Moving the Semi-Sub Drilling Rig 
"Borgland Dolphin"

This is the actual illustrated story 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 ship.

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.

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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.

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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.

Continued...

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