Tuesday, 1 November 2016

120 Days at Astrolabe

For long-term Followers of this Blog, the heady days of the Rena salvage in 2011 was the making of the 'Antipodean Mariner' as the unvarnished story from Astrolabe Reef, penned by Captain Kevin Judkins as Master of the AHTS 'Go Canopus', was fed to the Web as a daily serial.

With the blessing of Daina Shipping (Rena's Owners), Captain Kevin Judkins has published a book of his personal story and photographic record during the salvage operation.

The book '120 Days at Astrolabe' contains Kevin's personal diary and hundreds of unpublished photographs taken by him and others at the wreck site.

It's a fabulous record of the operation, from the perspective of a professional mariner experiencing a once in a lifetime event up close and very personal.

The book is self-published and can be purchased direct by contacting the author at rena120daysatastrolabe@yahoo.com 

Drop Kevin an email and get your copy mailed to you from New Zealand.

Stuart Scott
The Antipodean Mariner
November 2016

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Farstad's 731's Down Under

I'm still getting my head around the Offshore Industry's use of design types to describe ship. In bluewater shipping, ships may be of a class or series or named after the first ship built, but offshore vessels are described with the mathematical precision of a Mercedes Benz or BMW model.

Farstad's largest and most modern anchor handlers are known as the 731's, or their full title of UT731CD. The Norwegian-built 230 tonne bollard pull, multi-engine direct and diesel-electric drive anchor handlers capable of working in water up to 3,00 metres. We currently have four 731's under our management in Asia-Pacific, 'Far Senator' being the latest addition after conversion in Singapore to provide fire-fighting duties.

Good fortune had three Farstad 731's lined up at Dampier, West Australia yesterday - and no, this picture has not been PhotoShopped. Left to right: Far Saracen (Chevron), Far Senator (Woodside) and Far Sirius (Woodside) courtesy of the Dampier Port Authority's Pilot Boat crew to whom I thank and acknowledge permission to use the photo. Far Shogun was out at the rig earning her keep.

Times are tough in the offshore industry but shots like this are a testament to the investment in technology by their Owners and the professionalism of their Crews operating large, complex and sophisticated vessels just metres away from rigs.

The Antipodean Mariner

Saturday, 7 May 2016

El Faro

In October 2015, the 1975-built US-flag container ro/ro vessel 'El Faro' was lost in the Caribbean with all hands  - 28 American crew and 5 Polish riding engineers performing maintenance on the vessel's boilers and steam propulsion system.

A short summary of the casualty are as follows; the vessel departed on her scheduled voyage from Jacksonville, Florida to Puerto Rico sailing ahead of a slow-moving hurricane. Losing her propulsion system and adrift, the storm overtook the vessel and she appears to have violently capsized. The vessel's wreck was found largely intact in 15,000 feet of water following a sonar survey.
El Faro's transom
An inquiry by the US NTSB has commenced, and with the discovery of the Voyage Data Recorder in a second ROV survey of the wreck the inquiry may be able to fill in crucial audio testimony of what happened on the bridge in the moments leading up to the vessels loss.
El Faro's VDR awaiting recovery
While the vessel was found largely intact on the seabed, the inquiry is focusing on the vessel's age (40 years at the time of her loss), her propulsion system (steam turbine) and life saving equipment (davit-launched open lifeboats).

Plenty has been written, blogged and opined on the relationship between the US Jones Act, the age of the US-flagged merchant fleet and the loss of 'El Faro'. The Antipodean Mariner has an opinion but will refrain from mounting his high horse until the final inquiry is concluded and published.

Tradewinds, a Norwegian maritime publication (probably the best news source in the shipping industry) has commissioned a Podcast series by Eric Martin, their US Bureau Chief. If you can't afford the US$2,035 annual subscription, the podcast 'The Sunken Lighthouse' is available on Soundcloud. At the time of posting, the first two episodes are available.

The podcasts provide a factual and balanced summary from maritime professionals, and are an excellent analysis.

I'll be following the inquiry and will repost anything that interests me.

The Antipodean Mariner

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Heading Offshore

This last week I have the privilege of spending 24 hours on 'Noble Clyde Boudreaux' in the Timor Sea, drilling the production wells for Shell's Prelude Floating LNG project.

Noble Clyde Boudreaux: Noble Corp
The trip was organised by Shell for the major contractors supporting the project, primarily to show how safety is actively managed aboard the rig between the 148 crew and their specialist roles.

To be able to fly out to the rig from Broome, I had to complete a two day basic safety and survival course which included HUET - Helicopter Underwater Escape Training. To be able to fly offshore, trainees need to successfully complete eight evacuations from a submerged, inverted helicopter. No-one particularly enjoys this component of the training, which thankfully is valid for four years.

