Last month, while on another successful rig move we had the pleasure of watching some very heavy lifts going on, now when I say pleasure, I mean in the geeky sort of way, watching a crane lift something is not everyones height of entertainment, but for me it’s cool, and even cooler when you think about this being done at sea, most of us have seen a crane on the high street getting ready to do a lift, the first thing the crane does after parking up and the driver having 3 bacon sandwiches and 4 cups of tea is to put out the stabilises, those things in each corner that slide out a meter or so and press down on the ground to level and steady the crane. The thing is you can’t do this at sea, you have to use ballast and one great thing to use as ballast is water.
This is the Saipem 7000 just after completing 4 very complex heavy lifts, one lift being 11,100 tons, thats 500 tons under the world record (which was done by the same vessel). To put that into perspective thats 4080 female Indian elephants. Now to get back to this ballast thing, the Saipem 7000 was fitted with two ballast systems: A conventional pumped system which could transfer up to 24,000 tonnes of water per hour using 4 pumps and a free flooding system. The free flooding system used 2 m diameter valves to open certain compartments to the sea thus trimming or heeling the vessel. This allows the vessel to lift cargoes from barges much faster than if just the crane hoists are used.
This was the second time I have seen a heavy lift vessel, funny enough the first time was the rig move just before this one when I saw the Thialf, this is the largest crane vessel in the world.