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Events in early December in the Mediterranean were vaguely reminiscent of Oscar Wilde's suggestion that reports of his death had been greatly exaggerated.

It was reported be Reuter that the jackup Key Singapore en route between two locations had broken adrift from the towing vessels and had sunk, and back in Aberdeen we trawled the available information services, now including some internet news sites for more facts. It was not until the following morning that we found out that the rig, far from having sunk, had never actually been detached from one of its two towing vessel in high seas, but had remained afloat.

All the crew had been evacuated by helicopter at the time of the possible emergency, but when it became evident that the rig was going to remain afloat they were taken back. Subsequently the rig was taken to a safe haven and inspected for damage, which was apparently limited. People interested in the safety aspects of marine activities, and who are aware that it is accepted good practice to minimise the crew on board jack-ups during moves, might be surprised to learn that there were 84 people on board the rig during the tow. Or again, they might not be surprised. 


Although we seldom stray away from offshore marine matters, it has not been possible for us to completely ignore the two major marine disasters which occurred over the Christmas period. Dramatically the Cypriot registered coastal tanker the Willy was driven onto the beach in front of the Cornish village of Kingsand. The Guardian reported that the crew, nine Filipinos, two Germans and a Croatian waded ashore. The villagers were evacuated because of the potential for explosion from the tanks of the ship, because it had not been gas freed.

There were no casualties, but the front page pictures were dramatic.

In contrast just before Christmas a Cypriot registered bulk carrier disappeared some-where in the region of the Azores in bad weather. 27 crew were lost. There was no report in the UK media regarding this unfortunate event..


This is an exclusive rumour. We hear that Seacor are taking a positive approach to their recent UK purchases and are going to move the management of the former Stirling Shipping from Glasgow to Aberdeen. 

What were they doing in Edinburgh in the first place you may ask?

Answer. Stirling Shipping is the offshore arm of the old British shipping company Harrison's (Clyde), and the owners of the Company are in the main Harrisons. They may even all be  Harrisons, and the Harrisons live in Glasgow. It is possible that the office in Glasgow is actually part of the Harrison's (Clyde) empire and will therefore remain open. 

However, the ships will be managed from Aberdeen which will be a change for them. Of course the worldwide Seacor operation is already making itself felt with the departure of the Stirling Sirius to replace a Seacor vessel in West Africa. And those who know about these things believe that it may remain out there - ideal for the job they say!


I have thought fairly carefully before including this item, but what the hell. 

Your scribe has the good fortune to live in what remains of the fishing village of Torry, now consisting of about three streets immediately adjacent to the Marine Laboratory and the Shell base in Torry Dock.

It used to be really quiet, but in recent months there has been more night work and as a consequence some noise from the cranes which are hydraulically operated. Sometimes we are woken by that irritating beep beep noise emitted by fork trucks going backwards. All this was acceptable, but in April 2001 we were kept awake for hours by a constant low pitched tone, which never varied from the time we first noticed it until we went to work in the morning. 

I rang up the dock to finds that it was a vacuum tanker owned by Enviroclean and it was being used to suck the water out of the tanks of a supply vessel which was being cleaning by a squad from that company. Some might find this entertaining considering the business we are in. 

After this had happened a couple more times I called the Shell PR department and was put in touch with one of their managers who is in charge of that sort of thing, and he said that they were not going to do this job, using this equipment between ten at night and six in the morning. I was pretty grateful and impressed by the positive response. 

Weeks passed and then it happened again. I called up to find that the cleaning had been taking place somewhere else in the harbour altogether. It was worse than I thought. And I was told that there was another of these vacuum tankers owned by another company - Taylors - which was a lot quieter. The Enviroclean tanker had been imported from America. What were we to expect! After all the American are not big on looking after the environment.

The next time we were kept awake all night they had made a mistake, but they had been told not to do it again. The next time they were using the Taylor's tanker which they thought was much quieter. It wasn't. Sorry they wouldn't do it again.

Meanwhile they have been doing noise assessments in the streets to see what the effect of the base working is on the environment. I wonder why they are doing that?

We have suggested that it might be better if the ships cleaned their own tanks. After all we have provided tank cleaning systems for many of them, and Toftjorg have probably provided systems for the rest. On the plus side we have not been kept awake by tank cleaners this year!