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MARCH 2002 NEWSLETTER

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We Receive a Press Release

It is probable that the Marex Offshore Review is now a significant source of information for the support vessel industry and its clients, not to mention the many enthusiasts who just love these strange ships. And possibly in acknowledgement of our popularity, we have received a press release from Vik-Sandvik. Its good to receive press releases. They are a source of news which can be used by the journalist without the need for research, and they quite often contain enough words to make the creative process unnecessary.

This contrasts with our efforts to obtain information about the new Stirling vessels, the Stirling Jura and the Stirling Islay. We have called and asked if we might visit. We have called to ask for details - well to hell with the visit, we'll just work with the words, but as yet no success.

Of course it could be that these ships are already proving to be so popular that further publicity is unnecessary. One was built in Fergusons, one at BAE Systems Govan. They are Vik-Sandvik VS475s not dissimilar from the VS473. They WILL feature in these pages, regardless of the efforts of the owners.  

The Subject of the Press Release

The VS press release is about a new standby vessel, or as it says in the release "FSV" which we assume stands for Field Support Vessel designed by V-S and to be part of the emergency arrangements for the Halten/Norland area of the Norwegian Sea.

The area is under the control of Statoil, Shell and Norsk Hydro who share standby vessels. Indeed it could be that this vessel is the model from which BP might obtain a model for their proposed support craft in the Jigsaw plan.

This ship is to be 90 meters long and 18 meters wide, dwarfing all standby vessel so far constructed apart for the Forties Kiwi which was BP's first standby vessel, converted from an 18,000 ton tanker. The only thing it has in common with the Forties Kiwi is a helicopter deck, which claims the press release will "enable combined operations with the search and rescue helicopter." Well, we don't know about that, but it will allow crew changes to take place without the ship having to return to port. 

Even more surprising than the size is the intended speed of the ship which, at 20 knots must make it the fastest support vessel in the North Sea. It is also to have a special stern which will allow for the recovery of freefall lifeboats and MOB boats. Details available at present do not show the stern, but perhaps it is similar to that of the pilot boat which operates of Seattle which is apparently a sort of slide.

The ship will be manned by twelve people and will enter service in July 2003.  

 

Stirling Spica Arrives in New Colours

The Stirling Spica, formerly the UT734 Star Spica arrived during the month in Seacor colours, so this is its third colour scheme. The Stirling scheme which had the funnels painted in a sort of traditional British steamer way was less than flattering, where-as the grey hull and white upperworks and funnels with the Seacor "S" replacing the old Star Offshore star.

Of course we meant that it had arrived in Aberdeen. 

Sovereign Explorer Arrives in West Africa

The Transocean Sedco Forex semi-submersible the Sovereign Explorer has completed its voyage to West Africa. It left Invergordon at the end of January and was anchored off Malabo a couple of days ago. The UT722 Asso Ventidue has been paid off and apparently has further work in Nigeria, and then in Brazil. The parting was recorded on film and is our picture of the month for April.

We were particularly interested in this job because we acted on behalf of the warranty surveyors, auditing the ship in Aberdeen and the rig in Invergordon. It all went well we are pleased to say.

Laney Chouest

Clarksons Research Service discovered our website while searching for information about the Laney Chouest. They told us that they ship was to be delivered in September this year, but knew nothing else.

We are not exactly waiting with baited breath. The Americans are well known for their efforts to keep everything about their ships secret and the revelation that this ship is to be the most powerful support vessel ever built should be sufficient for us. That and its intended ability to be able to work in 12,000 ft. 12,000 feet is only two miles deep. The deepest oceans of the world are eight miles deep so there is a bit to go, but it is probably the ROV which has really made the difference.

Spare a Thought for the Poor Marine Journalist

We take the daily email and weekly newspaper  Energy Day. We would have preferred to have had a daily paper but were not prepared to shell out the 1.80 per day it would have cost for Lloyds List.

Energy day is related to Lloyds List and like its parent paper it has a weekly comment on support vessel dayrates. What an awful job it must be to have to cobble together the 150 words it is necessary to fill the bottom of page three. The headlines usually say something like "Dayrates fall due to lack of rig moves," or "Adverse Weather Forces Rate Rise."

The writer then has to follow with "comments"  from brokers. Of course they have little to say which might be of interest. Large numbers of ships are leaning against Blakie's Quay because no-one wants them. Bu they are almost all anchor-handlers, so as a once only piece of news they might add that the increase in power and general specification of modern anchor-handlers, brought about by the move into deeper water, has made them less viable as cargo carriers. Even if the owners compete on price they have no way of competing with the PSVs when it comes to fuel consumption.

Of course they will gradually drift off to Africa or Brazil and the rates might hold up a bit in Aberdeen. Failing that lets have some decent headlines "Owners Suicidal Again," "Operators Protesting in Wellington Road - Anchorhandler Day Rates Unjustified." Well, there are probably no stories there anyway - and almost no quotes. We'll try to get some for this column.  

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             The details of vessels have been compiled from a number of sources and are not guaranteed to be correct. All photographs remain the property of the photographer and may not be used for any commercial purpose, either in print or electronically without permission.  The articles contained on the site remain the intellectual property of the authors and must not be reproduced in part or in full without permission.