Peering Above The Horizon is…

Pioneering Spirit.  As I sit, writing here at lunchtime on Tuesday 19th, looming above the horizon and more than half way to France is the Pioneering Spirit on passage to Kristiansand in southern Norway.

It is the world’s largest construction vessel, designed for the single-lift installation and removal of large oil and gas platforms and the installation of record-weight pipelines.  Designed by Swiss-based Allseas Group, the 382 m long, 124 m wide vessel was built in South Korea by Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (2011–14) at a cost of €2.6 billion and commenced offshore operations in August 2016.

In June 2017, Pioneering Spirit commenced pipelaying for the first line of SouthStream Transport B.V’s dual 930-km Turkish Stream gas pipeline in the Black Sea.

Pioneering Spirit is the world’s largest vessel, in terms of its gross tonnage (403,342 gt), breadth (123.75 m / 406 ft.), and displacement (1,000,000 t).  The maximum 48,000 t (47,000-long-ton; 53,000-short-ton) topside lift capacity is achieved by operating as a semi-submersible. For removal of topsides, the vessel straddles the intended payload with the slot formed by the twin bows. The slot measures 122 m × 59 m (400 ft × 194 ft) (L×W). After straddling the payload, Pioneering Spirit takes on ballast to lower, and two sets of eight (one set per bow) retractable motion-compensated horizontal lifting beams are slid under the payload. Once the load is secure, the vessel offloads the ballast, rising in the water and partially transferring the load to the beams. In the final stage a fast lift system is used that lifts the payload up to 2.5 m in 15 s.

Two tilting lift beams for the installation or removal of steel jackets, up to 25,000 t (25,000 long tons; 28,000 short tons) in weight, will be located at the vessel’s stern.[25] A 5,000 t (4,900 long tons; 5,500 short tons) special purpose crane built by Huisman is scheduled for delivery in the second half of 2018. The tub mounted crane will be available for additional lifts for jacket and topsides installation such as pile handling and bridge installation.[26][27]

When equipped with the Stinger, Pioneering Spirit can be used to lay pipe. Pipe segments are welded together on board the vessel, then are placed on the Stinger, where they roll into the water. The Stinger is curved to guide the pipe to the bottom of the ocean. The Stinger itself weighs 4,200 tonnes (4,600 short tons) and measures 150 metres (490 ft) long and 65 metres (213 ft) wide. It is attached to the Stinger Transition Frame (STF), which provides an interface between the Stinger and the vessel; the STF is installed in the bow slot when attached to the vessel. The Stinger Transition Frame weighs more than 1,600 tonnes (1,800 short tons) by itself.

The vessel is equipped with eight, 20-cylinder (20V32/44CR) MAN 11,200 kW diesel generators providing a total installed power of 95 MW, driving 12 Rolls-Royce azimuth thrusters which provide dynamic positioning (DP3) and for propulsion. The vessel’s maximum speed is 14 knots. The accommodation has room for 571 persons in two-berth cabins.  Taken from Wikipedia.

Monster Crane Passes Along Sussex Coast

When having returned home last night (Mon, Aug 12 2019) just after 8-30 as dusk was closing-in, I noticed a lot of lights out towards the far horizon and a red light – ‘Oh, a distress flare’ I thought for just a moment but no, it was a flashing navigation light atop the world’s third largest floating crane.  It’s absolutely Gigantic!  It is currently on passage being towed to the the Bahamas for the Gulf of Mexico at just 6.5 knots.

Statistics.

The Saipem 7000 has two NOV Lifting and Handling AmClyde model Saipem 7000 fully revolving cranes. Each has a 140-metre-long boom fitted with 4 hooks. Each crane is capable of lifting up to 7,000 tonnes at 40 m lift radius using the main hook. The auxiliary hook capacities are 1st Auxiliary 2,500 tonnes at 75 m radius and 2nd Auxiliary 900 tonnes at 115 m. The whip hook has a capacity of 120 tonnes at 150 m. The 2nd Auxiliary hook can be deployed to a water depth of 450 m. The two cranes are capable of a tandem lift of 14,000 tonnes.  (Taken from Wikipedia).

Each crane was fitted with 15,600 hp (11,630 kW) engines to power the boom and load hoists, 9 tugger lines and the crane slewing system. The cranes use 48 miles (77 km) of wire rope of various diameters.

Ballast system.

The Saipem 7000 was fitted with two ballast systems: a conventional pumped system which could transfer up to 24,000 tonnes of water per hour using 4 pumps and a free flooding system. The free flooding system used 2 m diameter valves to open certain compartments to the sea thus trimming or heeling the vessel. This allows the vessel to lift cargoes from barges much faster than if just the crane hoists are used.

