Sep 25 - The Double Week Bumper Issue
Date: Sunday 23rd September 2007
Position @ 1200 Local (GMT): 50°48.5 North, 001°06.1 West. In Refit at Portsmouth.
Next destination: Immingham, UK to load.
ETA: Monday 28th October 2007, to be confirmed.
Distance to go: 315.8 nmiles.
Distance Travelled since Immingham this Antarctic Season. : 315.8 nmiles.
Current weather: Overcast, Windy but Dry and Clear.
Sea State: Puddles. No Swell.
Wind : Southerly, 11 Knots.
Barometric pressure: 10017.0 Hpa
Air temperature: +19.0°C
Sea temperature: +17.0°C ... anybody spot the 'deliberate mistake' ???
Up to date position information is available courtesy of ‘sailwx/info’ taken from our Metrological Observations..
THE DOUBLE WEEK BUMPER ISSUE
It is a little tardy in it's arrival, but nevertheless, the Webdiary has finally arrived. But unlike the North Sea Period where there has been little enough to report, we have since gone into the refit period and items to report are coming thick and fast. I hardly know where to begin. But like all good stories, we'll start at the beginning, so if you're sitting comfortably ?.....
ANOTHER SUCCESSFUL NORTH SEA SEASON
The North Sea Charter for us ended on Thursday 13th September. That was as much time as British Antarctic could extend to our charterers to do the scope of work in the North Sea. We worked right up until the very last minute when we had to recall the ROV's to their TMS's (Tether Management Systems, or 'cages') and then retrieve them to deck. Once on deck and fastened for the transit, and all our references (bits over the side,...) were also recovered, the course was set at 210 degrees and the vessel headed directly to the Humber port of Immingham.
Friday the 14th was given over to the 'demobilization' of the North Sea Spread, and Saturday 15th was the date that the ship was to be handed back over to British Antarctic Survey in the condition she started the season back in May.
BUT WE WEREN'T IN IMMINGHAM YET
Having set off from the Valhall field and starting to stow all the North Sea equipment and break-down the ROV installations in preparation for our arrival in Port, we also started to removed the Helideck Lights which adorn the sides of the Helideck. 24 'fairy-lights' complete with Green coloured globes were dismantled for safe-keeping in the Funnel space, since in the Antarctic we do not operate Helicopters, and therefore they are not a requirement. We certainly wouldn't be 'landing another helicopter' until the start of the North Sea Charter again next year. ... or so we thought.
We didn't exactly 'land' a helicopter, but on the way back to the UK, we got a call on Marine Channel 16 from the RAF Coast Guard Rescue Helicopter. We are called upon at times to assist in Rescue exercises, and the last time I remember being involved in the Coast Guard Seaking operations was off the Falkland Islands. But this time, it was somewhere off the Yorkshire coast when the Captain was requested for his assistance in a training exercise for the Rescue Flight of the RAF.
The object of today's lesson was to land a couple of Personnel onto the vacant helideck of the Shackleton. It is an exercise we have seen done before, but is always impressive. Once the Seaking had edged close to our stern, down came the guys on the winch cable and landing on the helideck, unassisted.
What was unusual about this visit, was that the Winchman and his friend took the opportunity to unhook and walk up to the bridge to introduce themselves to the Master and have a chat. Apparently our military friends had just returned from a tour of duty in the Falklands and had also seen us down there during our last Antarctic Season.... Small World. And here we were on the other side of the globe, and we meet again, under strange circumstances.
And just as quickly as they appeared, our friends said farewell and disappeared from whence they had come !
The RRS Ernest Shackleton, embarked the Humber Pilots off Spurn Head as usual and headed on up the river to come into the Immingham Dock around 10.00am. Finally we were fast alongside the Henderson Quay by 11.00am and the demobilization commenced in earnest.
We had not been lazy however. Lots of cables and equipment had already been dismantled on the journey back to port leaving the majority of work alongside to the Crane. Heavy lifts were continued late into the night and through the early hours as bit by bit the crowded Shackleton deck was returned to it's empty glory and room made for the future positioning of the Tula and Humber Semi-Rigid Inflatable Boats.
