Saturday, December 19, 2015

Something Strange This Way Comes: Final Chapter

Friday, Dec. 11th.

A gaggle of Foss tugs moved the drill ship Noble Discoverer from her off-loading site at Everett, to Port Angles. Dockwise Blue Marlin will dry tow her to Indonesia. The trace below shows the convoy passing my town in the wee hours of Friday morning.

I watched the convoy advance courtesy of MarineTraffic, planning to drive over to Port Angeles - about 45 miles from home - as they approached the harbor.

GingerSnap and I arrived in Port Angles just as the Foss tugs completed aligning the Nobel Discoverer over the heavy lift vessel, Dockwise Blue Marlin.

This was the second time this year I got to observe the Blue Marlin in action. She dry towed the Polar Pioneer up from Indonesia, unloading in Port Angeles in April.

What a remarkable moment in history, to have the largest heavy lift vessel — Vanguard — next to the former, now second largest heavy lift vessel — Blue Marlin — next to each other in a port in the middle of No Where!

Turned out there was a lot of "waiting around" for the big float-on! You quickly figure it out that you have a better chance of watching paint dry than observe the lifting and securing of a vessel to the deck of the Blue Marlin!

I told anyone who asked, they were witnessing a once in a life-time event: The biggest and second biggest largest semi-submersible vessels virtually side by side, in the middle of No Where!

According to published reports, the Blue Marlin will depart on Tuesday, December 15th.

Tuesday, Dec. 15th

MarineTraffic shows the Blue Marlin did depart Port Angeles to dry tow the Noble Discoverer to Indonesia. Trace shows her working southwest well off Cape Flattery.

Meanwhile a gaggle of Foss tugs maneuvered the second dry tow, Polar Pioneer, over the Dockwise Vanguard. Since I had an appointment here in Port Townsend, I was unable to drive back to Port Angeles to witness the the second float-on.

But I was able to catch the action via MarineTraffic dot com! The first trace was broadcast by the Anchor Handling Tug Ross Choust. It clearly demonstrates a lot of maneuvering required to free up the eight anchors that held the Polar Pioneer in place!

The second trace broadcast was from the Polar Pioneer, as she responds to the anchor retrieval and delivery to the Dockwise Vanguard.

The third trace records the movement of tugs over and around the Vanguard. She is able to sink in place, allowing 50 feet of water (19 meters) over her deck. So tugs have no problem "running over her" to position the tow.

Wednesday, Dec. 16th.

We've had a number of weather fronts move across the Puget Sound, so I looked at the prognosis for Port Angeles, and found a lull on the 16th We (me and my Production Assistant - GingerSnap,) arrived at Ediz Hook to a gloomy and damn cold conditions.

While not the world's largest ship, she IS the world's largest heavy lift vessel. In fact, she has 50% more capacity than her sister, Blue Marlin.

To be "technically" correct, we should refer to the Vanguard as a semi-submersible heavy transport vessel (SSHTV.)

Vanguard is as long as three NFL football fields placed end to end. And the deck is 230 feet wide. Dockwise Vanguard has a gross tonnage of 91,784 but because the ship can carry loads longer than itself, the figure is meaningless other than for registration and charging purposes.

The problem you have when viewing such a vessel, is coming to grips with the sheer size!

Loading capacity is rated at up to 110,000 metric tons (121,254 tons) and the bowless design means the large structures can be loaded out from the yard and transported intact to remote offshore drilling or production sites.

Her uniquely removable bow, allow her to carry vessels and drill equipment that would extend over her bow and stern!

Vanguards diesel-electric power is generated by two Wärtsilä 12V38 engines producing 8,700kW (11,667 hp) at 600rpm and two 6L38 engines producing 4,350kW (5,833 hp) at 600rpm for the ship's main propulsion and one Wärtsilä 6L20 auxiliary engine. Wärtsilä also supplied the reduction gear system, two controllable-pitch (CP) propellers, two retractable thrusters, and one bow thruster.

The propulsion system is designed to provide a service speed of 12kt (14 mph) fully loaded and 14.5kt (16 mph) in ballast. Medium speed gensets provide power for two 6MW electric motors, each driving the 5m controllable pitch propellers in Kort nozzles. When a lower speed is required, the ship need only rely on the smaller main engines for power with the larger units put off line.

The most stunning feature is her offset navigation and crew accommodations, standing some 15 stories high!

The House  was constructed in two modules. Shown here is the rear module of the house being attached to the hull.

Read the writing on the rear section, to see how it mated with the forward module.

 Offset steering and close proximity to bow, requires specialized training to master!

She was taking on bunkers from the Shauna Kay, following her trip up from Singapore.  Olympic Tug & Barge (Harley Marine Services) of Seattle owns the Brian S and James T. Quigg. James T. Quigg has a raised pilot tower for Articulated Tug & Barge (ATB) assignments.

I did a lot of research on the Internet, trying to learn what forces are in action, that prevents these heavy lifts from flipping. Turns out to be a combination of prayer, smoke, and mirrors!

Maasmond Maritime

A fellow by the name of Piet Sinke hosts an interesting web site, Maasmond Maritime. On his site I found a series of interesting photos taken on board the Vanguard, loading a semi-submersible Ocean Patriot, similar to the Polar Star.

Vaya con Dios, Shell!

Many people — including me — are breathing a sigh of relief learning that Shell is putting further Arctic exploration on the back burner. The sheer madness of drilling for oil in an inhospitable environment, is the zenith of Republican greed. (Remember: I do NOT publish "anon" messages - they go directly to the Trash Bin!)

Always looking for a way to garner "positive press," Shell donated an estimated 15 tons(!) of food from the Polar Pioneer to the local food bank in Port Angeles, for distribution to other service agencies.

She's headed back to the North Sea — the hard way. The Vanguard is 79 meters (259 feet wide). That prevents her from transiting the Panama Canal.

That means all the way down to the Strait of Magellan.

See Also:
•  Something Strange This Way Comes: Redux!
•  Something Strange This Way Comes! 

Production Notes:
■  All Port Angeles shots taken with my new Panasonic Lumix ZS50.
■  Processing meets or exceeds the over-rated Adobe Light Room, FREE, ships on CD with camera, Silkypix 4.3SE
■  PhotoShop Elements 10.  I use it for adding photo notations and minor cleanup.
■  Contrast Master & Focal Blade (Harold Heim) LAST step in processing!

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