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May 04 - Back in North Sea Mode

Date: Sunday 04th May 2008

Position @ 1200 Local (BST): 57°02.03 North, 001°47.1 West. Offshore Aberdeen.
Next destination: Aberdeen, Scotland, UK.
ETA: Sunday 04th May 2008. - this very afternoon.
Distance to go: 13.5 nmiles.
Distance Traveled since Immingham this North Sea Season: 263.5 nmiles.

Current weather: Overcast, Grey, with occasional drizzle.
Sea State: Moderate Sea State.
Wind: Sou'Easterly, 21 Knots.
Barometric pressure: 1016.8 Hpa
Air temperature: +9.3°C
Sea temperature: +7.2°C

Current position
Current position

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


The RRS Ernest Shackleton arrived back in the UK on Wednesday 16th April - rather earlier than normal - after an uneventful remaining steam up through the English Channel and onwards to the River Humber. We docked in Grimsby in Lincolnshire.

On route we were surveyed from the air by the French Atlantique ATL3 maritime patrol aircraft, over-flying the Shackleton several times before passing on to other vessels. Flying low overhead, allowed a good photograph opportunity. So as much as they were probably snapping away at the ship from above, we were all snapping away at the aircraft from below :-

ATL3 flies by
ATL3 flies by

ATL Close up
ATL Close up

Close up from the ATL3 webpage ( http://www.naval-technology.com/projects/atlantique/ )

and further shots as the aircraft flies off into the distance

ATL3 flies by
ATL3 flies by

ATL3 flies by
ATL3 flies by

The visit broke up the otherwise quiet voyage North and last minute preparations for the demobilization.


Davey is back, but briefly...

Davey tells me that he is treated like a God at home...
'Yes', he says, 'whenever it is mealtime, he is given burnt offerings !'


And one from the Galley this week...


A Chinese fellow returns home from a vacation back to his homeland, and when he returns he is confronted by his dustbin man.
'Where's your bin' enquires the Dustman.
'I've been to my homeland. I've been to Hong Kong' says our Chinese friend.
'No', retorts the Dustman, 'Where's your Wheelie Bin' ???
'No, no', insists our Chinaman, ' I wheelie bin to Hong Kong !'


We spent all of 10 days alongside in Grimsby emptying the holds and clearing the Helideck. Gone again were the Antarctic trucks and caterpillars, gone were the skidoos and containers on skies, and gone were the holds full of Antarctic waste and returning cargo. Before long, we were an empty ship devoid of anything Antarctic.

The Tula too was landed for summer storage in her usual home at the sheds of Grimsby. In her stead, we loaded up the Light Taut Wire for the Port Main deck and Mini crane which lives on the Focs'le forward. All the guises of the North Sea Season were returning and for Capt.Harper's crew, it was like we had never been away. Remember that we demobilized in Grimsby after the last North Sea Summer and took the vessel to Cape Town. Latterly we have brought the vessel back from Cape Town to mobilize once again for the North Sea. Blink, and that's 6 months that disappeared !

This year the Vessel in on charter to a sub-contractor from the Acergy Group. We welcome the representatives and contractors of Hallin onboard and look forward to a very productive summer working ... where ?

To date, we have several options and are awaiting confirmation of the where the crew of the Ernest Shackleton will be working and crew-changing this year. It's very much 'up in the air', but one thing is for sure ... we have visited Aberdeen in Scotland.

An unusual view
An unusual view

This is an aspect of the Shackleton that is not often featured in the web pages. This shot is taken over the side of the Port side Helideck rails. It shows the empty ship on the move from the Humber around to mobilization in Aberdeen with really nice weather.


The first part of any North Sea Season is our FMEA/DP Trials. It is our annual MOT for the vessel and every year we take her out to the North Sea where we promptly attempt to 'break the ship' ! Now why anybody should want to jump out of a perfectly serviceable aeroplane with a parachute is beyond me. And why anyone should purposefully wish to break a perfectly serviceable ship is equally perplexing, but we do our best ! And usually we succeed in breaking things.

'What happens if we pull the emergency supplies on this part ?'

'What will happen if we take away the supplies from that piece of kit ??? '

... and so forth. The intention of these trials is to ensure that despite whatever may befall, the vessel will continue to operate correctly by virtue of it's duplication of equipment and redundancy of systems. This is what it is to be a DP2 vessel (Dynamic Positioning Class II vessel).

Once we had completed these trials we headed directly back to the Humber but this time further up the river to the port of Immingham. Immingham has expanded it's commercial facilities and so the amount of traffic coming in and out of the dock has effectively reduced as RO-RO boats now have a safe haven outside of the docks.

However, we were not alongside very long before we had disembarked all the DP Trials personnel and had embarked all the necessary Charterers for the journey around to Aberdeen in Scotland. We arrived in Immingham on the Sunday evening and departed again the following evening. Unfortunately this meant long days for the crew as they had to standby till way past midnight after a long day of business on the vessel. Hence the reason the webpage failed to materialize last weekend. Sorry.

And then it was up to Aberdeen for the start of the Mobilization 2008 !


Mobilization involves lots of contractors of all disciplines and from all walks of life who attend the vessel to bring about the transformation of a bare vessel to a working survey and Remote Vehicle platform. This is really involved and includes laying in power supplies, data cables, hoses of all descriptions, computers, survey equipment, satellite systems, and the Remote Operated Vehicles.

The Triton XLS Rov
The Triton XLS Rov

Launching the new Triton on the ROV trials
Launching the new Triton on the ROV trials

The two vehicles this year are a Lynx ROV and a Triton XLS workhorse ROV.

Lynx with launch winch
Lynx with launch winch

Rov in the TMS (Tether Management System)
Rov in the TMS (Tether Management System)

Both are squeaky clean and new and an impressive adornment to the decks of the Shackleton.

Shiny new Lynx submarine waiting to go to work
Shiny new Lynx submarine waiting to go to work

Once the transformation was complete, the empty decks of the Shackleton were crowded and there is barely room to manoeuver around amongst the plethora of cages, containers, winches and submarines.

Crowded Deck
Crowded Deck

And finally, we have been alongside in Aberdeen for the remainder of the week with occasional sojourns out to the basin to turn around or out to 15km offshore to wet-test the ROV's all in preparation for the forthcoming work. Unlike the relatively calm docks at Immingham, Aberdeen is a constant hustle and bustle and coming and going of vessels of all shapes and colour on a daily schedule of arrivals and departures.

Ships parked
Ships parked

Just latterly we have heard that the Shackleton will commence the job in the Norwegian Sector this week, so all our preparations are not in vain.

The RRS Ernest Shackleton has started the North Sea Season 2008 for sure.

Forthcoming Events: Finish preparations for sea and depart Aberdeen for the North Sea off Norway.

Contributions This Week: Grateful thanks to Wavey Davey and new DPO Gary Hopkins for their photographic offerings this week.

The next North Sea Diary No.2 should be produced in the next week or two subject to operations.

Stevie B
Radio Officer