SUMMARIES OF MAJOR ACCIDENT
(In event order)
The 17th International Tug and Salvage
The President of the International Salvage
Union, speaking at this event discussed the now difficult subject of ports
of refuge and substandard ships. This is not quite an offshore subject but
no seafarer can really allow to pass an opportunity to support anyone
protesting at the illogical approach being taken by some states and some
ports in relation to ports of refuge.
The Erica for instance was refused entry
into a French port on the basis that it was a substandard ship. Of course
the result was a much greater disaster than the potential limited
hydrocarbon release into some medium sized harbour. And other nations with
vulnerable coastlines have demanded the departure of damaged ships from
their seas. In fact in the last few days Lloyds List reported that the
salvage payment to the salvors of the Castor, who had towed the stricken
tanker round the Mediterranean for several weeks, had been drastically
All this seems to neglect the
possible loss of life, not to the bird population of the ocean, but to the
crews of the ships, who are now mostly from third world countries and have
no voice of their own. Lets all have a little less hypocrisy and a little
more honesty. Substandard and poorly managed ships are carrying their
cargoes for some-one. And the cost of the carriage contributes to the
eventual value of the product - mostly at the pumps for we motorists.
it is necessary for these ships to dock in European ports to discharge
their cargoes there would seem to be a fairly obvious solution, a few more
flag state inspections, and even if this means appointing more inspectors
the cost should be less than the cost of clearing up the mess. And the
aforementioned seafarers might stay alive.
On a Lighter Note
We reported last month that the the
Stirling Clyde had been rebadged in the Harrisons Clyde livery. No one
told me that the red electric eels passing through the H for Harrison were
actually blue ones.
Almost in response the owners of the
Stirling Spey pulled it in and rebadged it with the Seacor insignia. But
did not repaint the ship in Seacor colours. Apparently this will only be
done when the former Stirling fleet goes to foreign parts.
There are now three of the Vik-Sandvik
designs with blue hulls each with a different badge on the funnel,
because the Stirling Forth still has the old Stirling sign in place.
BP Cuts its Crew Again
Apparently in response to the government's
increase in tax BP has announced that it will cut its contractor staff by
800. This is according to the news reports to streamline the business.
It is very difficult to write about the
reductions in numbers by the oil companies and consequently all the
contracting companies without getting a bit cynical. It seems to be a sort
of Peter Principle, and some of you may remember that the Peter Principle is
that "Everyone will be promoted to their level of incompetence,"
and that as a result the management of almost all companies, according to L.
Peter who coined the principle, is essentially incompetent. This is a sort
of testing routine which cannot be reversed.
It is according to some related the the
"Red Queen Principle," who said famously in Alice through the
Looking Glass - "Here you have to run very hard to stay in the same
One might therefore coin a new principle
relating to the number of employees working for a company which keeps
downsizing. Logically either the amount of business being done by the
Company must be reduced or the amount of business may stay the same, the
work being carried out by a fewer number of people. The third
possibility that the amount of business being carried out will increase
while at the same time the workforce is reduced seems so unlikely that it
might as well be discounted.
The problem is that it will not be until
there are insufficient people employed that it will become apparent that the
job is not being done any more. Worse, everybody will be running very hard
to stay in the same place, and therefore will be unable to detect the
News from SBS
I always think of SBS as being the Royal Navy
Special Boat Service, the naval equivalent of the SAS, but in Aberdeen it is
Shetland Base Services which last year took over the old Amoco base on the
North side of Aberdeen harbour and purchased a UT705 which the renamed the
SBS Cirrus. Our webcam incidentally points straight at this base across the
The objective of the expansion which as one
would expect, was based on the company's successful business in Shetland,
was to create a complete service from door to rig, all provided by the same
company, and at the time it seemed like quite a good idea. For a while the
SBS Cirrus lay alongside their quay, and the smart SBS trucks dashed around
the town picking up cargo.
We never actually found out whether the cargo
was actually going on the ship, and then any possibility that this might be
so was dispelled when the SBS Cirrus was hired into Denmark on a long term
charter. Later SBS ordered a platform ship from Norway, and more
recently it has been mooted in a number of places that they have
Now for the news, SBS Base services have
detached from SBS shipping, the two parts of the company going in their
separate ways. Who knows what this will do for logistics services,
particularly since there are currently only two players in Aberdeen, Asco
and Seaforth, but at the least there is another player. And for those of us
who would like to see British supply boats sailing the seas, here is another
contender for the crown.
Viking and BUE Connect
Just before the turn of the month these two
companies announced that they were joining forces. It is possibly a
defensive move to prevent either of them being taken over by some-one else.
Both of these companies have developed over
the last few years, Viking by collecting the vessels run by Cam Shipping and
BUE by buying the Tidewater fleet, which itself was previously Hornbeck, and
possibly something else before that.
It is sometimes difficult to see what these
amalgamations achieve, but in this case, both fleets employ British
personnel and therefore their additional strength is welcome - of course as
long as they do not use it to be nasty to their chaps. The flagship of the
new fleet may the Viking Provider - our Photo of the Month.
The recent collision between the Marr trawler
Marbella and the Rough platform has heightened the interest in this hazard,
particularly in the offshore industry. In the marine industry there is a
weary acceptance that ships will continue to run into each other and into
fixed objects, and it appears that risk assessment as promoted by the ISM
Code has done little to improve this situation.
When it comes to collisions between ships and
platforms or drilling rigs, there is little or nothing that the thing being
hit can do, and this is what creates the interest. In general the offshore
industry relies on the standby vessel to firstly identify vessels on
collision courses, secondly to warn the platform or rig, and thirdly to get
out there and by some means get the approaching ship to change course.
The investigation into this collision will
focus on the activities of the standby vessel. As part of our work MMASS
is involved in the assessment of major hazards and when it comes to
the prevention or at least mitigation of collisions members of the team
doing the assessment, who are usually rig staff, propose the most
One technique frequently suggested is that
the standby vessel should get out there and sort on nudge the errant vessel
out of the way. Our advice to ship masters would be not to try this, and to
the staff on rigs and platforms not to rely on this as a prevention
technique. Another is that everyone should get into the boats and motor away
before the impact - NOT!
We think Exorcet missiles or depth charges
might offer realistic solutions.
We were the only marine consultancy
exhibiting at the All Energy Conference held at the Aberdeen Exhibition and
Conference Centre at the end of May, and we thought that we might have
something to offer to the people with those current and tidal devices. We
still think so but our possible clients did not really seem to be convinced.
It seems to be one of those things that
everyone thinks they can deal with the marine part of any project, and they
don't find out until too late that they can't. Surely some-one might have
got a hint when 8000 tonnes of articulated wave generator sank off the
Orkneys a couple of years ago.
However we did get some interest from people
who are about to erect windmills off the coast, since some of their problems
relating to the marine environment have already been identified, and we are
thinking about them!
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