Archive for the ‘North sea’ Tag
A few months ago my wife and I decided to have a drive down to the coast and walk along the white cliffs of Dover, We grabbed the dog,camera and a jacket and off we went. About an hour later we parked in a spot and once we were booted up and dog on a lead off we went, 10 mins later and after talking to another dog walker we found we were at the wrong place and could not get to the cliffs this way. Boots off, dog back in the car and 1 mile later we were at the correct place. Boots back on dog on lead and again we set off.
This is the starting point, above the port of Dover.
Dover is the world’s busiest passenger port, with 16 million travellers, 2.1 million lorries, 2.8 million cars and motorcycles and 86,000 coaches passing through it each year.
Once you turn your back on the port and walk a few hundred yards, this is the view.
You can now walk for as long as you like, with the next point of interest being the South Foreland Lighthouse and then down into St Margarets Bay, Kingsdown, Walmer and Deal, we were meeting friends in Deal for lunch so after a couple of hours walk we were back in the car. We decided to drive to Deal along the coast road and as we went through St Margaret’s at Cliffe, Jeanette spotted a neat looking house for sale, I carried on driving thinking nothing of it, we ended up down at the bay and realised we could not drive to Deal this way and had to go back up the hill, on doing this I said we’ll go back and check out the house, this was it.
It’s an old fire station and was built in 1970 in St Margaret’s and was one of the first fire stations in Kent to alert the crew by Pocket Alerter instead of the traditional siren. Kent Fire Brigade was rebranded Kent Fire & Rescue Service on 1 October 2003. The station closed on 1 April 2012 along with nine other fire stations in Kent due to restructuring by Kent Fire & Rescue Service.
Anyway to cut a long story short, we put an offer in,(accepted) and we picked up the keys last Friday, it’s our new holiday home.
I found a couple of old photos on the net.
And before you ask, No there is not a pole inside, only the flag pole outside.
For those who would like to follow the adventures of my Brother and his wife as they cruise around the world please check out his travel blog here
In my last post I said it was another successful rig move, and it was. But it wasn’t all plain sailing.
After the removal of all seabed fastenings and having one AHV connected to the tow bridle, the Loke Viking and Brage Viking departed for Aberdeen, we were left with the tow vessel to do the, ah towing, and the Odin Viking, it was our ‘just in case boat’. Odin would stay with us all the way to Norway, we were pleased about this as we were heading into some pretty bad weather. Sam and I are not really needed while we are under tow but its nice to keep an eye on things and we are doing just that when at 2000 on the dot there was this very loud twang and the rig shudders, we both look at each other just as the radio comes to life, it’s the tow vessel with the news you don’t want to hear. “the tow wire has just snapped”.
We immediately take a fix of our position and then our position is plotted onto a chart, ok we are about 10 miles from the coast and we are drifting at 3 to 4 knots an hour toward land, not good. We have about three and a half hours to get under control. Onboard there are things called rocket lines, we had six of them, the Odin Viking was called in as close as possible, now its a force 9 to 10 outside,(thats 54 mile an hour winds and 7-10m waves) pitch black and raining and these guys have to fire a rocket line at what looks like a very small target bobbing up and down and rocking side to side, out of the six lines two failed to go off and the other four missed there target, so now the Odin has a go, after all he is aiming at a bigger target, most miss. The last one, the one i’m looking at out the window makes contact, Sam and I and another bloke rush outside and grab the line, we coil it up and pass it on to the deck crew, they attach a buoy and stronger line to it and the Odin pulls it over, well thats how it should of worked, unfortunately the line breaks and we are no closer to safety, but closer to land. While all this was going on the Norwegian Coast Guard has been called and a rescue helicopter is scrabbled and on route, but that is still an hour out.
The next option was to drop an anchor on the seabed to slow our drift, now this isn’t as easy as it sounds, the seabed of the North Sea is criss crossed with pipelines and cables and other assets and we were only 3 miles from a major gas pipeline, but the decision was taken and it was given the go ahead, in this sort of weather and as the rig was at transit draft (high in the water) we could not use the cranes, so out with the gas axe, (a pennant is connected to the anchor and rig and this is what had to be cut) once cut the anchor winch was released and the anchor fell to the seabed, everybody was watching the screen for the telltale sign the anchor was making a difference, slowly the heading started to change and the speed drop, we slowed to 1.5 knots, that gave us 2 hours before we reached the pipeline.
By now 15 lucky or unlucky people had been picked for the first rescue chopper, one of us had to go and after some discussion Sam opted for the first chopper, I was going with the ‘better the devil you know’ option. I don’t like getting on a helicopter in nice sunny weather, never mine in a storm. After a manly shake of the hand and pat on the back off Sam went to get suited up in his survival gear, 30 mins later the chopper arrived on location, it had a go at landing but that wasn’t going to happen, so a guy comes down on a winch, he informs the 15 that they will be going up two by two on the winch into the Sea king, we watched all this on the TV monitor and thats when I knew I had made the right decision.
Once the coast guard rescue operation had finished a plan was hatched to let out around a 1000 meters of wire from the winch to the anchor we were dragging along the seabed and the Odin Viking would use a J hook connected to his work wire and try and grab the anchor wire, sounds impossible? No, on the third attempt the Odin Viking successfully hooked the wire and carefully winched it and eventually the anchor onto its deck, there was another 30 minutes or so of holding our breath until all was made secure, the look on everyones faces when that radio call came was priceless. We were back under control with a couple of hours to spare, just another day in the office.
