Port Townsend, today. "Got a whale of a tale to tell ya boys, A whale of a tale or two…" So sang Ned the Harpooner (Kirk Douglas) in Walt Disney's epic adventure, "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea."
For the past few weeks, we've been treated to a tale or two about the converted OBO, m/v A Whale! I've been told to make that a VLOO (Very Large Oil/Ore) carrier. I would venture to guess I've posted more complete information, including photographs, about this vessel than any network news or shipping blog.
After spending Friday at anchor on the Mississippi River at Boothville, Louisiana, the m/v A Whale is on the move. Once the darling of the media, heralded as the savior of the Gulf, I may be one of the few still tracking her movements. Her fall from fame and glory was swift, once the inadequacy of her oil skimming design became apparent.
The GPS track this afternoon shows her south and slightly west of the Mississippi River Southwest Pass, skirting widely away from the Deep Horizon work site.
TMT must be doing more "data" gathering runs. The m/v A Whale had been waiting to load ore at Vale in Rio before the BP oil disaster. But before those duties can be resumed, a yard needs to be located to secure the open slots in her bows.
They too, were earmarked by Mr. Nobu Su of TMT to be modified into "super oil skimmers." One would think those plans would require serious rethinking in view of the miserable performance turned in by the "A Whale."
I've managed to locate her sister, m/v B Whale. She arrived in Portugal last Saturday July 17th. Captured by photographer Angel Luis Godar Moreina entering, Setúbal Portugal.
Type: VLOO (Very Large Oil/Ore Carrier)
IMO Number: 9424211
MMSI Number: 636014538
Call Sign: A8UQ5
Yard: Hyundai Heavy Industries, South Korea
Length: 340m (1,115 ft)
Beam: 60.0m (197 ft)
Main Engine: Wartsila 7RT-Flex82T
Auxiliary Engine: Hyundai Himsen 8H25/33.6H25/33
She is currently at the Lisnave Mitrena Shipyard, but it is unclear if modifications will be made to her. It would be reasonable to wait until data gathered from the m/v A Whale tests have been digested, and the oil gathering mechanism refined.
Mitrena Shipyard is located in the River Sado estuary, close to Setúbal and 50 Kilometers from Lisbon.
The peninsula of Troia, providing safe anchorage and mooring for ships of any size, shelters the yard.
You will notice on the photograph "Panamax Hydrolift Complex." (Panamax just fits Panama Canal) Completed in 2000, this represents a new concept in dry dock facilities.
Rather than being in deep holes - graving docks like the ones to the left on the photo marked "Capeship Graving Docks," (Capeship too big for Suez or Panama canals.)
Instead of working in a deep pit, the Hydrolift facility "lifts" the vessel up to yard "ground" level. Makes it much easier to work on, as equipment does not have to be lowered into a pit.
This short video explains the concept. I spent more than 12 hours researching "hydrolift" in a dozen permutations. I located this clip by accident, whilst rummaging around in Google Portugal. Precious little is available on the Internet. And what little there is explains even less!
The third vessel - of five in the "Whale" class" - m/v C Whale was recently launched. Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) in South Korea delivered her to TMT (Today Makes Tomorrow) on June 5, 2010. Captain Berry and Chief Engineer E S Kang have taken delivery of the vessel, and will proceed on her maiden voyage to Singapore to replenish bunkers.
It is unclear how Mr. Su will proceed with these modifications. m/v C Whale has a long journey around Africa to reach Portugal.
I've sent emails requesting photographs of the C Whale, but am not holding my breath.
My late wife and I would play a "speculation" game, wherein we would invite 10 "guests" for dinner. People who we thought would provide interesting conversation. Mr. Su is a man I would invite. He's having fun with his shipping company. In addition to the 5 "Whales" he also owns 3 "Elephants" A-C (VLCC's), 2 RO-RO's, Ladybugs A&B and others.
I think we can agree, that amid the rotten politics, criminal behaviors and catastrophic destruction of the Gulf produced by the Deepwater Horizon incident, Mr. Su's "A Whale" has provided an interesting diversion.
A Whale: Demystified
A Whale: Super-skimmer or White Elephant?
A Whale: Beached
A Whale: The Rail Connection