This is the actual
of the Rig "Borgland Dolphin" under tow, by the m.v."Seaforth
Warrior". I took the pictures mostly during this operation, but some are
from another occasion, with better weather, but are the same rig. The
ability to take pictures is usually limited, by weather and safety.
We collected this Rig
from an anchorage outside Montrose, Scotland, and picked up all 8 of
her anchors. We then towed her the 350 miles to the Murchison
Field North East of Shetland. On the way, in horrendous
weather, we broke the tow, at 02.00hours. in the morning, and then
had to recover the broken tow, stow away the broken cable, and spool
up our spare towing wire (they are about 1.25 miles long) from the
storage reel in a hatch below the big winch. Then we had to reconnect the tow,
in mountainous seas.
During this tow we
experienced a horrendous act of negligence by a very large tanker.
Despite our - and the rig's - attempts to contact him by radio and
signal lights he actually passed between the rig and ourselves. We
were able to slack off and lower the tow wire but it caused a very
unnecessary danger to the rig and ourselves, not to mention his own
When we arrived at the
"Murchison" we had to 'lay-to' because of weather for a couple days.
Then we positioned her right alongside the Murchison Platform,
(close enough to put a gangway across), and then run out the eight
anchors plus a further 7 back - up anchors.
First task after lifting
the Navigation marker buoys, is lassoing the buoy, a very hazardous
task at any time.
Sometimes you can't, then
you have to bring the ship around for a second time, and try again,
often a few times. This can incur a great deal of time lost, when
the Rig is at its most vulnerable. It is therefore imperative that
this is carried out expertly.
The buoy caught, the
lasso, a wire about 1 inch in diameter, is connected to the
tugger-winch, and the buoy is then hauled aboard.
Probably the most
dangerous time is stoppering the buoy, because it is only held on
the lasso, and the men are between the buoy and the water. Should it
snap, they will almost certainly be killed or seriously injured. A
specialist job. During this operation the Master must guide the ship
to optimise the least possible weight on the wires.