropes to the port and starboard quarters. On
this day I had lined the ship up with the rig and started backing up,
pulling the string which operated the ship’s whistle once, which indicated
to the mate that he should let the anchor go. As I closed up with the D leg
I pulled the string for the whistle twice, which was the signal for the mate
to stop letting out the anchor, but there was no sound, apart from that of
the anchor chain still rattling out. I went to the engine controls and
pulled them both up into the neutral position. Nothing happened. I put the
engines to full ahead, but still nothing happened and the ship hit the rig
pretty hard, stamping an outline of the welds on the port quarter into the
leg, but fortunately not making a hole. Then the engines caught and we
This was a collision due to mechanical failure, actually lack of control
air. Mechanical failure is the least likely to result in contact between a
ship and a rig, although failures of the DP (dynamic positioning) systems
and a consequent failure of the watch keeper to take the right corrective
action are the cause of some.
But it appears that the most likely causes of collision are lack of
attention on the parts of the watch keepers on ships rendezvousing with
offshore installations. Don’t they have radar? I hear you ask, and the
answer is yes of course, and in some cases the offshore installation has
radar as well.
So following the progress of a typical collision, which may or may not be
what happened to the Odyssea Courage, we can start with the ship a few miles
off, approaching the rig at transit speed with the intent of working cargo
on arrival. There may well have been an exchange of operational messages
between the watch keeper and the control room of the unit, hence the vessel
is expected. Thereafter it may be the lack of attention on the part of the
watch keeper which results in the collision. On one occasion, in the Irish
Sea, the Captain had sent the lookout down to call the crew for the day’s
work, and he himself had reduced speed and got on with a bit of paperwork.
But the reduction in speed was not enough, and looking up from the chart
table he saw the platform close ahead. He went full astern but the collision
At a more basic level it is possible that the watch keeper is the only
person in the Pilot House and so, in order to get everyone ready for work on
arrival, he goes down below and calls people, and while he’s there he pours
himself a cup of coffee, and starts chatting to others as they arrive in the
Mess Room. He has forgotten what is going on upstairs! Some people would not
believe that this could be happening, but it does, and has done on a number
Similarly when the regulations require the presence of a standby vessel,
these ships can themselves become a hazard, particularly when the watch
keeper loses concentration, falls asleep, and more commonly in today’s
world, become absorbed in a computer game. We can have a little sympathy. It
is a boring job.
In safety engineer’s jargon these are known as “visiting vessel collisions”.
This is as opposed to “passing vessel collisions”, and it might appear that
the latter would be more frequent. Yes, they have happened but there have
been very few, yet it is passing vessel collisions which most exercise the
minds of the owners and operators of offshore installations. What would the
offshore management do if they saw a ship approaching them at full speed?
Would they even see an approaching vessel? How much time would they have to
do anything? There are some answers to these questions, most of which depend
on the availability of a suitable detection system – a radar, a standby
vessel or something. But even given a warning what should the prudent OIM
(Offshore Installation Manager) do? Some advocate evacuation, but what if
the ship turns off at the last moment and sinks a lifeboat full of people?
After all these years there are still more questions than answers. However,
today there is a means by which the possibility of collision with a passing
vessel may be reduced. It is a legal requirement that all ships of more than
300 gross tons must be fitted with AIS (an Automatic Identification System),
and nothing prevents this relatively low cost system from being fitted to
offshore installations and mobile units. Passing vessels would therefore see
the objects on their various navigation systems, and could take appropriate
action to keep clear.
all of the above the best opportunity the offshore installation has to
reduce the possibility of collision is to control the operation of visiting
vessels. And once more I hear people saying “surely they do that!” Well, yes
and no. There is a tendency for those on board offshore installations to put
quite unwarranted faith in the machinery and the management of visiting
vessels. So here are a few hints. First set a safety perimeter round the
installation. The UK sector has a 500 metre perimeter by law, but it does
not have to be that. Then set up a requirement for any visiting vessel to
linger at the edge of the perimeter and check its equipment and then to
approach with caution, and make sure they know they have to do this. Try to
keep the lee side of the facility available. And don’t let work carry on in
adverse weather, even if the ship says it can.
And finally Never Let Your Visiting Vessels Head Straight for the Rig!!
THE TOR VIKING II RESCUE
The Tor Viking II on its way to
the Golden Seas (USCG Photo)
reason an event which occurred back in December 2010 has surfaced in the
media, maybe because some video concerning it has been published on YouTube.
This was the bulk carrier Golden Seas which had had a turbocharger failure,
which turned its maximum speed to about two knots. In the strong winds and
high seas it was being pushed in the direction of Atka Island, off Alaska.
At the time Shell had the Tor Viking II, one of the trio of icebreaking
anchor-handlers owned managed by Viking Supply, on hire. They released it to
go and rescue the ship, which was 400 miles away.
The video shows a lot of swinging spanners on shadow boards, as an
illustration of the stresses on the ship as it powered through heavy seas in
the direction of the casualty.
When it arrived at the Golden Seas, it apparently only took 15 minutes for
it to take it in tow, and head back towards Dutch Harbour, now at a more
This event brings home to us today the need for coastal states to be
provided with some sort of emergency towing vessels. In this case they were
lucky the Tor Viking II was on hand. Tragedy was also recently averted when
a ship broke down off the west coast of British Columbia. A Canadian Coast
Guard vessel managed to take the ship, the Simushir, in tow but its tow line
failed three times, and it was not until the arrival of the American tug
Barbara Foss, that those monitoring the emergency could breath a sigh of
relief. Let’s all think about getting Emergency Towing Vessels!
RIGS TO REEFS
A Hurricane Damaged Offshore
One of the
reasons oil rigs offshore Europe are protected by a 500 metre exclusion zone
is that otherwise fishing boats would be sailing right up to the legs,
because fish love oil related architecture. Even though they can’t get that
close to the structures above the surface they trawl alongside the undersea
pipelines, which are also favoured by our fishy friends.
Out in the
Gulf of Mexico it is accepted that the presence of the oil platforms have
created wonderful habitats for fish, in an area which was otherwise reef
free. But in recent years the earliest platforms have ceased production and
have therefore been removed, thereby removing the marine habitat.
This loss of habitat has been so severe that the various government bodies
which have replaced the MMS (Minerals Management Service) have been lobbied,
and as a result the “Rigs to Reefs” programme was initiated.
Of particular interest today is the fact that a platform which was toppled
by hurricane Ike in 2008 is scheduled for removal and a Louisiana senator
has lent weight to the campaign to allow it to stay. “…the thriving
ecosystem that has grown around it is already playing an important role,” he
However the current regulatory regime the Bureau of Safety and Environmental
Enforcement (BSEE) seems unlikely to accede to the request, suggesting it
amounts to “ocean dumping”. More on this story later!
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:
Recent Pictures of the Day iinclude:
Barbaros Hayreddin Pasa
Dockwise Vanguard (again)
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If you would prefer not to receive further news letters please email me email@example.com
Vic Gibson. October 2014.
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