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May 21 - North Sea Tiger


Date: Sunday 21st May 2006
Position @ 1200 Local (GMT): 57°29' North 001°44' West. 2.5nm outside of Peterhead Harbour.
Next destination: The Magnus Oilfield. Northern North Sea.
ETA: AM of Tuesday 22nd May 2006
Distance to go: 262.3 nmiles.
Distance Since Grimsby : 252.0 nmiles.

Current weather: Overcast, Fine and Clear.
Sea State: Calm Sea and Little Swell.
Wind : North Easterly, 06 Knots.
Barometric pressure: 996.9 mmHg
Air temperature: 7.7°C
Sea temperature: 7.8°C

Click to Enlarge.
Click to Enlarge.

Up to date position information is no longer available from ‘sailwx/info’ as we have ceased Meteorological Observations whilst in the North Sea..

For reference purposes, Click on the image to enlarge the North Sea Map courtesy of BP.
For reference purposes, Click on the image to enlarge the North Sea Map courtesy of BP.

The Shackleton has now thrown off it's Antarctic mantel to become, once again, a North Sea Tiger !

(A North Sea Tiger, Lynx and Mohawk actually, but more of that shortly).

On our helideck, we no longer sport the strange-looking 'Helicopters' pictured below that have the caterpillar tracks. With a lick of paint, the net replaced into position and a new string of Helideck lights around the perimeter, we now have a fully certified and working Helicopter deck which is ready to receive 'incoming' at any time night or day. More accurately, 'any time day or day', because we are not certified for night-time operations.

Click to enlarge our strange 'Antarctic Helicopters'.
Click to enlarge our strange 'Antarctic Helicopters'.

There is a whole volume of stringent criteria that a helicopter deck must meet in order to be certified. For example, the Yellow Globes that have lit our helideck for the past years are the subjects of a change notification and have now to be coloured Green ? All over the North Sea, ships and installations are changing the colour of those globes - but we have to keep our helicopter pilot friends happy.

Click to see the Camera's-eye view of our helideck at present.
Click to see the Camera's-eye view of our helideck at present.

But it is not only the helideck that has undergone transformation. The decks have shed their Antarctic cargo and containers for a spread of 3 ROV's (Remote Operated Vehicles). The three little submarines that we have this year are the Lynx, the Mohawk and the Tiger. (Conveniently, the contractors have placed them on the deck in 'Alphabetical order' which makes identification of these otherwise non-descript-looking items easier. The nearest to the DPO's (Dynamic Positioning Operators) on the Bridge is the Lynx. They are not much to look at, but encompass a winch with an 'umbilical' that goes to the ROV which is in a protective 'cage'. The cage is launched overboard and once at depth, the ROV can be driven out of it's protective house to go 'walkabout' around the pipelines and risers which we have this year to inspect.

Click to see the ROV spead.
Click to see the ROV spead.

And on the Monkey Island too, changes are afoot. In place of last year's Satellite installation, the Clients have mounted an even Higher satellite system, which gives them Phone, Fax and Internet connections to the outside world. It has grown higher this year in an attempt to circumvent the problems of last year when our Conning Tower managed to 'get in the way' all the time. The satellite dish needs to have a clear line of sight to the Satellite in space and has objections to big Yellow Conning towers stuck in it's way. How the newly-elevated system will perform once at sea, remains to be seen. However, the hope is that with our own satellite system aft of the conning tower, and the clients dome forward of the conning tower, we should at least keep some communications regardless of the ship's heading.

Click on the image to see the towering system.
Click on the image to see the towering system.

Before being armed with our new array of North Sea paraphernalia we had to head out to sea to conduct our North Sea DP trials or FMEA trials. FMEA stands for Failure Mode and Evaluation Analysis. This is basically our annual MOT for the North Sea. Here is a calendar of events :-

09th May - arrived back in the UK in Grimsby and started demobilisation.

15th May - embark the Global Marine representative who would take us through the trials, and head out of the Grimsby Locks.

15th May - Conduct FMEA trials off Flamborough Head, Yorkshire and work till late.

16th May - complete trials and drop off all representatives at the mouth of the Humber to return to shore by pilot boat.

16th May - set sail directly for Aberdeen and the Acergy Mobilisation for the 2006 Summer season.

17th May - Arrive Aberdeen and commence work with all those additions mentioned above.

19th May - Depart Aberdeen to commence our North Seas Season, starting at the Magnus Platform.

Wavey Davey’s Weekly Wit Spot.

Unfortunately, Davey has had to depart the vessel this week due to an unexpected bereavement in his family.

We wish Davey and his kin best regards and our deepest condolences, and hope to see him back onboard and telling those awful jokes again, shortly.

THE NATURALIST SPOT. And just because we go into the North Sea, does not mean that the RRS Ernest Shackleton relinquishes her role as being primarily a Scientific Vessel. This week, the science spot researches that rare and elusive animal known as 'the Safety Poster'. (Safetierious Posterious). It has been

noted recently, that the long-dormant animal is coming out of hibernation onboard the Ernest Shackleton, and solitary individuals and occasional pairs of these species are appearing all over. They are shy by nature and are indigenous to the bulkheads of the corridors and doors on all decks. They have been known to hunt in packs but solitary predators are in evidence and are seen at all times of the night and day. Recent research has confirmed that they are not a purely nocturnal animal and the photos below were largely taken during the daylight hours.

