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September 09 - The Call of the Wild

Date: Sunday 09th September 2007

Position @ 1200 Local (GMT): 56°16.5 North, 003°23.68 East. Alongside the Valhall Platform. Norwegian Sector
Next destination: Immingham, UK
ETA: Friday 14th September 2007.
Distance to go: 212.7 nmiles.
Distance This North Sea Season: Undetermined.

Current weather: Overcast, Windy but Dry and Clear.
Sea State: Heavy Seas, Large Swell
Wind: Northerly, 16 Knots.
Barometric pressure: 1005.8 Hpa
Air temperature: +14.0°C
Sea temperature: +14.6°C

Current position

Up to date position information is available courtesy of ‘sailwx/info’ taken from our Metrological Observations.


THE CALL OF THE WILD ...

Our last weekend in the North Sea.

Rough sea

All being well, the Shackleton's North Sea Charter Period will come to a successful conclusion on Thursday 13th September. The gratifying thing is that the Client would keep us longer if they could. But the call of Antarctica is heard from afar and the RRS Ernest Shackleton and her crew must put the Joys of the North Sea Oil Industry behind them and take her into refit to prepare for the next Antarctic Season.

The RRS Ernest Shackleton, and her sister ship the James Clark Ross, are migratory animals. They leave their summer feeding grounds in the far North to make the long, long, journey to the Southern Breeding grounds of Antarctica. Other migratory beasts such as the Blue Whale and the Albatross make equally long migrations, and scientists have tagged them to plot their routes across the globe. With the Shackleton and the JCR, it is much easier affair altogether... simply read the latest Web Diaries !

With the appearance of our next Web Diary, we hope to be down in Portsmouth and refitting the ship in the Naval Dockyard.


Meanwhile in the North Sea...

Life onboard this week has gone on much as it has for the last 3 months. We have our ROV's in the water continuing on the scope of work on the Rigs and Platforms of the Norwegian Sector and if you have seen little change on the Web Camera every day, it is because we are still alongside the same Valhall Platform that we were alongside last week.

The Cooks continue to cook, the Dieters continue to diet ... in the face of the Cooks producing all that good food, the ROV pilots continue to pilot, the DPO's continue to Dynamically position the vessel, and the weather continues to be about the only changeable thing around.

This week the weather has been largely rough, causing the work to be halted at times as the wave heights make it too difficult to recover or deploy the submarines over the side. But as soon as the wind and waves abate, the ship is moved back in to continue it's 24-hour a day work with much thrusting and pitching.

This weekend, the forecast was for high seas and deteriorating conditions. This can be seen from the excerpt from our NAVTEX message received on 518khz at 2300 UTC (Sunday Midnight - local time).

ZCZC LE60
082300 UTC SEP 07
NORWEGIAN WEATHER BULLETIN:
....FORTIES
NORTHWEST FORCE 5, FORCE 6 IN EASTERN
PART, SUNDAY MORNING SLIGHTLY DECREASING.
MAINLY DRY, GOOD. SUNDAY AFTERNOON
INCREASING TO WEST FORCE 6, IN THE EVENING
INCREASING TO NEAR GALE FORCE 7 IN THE
NORTHERN PART.
RAIN, MODERATE TO GOOD.

(AND LATER...)

ISSUED BY THE MET OFFICE AT ...
...GALE WARNINGS : VIKING FORTIES CROMARTY
FORTH DOGGER HUMBER FAIR ISLE
... VIKING FORTIES
NW 6 TO GALE 8, DECR 5 0R 6, ROUGH OR VERY
ROUGH. SHWRS. GOOD.

A brief translation of the above is '' Horrible, becoming even more Horrible '' !!!!

Rough Seas around the Legs of the Valhall Platforms.

Although a picture can barely capture the constant up and down that the heavy seas produce onboard, the sea state is just about discernable by the waves lashing up against the legs of the nearby Valhall platform.


THE ANTHROPOLOGY SPOT

The Shackleton Scientists have been out in force this week to track down one of the most overlooked species indigenous to the marine world.... The Lesser-spotted Yellow Floor Signs.

A sole specimen cruising the Corridors of the Shackleton.

After last month's expose on the Scottish Mako Shark, we follow on with another report concerning an unusual species often overlooked and never photographed. The Lesser-spotted Yellow Signs are shy and retiring creatures that often lurk in the darkest recesses of the vessel and only emerge on the odd occasion when they go out foraging. Russell the Steward is largely responsible for the appearance of these strange creatures providing them with the damp, moist conditions that they seem to favour.

The Lesser-spotted Yellow Signs are solitary hunters, but we were lucky enough to be on the scene with the camera when a herd ( flock ? group ? Gaggle ???) of signs happened by. Keeping low as to not disturb them, and remaining in the shadows, the photographer was able to shoot a couple of snaps before - startled by his presence - they scurried back to obscurity.

Yellow sign Yellow sign Yellow sign
Sshhhh... Quietly does it ... Click to see the Yellow Signs at the Shackleton watering hole.

Next week. Don't miss the Nature-spot's look at another Solitary Animal which is due to make another appearance soon ... The Lesser-spotted (but slightly hairy) Wavey-Davey !


And Finally for this Week...

During a moment of calmer seas and benign conditions offshore, we had the opportunity to part-take in crane transfers from the Platform. In this instance, vital supplies and spare parts were lowered down from the Platform to the Helideck where we were waiting to receive them. Another time, a Personnel Transfer Basket called a 'Frog' was used to transfer two Personnel to the Shackleton. The use of Personnel Basket Transfers is becoming more and more infrequent as Personnel usually arrive and depart the Platform by Helicopter, but the only way to get freight on and off the Platform is by Crane onto vessels beneath. Occasional fresh provisions, or papers make it onto the helicopters but anything of any size can only be brought out by ship.

Transfer by crane Transfer by crane
Click to see an evening transfer from the Platform.

These massive Platforms dwarf the vessels beneath as it edges closer and closer to get underneath the crane operating above.

Forthcoming Events: Complete the North Sea Charter Period and depart the Norwegian Sector for Immingham on the Humber. There we will demobilize the North Sea equipment and Charter Personnel, and prepare for our 5 week refit in Portsmouth.

Contributions This Week : The Met Office for their excellent Weather Transmissions, and Russell the Steward for Warning us of Slippery Floors.

North Sea Diary No.8 should be produced on Sunday 16th September - operations permitting. To be Published on Monday 17th.

Stevie B
Radio Officer