The helicopter ride out to the rig was uneventful until we descended over the patch and a whole tableaux unfolded. Within visual distance of the helicopter were the rigs Jack Bates (INPEX), ENSCO 5006, Noble Clyde Boudreaux and construction vessel Aegir along with their support fleet of supply vessels  - no photographs permitted unfortunately, all cameras had to stowed in our luggage.

Once aboard the Noble Clyde Boudreaux, the size and complexity of the rig was astounding. Crew and contractors undertaking the physical drilling, mud analysis, locating where the drill bit was located in relation to the gas reservoir, ballasting the rig, loading and unloading stores...

As dawn broke on Tuesday, our PSV 'Far Skimmer' was close alongside under the port crane discharging drill string and back-loading empty equipment containers. As a Farstad employee, I was proud to be able to point out the vessel's features and describe how she maintained station in Dynamic Positioning mode only 20 metres of the rig's submerged pontoon hulls.

Far Skimmer close alongside NCB: BigFella
My thanks to Safety Coach BigFella - a fellow Kiwi - for hosting us aboard NCB and for the photos of Far Skimmer.

Back from the rig in Broome, I had two days visiting 'Far Skimmer's sister 'Far Sitella', also supporting Noble Clyde Boudreaux and our Anchor Handler 'Far Strait' supporting the INPEX rigs in the same patch. A good week, back to reality on Friday.

The Antipodean Mariner

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Reactivating the Blog

After a long absence from the Blog, I found that it's been 'hijacked' by re-posted feeds from some Oil and Gas site - damned if I know how that happened, deleted them all!

After some deliberation, I'm 'outing' the Antipodean Mariner. I'm Stuart Scott, a Kiwi and Australian, living in Melbourne, Australia. 2015 brought a new role in a new industry, and I joined Farstad Shipping in January as Chief Operating Officer for the APAC region.

Farstad Shipping have just delivered their first Subsea Offshore Construction Vessel 'Far Sleipner'. Here's a link to a beautiful fly-over clip shot with a drone in Aalesund, Norway.

Sill plenty of stuff left to post over the coming months of my past and present 'loves'.

Stuart, the Antipodean Mariner

Wednesday, 9 October 2013


On August 19th 2013, the Capesize bulk carrier 'Smart' ran aground departing Richards Bay, South Africa, with a full cargo of coal. It's been reported that there was a heavy swell running at the time, and that 'Smart's stern hit the seabed in the swell trough. After grounding, she drifted out of the channel, stranded and broke in two. If you open up the first photo to full screen, the lower part of the rudder has sheared off - whether from the grounding for afterwards.

If the grounding is attributed to touching bottom in the heavy swell, it bears a remarkable resemblance to the grounding and successful salvage of the 'Jody F Millennium' in Gisborne, New Zealand.

'Smart's stern was 'cleansed' of bunkers, lubricants (and hopefully the crew's personal possessions) and was successfully towed into deep water were she was scuttled. Maritime blog gCaptain carries the story and photo sequence from the salvors, Subtech Group, for which the AM attribute the sequence below.

M/v 'Smart' was an elderly Capesize, built 1996 at Mitsui Shipbuilding in Japan. Salvors continue to work on the forward section (Holds 1-6).

The Antipodean Mariner

Friday, 27 September 2013

Dynamic Under Keel Clearance

When ships are underway, a safety margin - the under keel clearance - is applied as a buffer. A static under keel clearance, or UKC, is typically 10% of the ships draft. In addition to the allowing for the imperfections in the sea bed and squat, it also makes the ship maneuverable. If the UKC is too small, Bernoulli's Principle creates localised low pressure zones under ship causing her to shear, or veer off course, and to be generally uncontrollable.

Commercially, deeper draft equals more cargo which equals more freight - depending on where you stand in the supply chain. Using predictive algorithms, shipping is dipping into the 10% static under keel clearance rule of thumb. This technology is called 'Dynamic Under Keel Clearance', and was pioneered by an Australian company, OMC International. Data from wave-rider buoys is combined with historic tide date, prevailing weather and barometric pressure. The algorithm calculates what the tide should be and then compares the predicted tide height with the actual water depth from the tidal meters. DUKC is being used in four of our ports to maximise cargo loading, and gives the Master an individualised target draft to load to.

What's this got to do with the photo below? Earlier this week, four bulk carriers were waiting for the DUKC-predicted tide to transit the Prince of Wales Channel in North Queensland.

The four deep draft vessels here had a 30 minute window to transit Varzin Passage from west to east. The line up (left to right) are our 'RTM Dias' (Captain Gupta), 'Noble Halo', 'Solin' and our 'RTM Twarra' (Captain Loveland). My thanks to Captain Wal Cray, Pilot of the westbound 'Jubilant Success' and 'Australian Reef Pilots' for this photo.

The Antipodean Mariner