Click on Any Image to
Enlarge a Gaggleof Signs Posted Around
The Vessel.

You will gather by the appearance of Safetierious Posterious that Health and Safety are top of the agenda. Although already a vessel conducting safe practices and observing the Code of Safe Working Practices (CoSWoP) onboard, HSE is of paramount importance in the North Sea environment as you might expect. But rest assured that Safetierious Posterious is particularly safe, as the open hunting season on this particular species is October through to January !


And so to Aberdeen. We arrived on May 17th and stayed alongside for the best part of the week whilst we mobilised the ROV's. This gave us an excellent opportunity to go exploring and for those who were first-time visitors to the place, the consensus was that it was a 'good run ashore'. Aberdeen has everything and berthed, as we were, only a few minutes from Union Street, the centre of town was but a short walk away.

Click On Image To Enlarge.
Click On Image To Enlarge.

Click On Image To Enlarge.
Click On Image To Enlarge.

The view afforded from the bridge clearly shows how close the city really is. My particular favourite is the castle turret on the municipal building at the top of the Union Street. That this is close to the multiscreen cinema, various bars and a rather splendid Italian restaurant has nothing to do with my preference ?

But our stay in Aberdeen was all too short and amazingly swiftly, the ROV's, Survey equipment and Satellite systems were in place and ready to test.


In order to test the ROV's the ship has to pull away from the quayside, otherwise it makes it difficult for the ROV's to actually get WET in this wet test. Pulling off slightly, each of the submarines were launched overboard into the murky waters of the Aberdeen harbour and thoroughly run through it's paces to verify the optics, the controls, and the integrity of the systems onboard each of the small vessels.

Click On Image To Enlarge.
Click On Image To Enlarge.

Click On Image To Enlarge.
Click On Image To Enlarge.

The wet test highlighted a small snag that had to be rectified with one of the subs, but no sooner had it been repaired, was it wet-tested again, given the 'all clear', recovered to deck, and the pilot was called onboard for departure Aberdeen into the North Sea Oil Fields.


Subsequent to the update of May 21st, I can bring you up-to-date and Sunday June 04th alongside the Bruce Platform.

No sooner was the RRS Ernest Shackleton in the North Sea and working amongst the Oil Rigs, than she had several unexpected events.

The first was a helicopter on the Saturday 20th to exchange out one of the Clients Data Analysers. It was at this time that Wavey Davey heard of a bereavement in his family and was added to the passenger list of those departing the rig by helicopter. I believe it was his very first Helicopter ride, but any feelings of excitement and novelty were surely overshadowed by his recent news. Davey flew back to Scatsca in the Shetlands to be repatriated via Aberdeen, and train to his home town.

The Helicopter G-TIGF duly arrived and HLO Mike Golding had the opportunity to play with his first helicopter of the season.

However, over the weekend, the vessel also discovered it needed to go into port for some remedial maintenance and since Norway was closer and boasted an availability of service personnel that were not available in the alternative port of Lerwick, we headed for the coastal town of Bergen. Leaving the rigs of the North Sea behind us, we went alongside and spent some days in Bergen getting our problems remedied and allowing those off-duty members the opportunity to get ashore and sample the delights and prices of Norway. Suffice it to say that the cost of living in Norway is very high and you just do not get very much change for your Krone ??? But for a surprise visit, I don't think anybody objected to paying the GBP 5.00 for a bun and a cup of coffee ?

Some of the more adventurous managed to take the Funicular railway up to the mountain overlooking the bay of Bergen and get some really good photos, but I am afraid they will have to wait till next time. At the same time, the Radio Officer also managed to require medical attention (some say he has been requiring medical attention for many years… psychiatric, that is ??), but that means that this webpage is NOT being written to you from the confines of the Ernest Shackleton Radio computer. Getting off in Bergen and being flown home, I had the foresight to send the uncompleted pages back to my home email address were I could complete the project and update you on the turn of events this last month.

The onerous task of Radio Officer is now being shouldered by our Electrician Paul, whilst he is being supported by visiting Electrician Peter Hales who has helped us out on several previous occasions on the Shackleton. However, the new duties of Paul will not allow for editing a weekly webpage and so unfortunately the Shackleton will now go into a period of 'Stealth Mode' until a replacement webmaster can be volunteered … er… found ?

We wish you a pleasant summer back home and hope to be back with you as soon as conveniently possible.

Best Regards

(The Editor)

Forthcoming Events: Continue the Offshore workscope commencing with the Bruce Platform pipeline and riser inspection. We have a very full itinerary of work up and down the North Sea until the JH Crew departs the vessel in mid-July and is replaced by the JBM Crew.

The North Sea Diaries will unfortunately be suspended until a replacement editor can be found.

Stevie B

Radio Officer.