My Work

Rig Move, How & Why.

The AHV's work wire running down the deck. I took this shot while we were just standing by, if we had been working I would not be allowed on the back deck.

First posted Jan 2013, updated just now.

It’s been a long time since I’ve done a rig move and as i’m sort of re-lauching my blog I thought I’d share some details about how and why we move these things, Why? well that’s easy, drill more holes! Get more Oil/Gas. Actually it’s not just that, a lot of rig moves will be to work on and repair sub sea assets, more about that if I ever find out more about that.

This particularly move was a re-entry, meaning we were putting the rig back on a location that had been drilled/worked on before. Sounds easy? Sort of, That is if you get it on the correct location, it’s easy to tell once you send a ROV down because you will see the assets on the sea bed, Tolerance on this sort of move is about 1 meter, on the other hand if it’s an open location, (meaning nothing on the sea bed) tolerance is around 5-10 meters.

For those of you who don’t know, a Semi-submersible (half above water, half below) drilling rig is held in position by 8 or 12 large anchors, around 12-15 tons, these are spread out around the rig evenly, So after the normal safety talks and meetings it’s time to start, we normally use 2 or 3 AHV’s (Anchor Handling Vessels, Big Boats) These vessels all have Nav systems onboard, basically a laptop where they can see the rig, the anchor positions and themselves and the other AHV’s all live, if they move in the water they move on the screen.

For the first part of the move the AHV will come in close to the rig and we will past down the PCP (Permanent Chasing Pennant), This is a collar permanently attached to the anchor chain and a 150 meter cable with a socket in the end, once passed down to the AHV it is attached to the their work wire.

Sedco 704 PCP

Here you can see a PCP wire cable running down the leg and into the water, when it appears again, it’s the short bit of chain and then the collar.

The AHV’s work wire running down the deck. I took this shot while we were just standing by, if we had been working I would not be allowed on the back deck.


Once attached, the AHV will proceed out to the anchor following a line on the nav screen.

Now another thing we had to do on this rig move was De-ballast before any anchors were recovered, why I hear you ask? Either you asked that question or were so bored you have already gone onto the next blog, but i’ll tell you anyway.

So what happens is, the anchor is lifted off the sea bed, brought up to the stern roller of the AHV, checked out and then the rigs large winches will haul in the anchor chain and store it in the chain lockers, but what do we do with the anchor then? we need to put it somewhere, so we rack it on these things.

Trans Rather

Just under the fairleads (the wheels with the anchor chains going through) is the cowcatcher, (not sure if thats the real name for them) this is where the anchors are racked, they hook under the CC and the winch pulls tight and they don’t move. Now  some of you will see the problem here, I’ll show you another photo of the rig we just moved at transit draft, meaning it’s de-ballast.

Stena Spey

Now you see the problem, if we don’t de-ballast, the fairleads and the cow catchers are under water and we can’t see them to rack the anchors. You can see here how the rig floats in the water when it’s at working draft by the marks on the legs, this is now at transit draft, up on the pontoons ready for towing.

Now to get the rig up to transit draft is just a matter of pumping out all the water and up she comes, now you are waiting for me to say, Ah but it’s not as easy as that, and no it is really that easy. Oh but there is one sticky bit, the whole process of de-ballasting can take up to 12 hours and during a 3-4 hour period when the cross braces are coming out of the water is the critical time, during this time the rig is very unstable, no helicopters can land and no cranes can work.

Once all the anchors are racked and a boat is on the tow bridle we can start the move, here is a racked anchor. You can see one racked and the other chain where that anchor has been removed.


It’s as simple as that, all in a days work, or 10.

Any questions please ask away, leave a comment below.

28 comments on “Rig Move, How & Why.

  1. Your photos make this actually really interesting, haha. Not something most of us will ever encounter so always cool to see how others live/work.


  2. I did try to follow that, thank you. I think all this business of strange goings on at sea is easier to understand when you see it happening, but most of us won’t ever get the opportunity to experience it first hand. This post reminds me yet again, as so many of your posts do, just how amazing it is that all of this happens at all. I wonder what the chaps who were around during the industrial revolution would make of it.


  3. Rich McPeek

    Wow! Terrific post and photos Mark!


  4. Very cool post and photos Mark. I love the perspective of the first image. That rig is massive.


  5. Thanks for the detailed explanation and great photos, Mark.

    Man, I need to be doing that and not desk jockeying…… 🙂


  6. Wow, that sounds complicated, not simple at all! The pictures are just marvelous!


  7. Thats some cool shots man, amazing


  8. Ufffffff…. La Segunda FotografĂ­a Me Encanta, Muy Buenas…


  9. Thanks a lot! Interesting and insightful, and just love the photos.


  10. mark i have done some rig moves….i have some uncertainty with few bits……ur post and picture explain it to it most…ur words even make my life easy..
    thanks mate…c u soon


  11. WOW – ’bout all I can say.


  12. Tom Jervis

    A very good explanation of the process Mark and some excellent photography throughout your site.


  13. Brilliant. Amazing insight. Thanks for sharing. I have a question if I may, how do you deal with the issue of rust out in the oceans?


  14. Fantastic, impressive shots !!!
    If your company is prohibiting them, they are F@CKING pr blind.


  15. That is really interesting! It is something I would never know about. Thank you!


Leave a comment.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: