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NEWS AND VIEWS JULY 2009  

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Demas Victory from Shipspotting

 

DEMAS VICTORY

With being away I missed altogether the tragic story of the Demas Victory which sank outside the port of Doha with the loss of thirty lives. Although designated in the press as a standby vessel, this thirty year old craft was apparently going to be involved in some offshore cleaning activities, and the majority of those who have lost their lives were working for a power cleaning contractor. They were mainly Indians and Nepalese.

The story goes that the captain had requested permission to return to port due to rough weather, but due to the conditions it was deemed to be unsafe for him to negotiate the channel, and the ship was instructed to go to anchor. Shortly after the request had been made the ship turned over and sank.

If you look at the records of supply ship losses you will find that there have been numerous capsizes in the Arabian Gulf, none of them explained. However, having worked out there and seen ships loaded to the point that there was no longer any sign of the Loadline, itself usually only about a foot below the level of the main deck, the chances are that the ship suffered from deck edge immersion, which itself might have been sufficient to result in a negative GM, but if not, the chances are that there was something open at main deck level. After all, where were these contractors housed? There are two possibilities one that they were in a portacabin on the deck, or the other that they were in an underdeck space converted into a dormitory. In the latter case how would the space have been ventilated?

Is it not time some-one started finding out the answers to these questions? But is the flag state (St Vincent and the Grenadines) up to the task?

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the Arabian Gulf a 40 metre maintenance vessel with 30 people aboard which was hired to install a riser on a platform off Qatar, in the words of "Tugs Towing and Offshore Newsletter" approached the platform from the wrong side, which resulted in the vessel being holed in the engine room and sinking alongside the platform. Everyone got off onto the platform, but it was shut down indefinitely. Once more one has to ask a question, in this case "How can a ship approach a platform from the wrong side?" unless they have no idea what they are doing.

MARITIME CUBA

I have returned briefly to my desk from a visit to Cuba, before leaving again for Aberdeen, and struggle to find something to say about the maritime aspects of the country. In Havana I saw distant container ships and what appeared to be a Russian fish factory ship under repair and in Cienfuegos my hotel overlooked a bay in which was anchored a small coaster. In Baracoa at the eastern end of the island there was a wreck of some sort of ocean going vessel (See picture of the day), and that was more or less it.

Probably most noteworthy was the yacht Granma on which Fidel Castro mounted his unsuccessful 1956 expedition, and which is now preserved in a glass case at the Museum of the Revolution. They probably still wish they had called it something else before leaving Mexico, but at the time it probably did not seem too important. Imagine if it had been called "Revolutionary Spirit" or "Hero of 96" oR some such, but it remains named after the grandmother of the original owner.

In the building which houses all the bit and pieces which make up the record of the revolution is the navigation equipment which which they found their way across the Gulf of Mexico. Centrally placed in the display case is a HUSUN sextant - with the telescope screwed in the wrong way round. I tried to find some-one to tell!

PIKE

I was scanning the pages of the Offshore Support Journal when I noticed that Marcon, the Seattle based shipbrokers had negotiated the sale of the AHTS Isla Coronado, originally built for Petromar as the Petromar Norseman. The name rang a bell, and yes indeed it had been the Pike in 1994 when I was its master briefly, running out of Tanajib in Saudi Arabia. 

It was my only acquaintance with the ubiquitous Halter Marine 180 footers, and found it to be a wonderfully simple and reliable ship ideal for the task which it undertook out there. I could go on, but time is running out, so apologies for the abbreviated news for this everything will be more or less back to normal in August.

And my thanks to the yachtsman in Banff who had kind words to say about the site to my friend George, who was pre-occupied at the time mending his boat, so did not have much time to chat.

 Victor Gibson. July 2009.

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