22 Jul - Mission almost impossible
RRS Ernest Shackleton Diary
Position @ 1200: 57°45'North 001°48'East.
Conditions: Wind S'ly x 10 kts; Barometer 1011.0 mb rising slowly; Air Temperature 16.8° C; Sea Temperature 14.8°C; Part Cloudy, Fine and Clear, Slight seas, Low N'ly swell.
Map of survey sites (located on the Everest Platform, some miles due East of Aberdeen).
Your mission, should you chose to take it, involves getting into the 500 metre zone of an oil rig, doing a programme of surveillance, getting out without being spotted by the guard (ship) and making good your exit without incident. You may choose your own team but you must take along this man. His name is Capt. John Marshall, and he is an expert in his field.
Should you be compromised in your task, this department will of course deny any knowledge of you or your team. You will have every facility at your disposal. This message will self-destruct in 5 seconds !!!
Studying the case history, you will see that the top-secret vessel RRS Ernest Shackleton was in the vicinity of oil fields last Sunday 15 July at about 12.00 hours. Synchronise watches ! Three - Two - One - Mark.
Since that time the vessel has proceeded on Monday 16 July to the Harding Platform, the Harding STL Buoy on Tuesday 17 July, the Bruce Platform on the Wednesday 18 July, the Miller Platform on the 19 July, Aberdeen on 20/21 July and finally back out to the North Everest Platform for Sunday 22 July ! The vessel can be seen to be dodging around the field to try and give the 'agency' the slip, but we have tracked her successfully every step of the way. For in-depth location information, see the map of survey sites provided with this mission brief !
Keeping a low profile all the week, there has been nothing out of the ordinary in it's operations except a brief spell of inactivity late on Wednesday evening. This was due to inclement weather where rough Northerly seas and swell suspended the ROV operations for a period during which surveillance work was relaxed. This had to be intensified again by Thursday morning, when the Ernest Shackleton was put into 'Stealth Mode'. This is where they turned out all the lights and went 'silent running'. This was a ploy to evade radar detection and this had the agencies working overtime to locate and 'neutralise' her as a potential threat. The vessel was returned to the counter-espionage centre of the universe - Aberdeen - for a quick de-brief, before spy satellites were able to pick her up again heading out to sea and the North Everest Platform by Saturday afternoon. A slippery customer this, but a perfect subject for the mission in hand. Get in, and get out with the minimum of fuss ! Good Luck, we are counting on you !
Stealth Operations - Undercover Entry to Base. During the Stealth Mode phase, one of our agents was able to capture the Ernest Shackleton as she attempted to gain entry to the top-secret offshore base of Aberdeen during the hours of darkness. This badly exposed photograph taken with a miniature camera in the shape of ... a camera, proves conclusively that the vessel made an unscheduled entry into the port under the very noses of the Coastguard without being detected or challenged. This is one of only many such stealth missions under the cover of darkness.
This mission is not without its dangers. Please be advised that only last week on Tuesday morning, the vessel was manoeuvring from the Harding Platform to the STL Buoy about 1 nmile distant, when sharks were sighted in the cold North Sea waters. The sharks could not be identified (the names have been with-held to protect the innocent !), but they were seen to be apparently chewing on the hose that floats to the surface from the sub-surface buoy. This is the means whereby the tanker fleet can attach to the pipeline and load the product, remote from the Harding installation. There were two, possibly three sharks in total and were perhaps over 1 metre in length - although it was difficult to estimate at a distance. The micro-camera was not available to capture the scene, and the spy-satellite was in the wrong orbit !
You will be provided with the very best protection available for your mission. Along with the usual array of weaponry and most up-to-date remote 'eyeball' submarines, we can also provide you with the very latest in personal protection for all weathers. 'Q' Division has really excelled in providing this highly technical attire - and as you can see, it is very low-key. You should be able to 'blend in' whatever the situation.
Bob the Electrician blends into his surroundings on the Bridge.
Forthcoming events: Mission Almost Impossible Two - Another co-vert mission proceeding to the Forties field, possible helicopter operations and completion of this first part of the Stolts Charter Period in the North Sea.
Contributors this week: The 'secret' government agency B.A.S in collaboration with S.T.O.L.T
North Sea Diary 11 will be written on 29 July 2001 and should be published on Monday 30 July 2001.
'Special agent' SteveB