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03 Aug - Working at height!

Date:  Sunday 03rd August 2003.
Position @ 1200 (UTC): Gullfaks Oilfield, Offshore Norway.
Next destination:  Bergen, Norway.
ETD:   Tuesday, 5th August 2003, 08.00 hours local time.
Distance to go:   80.0 km
Total Distance Sailed:  177.0 nm

Current weather:  Cloudy, fine and clear.
Wind:  South Sou'Westerly, Force 6
Barometric pressure:  1017.8 mb.
Sea state:.   Moderate with occasional White Horses
Air temperature:  16.9°C.
Sea temperature: 15.0°C.

No Ship's Position reports are available during our stay in the N.Sea since we cease doing Met.observations.
Map to be sourced as soon as possible.

This week, the RRS Ernest Shackleton has been continuing a programme of work on the Gullfaks Oil Fields in the Norwegian Sector, and has had 7 days of varied weather from flat calm to bordering on Gale Force 8, from brilliantly blue skies to minimal visibility in thick fog and mist.

We are due to return to port briefly on Tuesday for some equipment and personnel changes before returning to Gullfaks for another week to complete the current work schedule.

Meanwhile, the Itineraries for the RRS Ernest Shackleton and the RRS James Clark Ross have already been published and we are all looking forward to a very full and varied programme of events down in Antarctica this next season. 

Wavey-Davey's Weekly Whit-spot.

Davey says - 'I'm still on nights, but you can't keep a good man down' !!

Yes, this week sees a return to Davey in 'fine style'.  While still unable to bother us on dayshift on the Bridge, I was amazed to see Davey come up after breakfast one morning to proffer - not one - but a whole barrage of Davey Jokes ready for the webpage.  So for those of you who have missed his inane ramblings, here are some of those offerings from the man himself :-

Wavey-Davey went fly fishing when he was on leave.
He caught a 10 lbs Blue Bottle !!!!...

He also visited the House of Horror's Wax Works Museum.
The staff asked him to keep moving right along, as they were Stock-taking !

and my favourite...

He also visited the Orkney Islands in the far North this leave.
A stranger stopped and asked him 'is that the Moon or the Sun in that very cloudy, bleak sky ???'
Davey said 'I don't know'... I don't come from around here !!!

Thank you Davey...  ... for staying on the NIGHT SHIFT !!!


A recent survey found that about 80 percent of all Lufthansa Air Stewardesses have an innate fear of flying !  True.
However, it shows that despite the anxiety, these people are still employed in jobs that go against their natural inclinations !
Likewise, the Radio Officer of the RRS Ernest Shackleton admitted to absolutely hating to work aloft at great heights.  What a whimp ?
However this week found the intrepid R/O going where only the seagulls normally go !
image here Click on Images to get Height. image here
A deck-view of the Funnel tops.  A view of the Funnel tops looking back down. !
image here Click on Images to See Fear. image here
And despite Safety Harnesses, Two-way Communications and all the checks required by a Permit To Work Aloft,... I'm still trembling with fear !!
Strange though it may seem, there are many a R/Off who work aloft fixing Aerials, Radar Scanners and Satellite equipment whilst all the time wishing to be firmly back at ground level.  Here we see Stevie B going aloft to check the Funnel Top for a forthcoming V-Sat installation, and up the Cross-trees to replace a Navigation
Lamp.  Thank goodness for calm seas and light winds !
Author : A would-be Steeple Jack !

The Permit to Work System Explained.

The Permit to Work System is a pain.  The Permit to Work is required throughout industry (especially in the Offshore and Marine World), in order to carry out some of the simplest of tasks.  The Permit to Work paperwork oftentimes takes longer to arrange than it takes to do the job itself.  We are all aware of the Permit to Work System onboard.  We are all aware of what a paperchase it can be.  And yet, we are also aware that the Permit to Work System is necessary and is there to protect us and keep us all SAFE.