By the handover time of 1600 hours on the Saturday afternoon (15th September), the decks were deplete of equipment and only required a little grinding and painting. Very little was left to show there had ever been 3 busy ROV remote submarines living on our main deck for the last 4 months.
IMMINGHAM - THE CENTRE OF THE UNIVERSE...
'' Immingham is Twin-towned with Calcutta,.. only Calcutta are too embarrassed to admit it ''
'' There is nothing wrong with Immingham, that a small thermo-nuclear device wouldn't rectify ''...
... we've all heard the disdainful comments about North Lincolnshire's Deep-Water Channel Port that we affectionately call ' Ming Ming '...
However, at the end of a busy North Sea Season, when the hoards had left the vessel after the handover, and there were only the remaining 20 crewmembers left in relative solitude alongside, then Immingham took on a very restful and peaceful atmosphere. I even managed to catch sun-up on the morning of Sunday 16th - which was the day of our departure to Portsmouth. The slanting beams of light glinting playfully as they bounced off the heaps of garbage on the scrap metal mountains just opposite the ship.
For the disdainful and derogatory of you out there, I say ' Michael, beauty is in the eye of the beholder ' !
THE FLEET'S IN TOWN
The Fleet. The whole Fleet.
British Antarctic Survey can only boast a fleet of two ships, but when the RRS James Clark Ross came through the Immingham Dock gate on the morning of Sunday 16th, that meant that the entire fleet was in port together. James Clark Ross was in Port after a very lengthy refit in Portsmouth, to load up for the forthcoming Antarctic Season. She will be departing for the Southern Hemisphere next week, ahead of the Shackleton, but it was delightful to see the two ships come together - a circumstance that is becoming less and less frequent these days. For those who had the inclination, visits were arranged between the two ships and I myself got across to meet my countre-part. Not often do I get to meet Michael (Gloistein), even though we oftentimes speak on the phone or the MF/HF Radio Transmitters.
But JCR didn't arrive until nearly lunchtime on the Sunday and ES departed by teatime that evening, so the two vessels were only in port together for a few hours. It was a good re-union.
Although the morning weather promised a very lovely day, the wind got up and the clouds moved in and by the time the Shackleton was ready to leave Port, we all expected a very bumpy transit around to the South Coast.
Surprisingly, it wasn't. Yes, it was windy, yes it was dark, yes it rained. But as we left Port and headed out once more to sea, the ship behaved and we had a very smooth passage around the east coast of the UK. Having sailed late on Sunday evening, we didn't make Portsmouth until Tuesday Morning by which time the weather was sunny and pleasant once again. What a welcome to our refit port !
Click on all the Sunny Images to Enlarge.
And finally for this week, we were not tardy on the journey south and took advantage of our day at sea and the lack of North Sea Shifts to have everyone up and in attendance for the Weekly Fire and Lifeboat Drills. This week we threw ourselves into a very involved exercise involving the Dummy, 'George'. Actually, it was George that was thrown into the exercise... more exactly, thrown down a ladder in the lower hold to simulate an accident in an enclosed space. But how to extract George ? That is where the training comes into play ...
3rd Officer Jo and 4th Engineer James don the funny hats !
... but haven't they seen the TV ??? What ever happened to 'Give him room'. ' Give him air ' !???
And after the excitement of Safety Drills at sea and Pilotage into a busy Naval Dockyard, we tied up for two days alongside a wet berth awaiting the opportunity to go into Lock D which was pumped out on Thursday 20th and set the Shackleton on the Blocks.
Forthcoming Events: Continue in Refit with a full scope of work from the very bottom of the vessel to the very top.
Contributions This Week : Thanks to the Visit from the RAF Seaking, and her crew for the surprise visit.
North Sea Diary No.2 should be produced on Sunday 30th September - refit permitting. To be Published on Monday 01st Oct.