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23 Jun - ROVing

Date:  Sunday 23 June  2002.
Position @ 1200 (UTC): 53°39.9 North, 000°11.6 East. Offshore Easington
Next destination: Port of Immingham for Stolt Company Crew-change.
ETA: Thursday 27 June 2002

Current weather:  Overcast, bright and clear
Wind:  Westerly, Force 4
Barometric pressure:  1019.8 mb and steady
Sea state: Moderate
Air temperature:  16.0°C.
Sea temperature: 14.2°C.

No Position Reports are available during our stay in the North Sea since we cease doing meteorological observations.

Map of North Sea - Click to enlargeClick on map to magnify detail.

Last Sunday, the Ernest Shackleton was on the CATS pipeline, at the same latitude as Edinburgh and staying there only until completion of the section of pipeline that we were surveying. We concluded the survey at about 1930 hours and then we turned tail and headed back down to the world of Easington, Dimlington, and the Amethyst 30" pipeline. See the map above.

The work, onboard RRS Ernest Shackleton, has largely progressed to the monotonous routine of eat, sleep, work, eat, sleep, work. There are some to whom 'eat' is more important than 'sleep'. There are some to whom 'sleep' is more important than 'work'. I don't know too many people admitting to 'work' being more important than that aforesaid other two !!! But the work continues. Primarily we have spent the week off-shore Humberside on the Amethyst and West Sole Pipelines. The ROV continues to crawl along the length of these 'highways' collecting data and recording video footage for scrutiny back on shore. To those on the bridge and in the ROV/Survey shacks, it is a repeat program of crustations, pebbles, shale, the occasional fish and of course kilometres of pipeline. Watching the TV monitors I am reminded of one continual episode of David Attenborough's Living Planet. Only this time there are no adverts to allow you to run off and make a cup of coffee and prepare TV snacks !

But we are not alone. Since arriving on location, we have been attended at all times by a fisheries liaison vessel called the Magdalene Anne. This vessel is the 'guard ship' for the fishing grounds to ensure that we are not encroaching upon fishing areas, interfering with the local fishing industry and more importantly, making sure that the fishing industry are aware of our presence and what we are attempting to do here. On board the Shackleton is Mr.Lawrence Harrod, who is our liaison officer, and spends all day conversing with local boats on the radio, to ensure that neither of us get in each other's way.

A far more important role undertaken by the Maggie Anne is to supply our galley with the very latest in fresh crabs. During our Fast Rescue Craft Launch and Recovery exercise on a balmy and beautiful Monday evening, we took the opportunity to visit the vessel, 'recover' some very fresh crabs newly-caught that day, and also capture a photograph or two for the webpage (see below and click on the images to enlarge them). We cannot, I am afraid, show you any evidence of the crabs transferred to the ship - as we've EATEN THEM !!!

The Magdalene Anne - Click to enlarge The Magdalene Anne - Click to enlarge The Magdalene Anne - Click to enlarge


Amethyst C1D Platform - Click to enlargeI woke up. I opened the curtains to my porthole, and look what faced me on a sunny summers' morning at sea !! Latterly, RRS Ernest Shackleton - having finished the 'inshore' sections of pipeline - have been working near to the other end of the line - the offshore installations. Here we see a picture of the Amethyst C1D platform and we are working within the 500 m exclusion limit that is in force around all the installations in the North Sea.

Another exclusion zone was established around the TV screen in the Red Room and Green Room on Friday morning. Woe betide anyone who passed in front of the TV during the viewing of that event of all events. Did you hear ??? Apparently a team called 'England' were playing a team called 'Brazil' in a game called 'football'. Being in the middle of the North Sea, you would think that we would escape a majority of those things that keep society functioning at home, but no. Football, News at 10, Gardening Programmes and 'Coronation Street' are all infiltrating the vessel 7 days a week ! Due to being only 30 nmile offshore, the TV signal from England is booming in and so the punters onboard are able to feast their appetites on a whole range of British TV ! For those of you who have not heard, because you were on another planet or perhaps in the middle of the Antarctic Winter.....England lost !!!

Speaking of Middle Antarctica, you should soon be able to read the reports on the Diary pages of the stations as they all report the festivities surrounding their 'Mid-winters' day down South. The ship did not forget to send a message of 'Greetings' to all the stations on their 'special day'. From now onwards, they can start counting the 'downhill section' before the return of the ships and the aeroplanes in November ! Happy Mid-Winter's to one and all!

Forthcoming events: Continue with the Pipeline survey in the Amethyst / West Sole fields, and proceed, on Thursday, to Immingham for a 12-hour visit to effect a Stolt Personnel Crew-change.

Contributors this week : Thanks to the Magdalene Anne for providing us with some rather excellent crabmeat for dinner one evening !

Diary 5 will be written on 30th June 2002 and for publication on 31st June 2002

Steve B