Have to say well done to all involved, all the people on the rig were very professional, worked well together and stayed calm, The Norwegian Coast Guard were as professional as would be expected, and the crew of the Odin Viking, what can I say, the best.
Remember theses guys were working on deck like this, on that night, in that storm. Hats off to them.
I haven’t worked with the Viking boats for a while and to make up for it we had three of them on my last rig move.
The Brage Viking here picking up 4 buoys, these were used to hold the Rigs anchor wire up above assets on the seabed, such as gas or oil pipelines.
This one is the Loke Viking, my Nephew works on here but wasn’t working on this shift, he was chilling in NZ, lucky sod.
Last but defiantly not least is the Odin Viking, here I have zoomed in on the 40 YEARS OF EXCELLENCE painted on the bulkhead, these guys don’t stay in this business for that amount of time if they are ‘ok’ or ‘mediocre’ they have to be the best, and a couple of days after I took this photo this boat showed us why they are the best.
Lives saved and environmental disaster avoided thanks to the Odin Viking, more in Fridays post.
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.
After a very long rig move starting in Norway and ending in Invergordon with cruising around the North Sea in between, I’ve finally managed to get in front on my mac and post, I’m having a bit of bloggers block at the moment, of course I’m still snapping away but because of my restrictions I can’t post any of them, unless of course I work again with the Viking ships.
Another great company Transocean Aberdeen has given me the permission to post about them as long as I get the ok from head office, but as yet I haven’t had a reply from them.
Anyway back to Norway, a country that is stunning in so many ways, after my last post through a taxi window I thought I would do better this time, sailing out through the Fjords I was sure I would get some decent shots, instead we got fog, nothing but damp think fog, and when it did finally clear it was the middle of the night, the next morning it was clear blue sky but nothing to see but sea.
So this was all I could manage.
When I get back from a Rig move, I normally say how well it went and how hard I worked 😉 but on this occasion I can’t do either, it was one of those, ‘quick get out there as soon as you can jobs’ which isn’t uncommon in this line of work. For some of us only a couple of hours notice and we were on our way, the three of us met up at Heathrow terminal five and after some breakfast we were on a plane to Bergen in Norway. An hour long taxi ride through tunnels and over a bridge we arrived at the Rig, once dressed in full PPE we climbed the 87 steps up the leg, luckily our bags were craned up, once we got our breath back and were assigned our cabins we went to mob our equipment to find out it was all ready to go, all we did was turn it on and do all our checks, what a result!
The time for the move to start came and went several times in the next week until we were told it wasn’t going to happen and we could all go home, a bit disappointed but if you are going to spend a week chilling on a Rig, you can’t beat Norway. I even managed to get a few photos out of the window of the taxi on the way back to the airport.
Have a great weekend.
I have two bits of great news, the first is I’ve had another photo published in the ‘2014 Supplement to OE in partnership with NCE Subsea‘ magazine, it’s this photo.
The other great news is Viking Supply Ships have given me permission to publish on my blog, photos of their vessels, and what great vessels they are, take this one for example, this is the Balder Viking, it’s class DNV 1A1 ICE-10 ICEBREAKER with a 202 tonne bollard pull, yeah an icebreaker, that is so cool. Not only does the paint job make them stand out so does their professionalism, from the Master down they work like a well oiled machine, watching the deck crew work from above is like watching ants, and each ant knows exactly what they are suppose to do and when they are to do it, it can be a dangerous place on the deck of an AHV but safety always comes first.
Here the Balder Viking is circling an iceberg getting ready to tow it out of harms way, the vessel I was on was not an icebreaker and boy was I glad the Balder was around.
This is the Magne Viking, it is 85m in length with a 225 tonne bollard pull, it’s 11 year newer than the Balder, again great crew all round with safety top priority.
Thanks again to Viking Supply Ships.
Hope you all had a great weekend, sorry I haven’t posted in a while, I’ve sort of lost the enthusiasm of late, I still try and get out and shoot but it’s not things you want to see, the whole idea of starting this blog was to show you a side of the offshore industry you would not normally get to see, and that was always the positive side.
So now you are stuck with some of my travel shots instead, this was a cold, wet, miserable evening in Lerwick, (the capital and main port of the Shetland Islands), but even so, still a really nice place to visit.
A nice walk around the small fishing harbour, until I was drenched through.
Next posts will be from the Caribbean, yeah I know, but someone has to do it.
A few more shots of the Scottish coast, it’s the first sight of land for most north sea workers after weeks at sea and although I can only speak for myself it’s always great to see, whether its like these shots or completely covered in snow it’s always a welcome sight.
My thoughts go out to the people of Glasgow after the police helicopter crash on Friday which sadly killed 9.
Another industrial night scene for you, (well dusk anyway) this one is in Amsterdam, the vessel at the bottom of photo is the Sirius, a Greenpeace ship, just chilling out until they go and do their thing.
I like the way it’s very industrial with the cranes and jack-up, a container ship sailing out to open sea and the lone wind turbine as if to say, “Hey look we are Green”.