As outlined in the Code of Safe Working Practices (COSWOP),  a permit is raised before any job can be undertaken.   The System operated onboard the RRS Ernest Shackleton, very much resembles other systems in operation throughout the world of industry.  We have different varieties of Permit, and they are the Hotwork Permit, the Working Aloft or Overboard Permit, the Electrical/Mechanical Permit, Working in Enclosed Spaces Permit, and even a Permit for other eventualities.  As you can see, this is a versatile system. Our BAS Permits are all contained on the one form with different sections to fill in for the different type of task to be undertaken, but other Operators may have different forms and even different-coloured forms for the various tasks to be performed.

The idea of the Permit is to ensure that all safeguards are taken before the job is started, that everyone is aware of the job in progress and also when the work is completed.  It is as much for the protection of other individuals as for the individual doing the job.  For example, a painter would not be allowed to paint a bulkhead which has a welder working behind it, on the other side.  This could be an explosive situation for both parties involved.  Therefore, the Permit to Work System is a system of control.

The Permit on our vessel is split into 4 parts.  Workers must complete each section in full.  The nature of the work to be conducted along with details of who is involved, and how long the job is expected to take.  The next section deals with the risks involved and the precautions taken to minimize those risks.  Next is the 'authorization' of the permit by a Senior Officer or Watchkeeper.  And finally there is a section to 'close out' the permit to say that the work has/has not  been completed and whether normal operations can recommence.  It sounds like a lot of work, but it is there to ensure that nothing is overlooked.  Like the checklist of a 747 aeroplane, the Permit establishes that everything is ready to start work and see it through to a successful conclusion.

Though not intentional, the Permit to Work also gives an amount of 'Accountability' should anything go amiss.  No accidents should occur, but if they do, it is either because something was missed out in the preparation of the Permit, or that the conditions of the Permit were not followed to the letter.   But the Permit to Work ensures that everyone knows what to do, when to do it, and also how to do it safely.

Onboard the ship in the North Sea, we issue Permits to Work on a daily basis, and when we are down South during the Antarctic Season, BAS continue to operate a Permit to Work System on the Ships and the Bases.


While our ROV (Remote Operated Vehicle) is on or near the seabed with it's camera pointing down and forward, we see an amazing selection and diversity of marine life flashed onto our screen on the DP (Dynamic Positioning) Console.  None more strange than the very 'striking' Monk Fish, or 'Angler Fish'.

image here Click on Image to Enlarge.image here
Appropriately, all the anglers have a 'fishing rod' (illicium) on their heads, which is dangled (like a fishing rod) just above mouth.  At the end of this protrusion is the 'bait' (esca), which is a fleshy flap, and is sometimes much elaborated.
The Angler pictured above is of the family 'Lophius Piscatorious'. It is a large well-concealed predator, due to it's very effective camouflage.  It waits on the sea-bed for fish and bigger invertebrates to swim by.  The touching of the esca causes a 'snapping' reflex, which has sometimes provided the angler fish with larger prey such as a brass tea tray, or ROV !!!.
With the head removed, Angler tails are a valuable fish product (termed 'Monk fish').  The head is broad and flattened, the mouth very wide and semicircular and the head and body outline is edged with small skin processes.  It is Brown to Greenish-brown in colour, with a mottled darker upper, and white underbelly.  It is bottom-living, from the regions of the inshore shelf to the upper slopes off the coast, in about 500 meters.  You can see the distribution of the Angler Fish on the graphic above.  The Anglers  breed around  March-June each year, and live to be colossal in size weighing up to as much as half a ton !  (Murdo Nicolson fact!).

Forthcoming events: Complete the current work schedule and return to Bergen to demobilize and re-mobilize for the next cruise with a new Client in a new area.

Contributors this week :  Thanks to Wavey Davey for getting out of bed long enough to note down some jokes. Acknowledgment also to information gained from the 'Collins Pocket Guide' of Fish of Britain and Europe.

Diary 4 will be written on 10th August and for publication on 11th August 2003

S tevie B