Archive for the ‘Rig’ Tag
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.
Carrying on with my ‘from the air theme’. This time as the title says its Morocco, for the first 10 minutes over land I didn’t think I would get a single shot with the cloud cover being so thick, but lucky for me as we got closer to town the cloud thinned and then disappeared altogether.
This had been my home for the last 17 days, great crew and a very successful rig move.
Making the most out of this harsh dry land. Fancy an apartment by the beach like this?
Of course if you have access to water it makes all the difference.
Even on a small scale.
Being close to a river will always help.
Or just stick to Goats and trees.
After joining the rig in Gibraltar we sailed down the coast of Morocco past Casablanca and finally finished up just below Agadir, just east of the Canary Islands where the rest of my family were sunning themselves, so close and yet so far.
Once we were close to our final location our helicopter taxi service started again, guys that you had got to know were leaving and new faces appeared on a daily basis and the rig started to get more busy.
These helicopter pilots are good but sometimes they need to brush up on the odd technique, like landing on the deck at night. Lucky for me I was allowed to take my camera out and watch, now i’m not really that much of a helicopter spotter, although I do think they are a great bit of kit and I’m still surprised they can fly, cool to watch but not that cool to fly in.
As always safety comes first and during the six landing and takeoff all helideck crew were in place and at the ready.
Its a lot closer than it looks, I had to lock my hands around the hand rail and grip my camera while the fire crew pushed me forward to stop me from blowing over with the downdraft.
It’s been a very busy week, I have my Nephew staying with me, and I have been showing him the sites of London one pub at a time, it’s very exhausting work but someone has to do it.
Back to Gibraltar.
After my walk all over and around the ‘Rock’ I hunted down the guys I was travelling with and looking forward to a long cool beverage was glad to find them near a pub, but just as I got there we had the phone call, we were to join the ship tonight and sail to the rig over night, oh well it was fun while it lasted. We left Gibraltar some time in the early hours and sailed back towards Malta meeting the rig on way, once boarding the rig our boat was swapped over with the tow boat and then that one departed for Gibraltar, towing with one boat was very slow going so by the time it was back to join the tow the following day we hadn’t moved very far. It was another couple of days before we went through the Straits of Gibraltar and ended up being very good timing as it was one of the guys 25th birthday and he had purchased 5 very nice cigars, we finished off the day chilling under the helideck smoking fine cigars and watching the sunset over the Rock.
Have a great weekend.
After Malta comes Gibraltar, well in my case it does, after we pulled all nine anchors in Malta, the rig sailed on it’s way with the help of two AHV’s. At a wind in your hair speed of around 3 knots there wasn’t much point in staying onboard, as we were not needed. After taking the ‘Malta from the Air’ photos we found ourselves in a rather nice hotel on the beach, finding the one and only shop that sold swimming shorts and buying a pair of the loudest ones we headed for the beach.
Early morning flight back to the UK, home for a week and then back to join the rig in Gibraltar.
For those who don’t know, Gibraltar is still part of the UK and on the other side of the runway (middle left) is Spain, you actually drive across the runway to get to either side, lights change to red, you stop, plane lands, lights change to green norman business resumes.
Of course you can’t go to Gibraltar without going up the rock, last time I was here my son and I walked up to the top, along the top of a crumbling wall, once at the top and the mist cleared we realised there was a cable car and a road, I didn’t make the same mistake this time, straight to the cable car, once on top you are met by one of the locals.
I did however give myself a challenge coming down, I first walked up to the Mediterranean steps and once found them decided to brave the walk down, now you may think walking down is the easy bit and for some it would be, but I’m old, unfit and have an old rugby injury, so two and a half hours later I finally made it down, it was worth the sunburn and my left knee swelling to twice the size, but next time i’ll walk up them.
Just a quick post before i’m off again, The good people at CHC Helicopters allowed me to use my camera on the flight back to stunning Malta so I took the opportunity and snapped away, it’s not easy though, trying not to get the refection of your bright yellow survival suit in the window, especially when you are my size.
Our ride to land, thanks CHC.
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.
I’m back, another successful rig move under the belt, all went to plan and nobody got hurt. We towed the rig into Limassol in Cyprus where we moored it and left it for our last time.
We then joined this boat to go and recover a couple of anchors we had to leave behind, the idea was to recover these anchors in a different way due to assets on the seabed, this operation again all went to plan.
Once all anchors were recovered we headed back to Limassol, looks like someone has been having a bit of fun with the sea break.
I’ve been asked how we go about towing icebergs, or to post about ‘Ice Age Continental Drift’ the Movie, but as I haven’t got permission to post about the movie, you are stuck with more of my iceberg stories.
So first of all, we either get asked by the rig to checkout a likely suspect they have seen on their radar, or we see one ourselves that is posing a risk to the safety of the rig. Once the ice candidate is confirmed we go in for a closer look.
Here the captain is checking out the berg to make sure it is possible to tow.
Once confirmed its go for tow the guys on deck get to work.
This is the end of the rope, we use a dyneema rope which is very strong and designed to float (right of shot) with 3 large buoys attached.
The dyneema rope with the buoys attached is dropped into the water, we then pay out this rope as we sail past the berg.
Once far enough past the berg we come back on ourselves. Here we are rounding the berg, you can see the buoys in the distance.
Now around the berg we make our way to the buoys, when close enough the guys on deck grapple them and pull them on deck.
With both ends on deck and secure we now slowly move ahead and tighten the rope around the berg, to fast and the rope may slip right off.
Let the tow begin, we will tow this miles away from the rig to a safe place and release it, sometimes bits of the berg will brake off the bottom as we tow and the berg will become top heavy and roll over, on more then one occasion after coming back from lunch I thought we had replaced on berg with another.
There are some icebergs that cannot be towed.
Ones with sharp pointy sides where the rope would just slide off.
And ones shaped like dogs!
After the last post I was asked about scale, e.g. How big is that iceberg? It’s very hard to get a scale of anything at sea and more so with icebergs as they are not manmade and come in all sorts of sizers and the birds on the last berg could of been Sparrows or Albatross for all I know.
Now thanks to our friend here we can tell this is a very small iceberg, known as a Growler, the next size after this is a Bergy Bit, then Small, Medium, Large and X-Large.
This next size is a a Medium, you have to remember 7/8 of the iceberg is under water and we are a couple of miles away from the rig.
Now this next one is big, you will have to take my world for it as there is nothing in the picture to scale it against, but to give you an idea, we were in a boat with 27,000 horse power and when the tide was against us we moved nowhere, when the tide changed and was in our favour we moved a quarter of a mile, I think we towed this berg for about 3 days.
Under tow, but not moving much.
Here is a guild to test yourself next time you are walking down the high street and see an iceberg.