Power system.

The vessel’s main power is provided by eight 12-cylinder 8400 hp diesel engines built by Grandi Motori Trieste, a former Fincantieri company. Later Grandi Motori was purchased by the Finnish Wärtsilä. They provide up to 47,000 kW of electric power at 10,000 V 60 Hz for propulsion and positioning. Auxiliary power is provided by two 6-cylinder 4,200 hp (3,130 kW) GMT diesel engines. There is also an emergency generator.  Total power that can be supplied is 57,000 kilowatts (76,000 hp).

Working off coast of Norway.

General characteristics
Class and type: Semi-submersible crane vessel
Displacement: 172,000 t (heavy lift)
Length: 198 m (overall)
Beam: 87 m
Height: 43.5 m (keel to deck)
Draft:
  • 10.5 m (34 ft) (transit)
  • 18.0 m (59 ft) (survival)
  • 27.5 metres (90 ft) (heavy lift)
Installed power: 70,000 kW
Propulsion: 12 thrusters
Speed: 9.5 knots (17.6 km/h; 10.9 mph)
Crew: Up to 700 persons

Thursday, July 25th – A Storm Arrives

The weather suddenly turned quite dramatically here early this evening, this happening on the hottest day of the year – indeed at Cambridge, it breaking the all time UK record for the hottest day, it reaching 38.7C (101F) and here reaching about 32/33 degrees C…
Late-afternoon, and the sky had gradually changed from broken cloud to menacing dark-coloured clouds, this change approaching from the SSW.  At 5-55pm, a few heavy spots of rain began to fall, thunder and lightning seen and heard about 4-8 miles away out to sea to the SE, the eye of the storm about to miss the Hastings area and probably making landfall towards the Rye area to the east.  By now, fairly torrential rain was falling, the street gutters now swollen.  But the South wind!  Firstly, a large area of sea perhaps 2-3 miles out to the SE took on a whitish, almost misty appearance – it being whipped-up by the wind.  The sea generally at about the same time, went from a deep blue, a little choppy with some ‘white horses’ to within 10 to 15 minutes, a wild, winter seascape – the sea becoming completely quite rough and dichromatic with the countless crests of white-topped waves!  I have been lucky through life to have witnessed the sea in many of its moods but I have never witnessed such a dramatic change, within such a short period of time!
By 6-15pm the situation had peaked, the storm having passed by and over the following 10 minutes the wind abated, the sea quickly calming again and becoming a settled blue again by about 6-25pm.

Tuesday’s Dramatic Sky Observations

Tuesday, June 18, and from my fairly high bay-window vantage point, a number of notable weather and astronomical observations were in evidence…

The day started off greyish, quickly brightening up through the morning.  From late-morning until late into the afternoon it was very humid.  During this same period, far out towards the seaward horizon, lay a thick band of brown, polluted air that was quite distinct with the unaided eye, probably arising from the dirty fuel that most ships still use.

Late-afternoon and the sky clouded over.  (Mid-evening and the cruise ship Queen Elizabeth 2 sailed down Channel making for St.Peters Port).  Late evening, and very low over the far south-eastern horizon the full moon – minus a day, slowly rose from out the blackness – it probably being the most blood-orange-coloured moon I have ever witnessed in my entire life!  Fantastic!

As it slowly rose in the heavens, it was consumed by the storm clouds of a fierce  electric storm which radar showed to have developed over the mid-Channel on air coming out of the Cherbourg peninsula, this drifting north-eastwards and clipping Sussex and Kent, there being much intense fork lightning, thunder, a stiffening breeze accompanying the intense rain that arrived just after 11pm, the roads resembling rivers.  The storm then slipping away some 40 minutes later.  What a spectacle!

Cruise Ship Britannia

7-50am, and the Britannia is steaming past Britannia – well to precise at this moment, St.Leonards and is relatively speaking, close in at 13 miles and on passage from Bergen in Norway and making for Southampton for an 11am docking.  She is easily identified by her twin funnels.

The MV Britannia is a cruise ship of the P&O Cruises fleet.  She was built by Fincantieri at its shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy.  At 143,000 GT, Britannia is the largest of seven ships currently in service with P&O Cruises and she is also the flagship of the fleet.  She officially entered service on 14 March 2015, and was named by Queen Elizabeth II.  Britannia features a 94 metres (308 ft) Union Flag on her bow, the largest of its kind in the world.  A beautiful looking ship but cruising wouldn’t be my choice – all that frivolous consumption would be at odds with my environmental beliefs!

Length: 330 m   Capacity: 3,647 passengers         Cost: £473 million            Speed: 21.9 knots (40.6 km/h; 25.2 mph) @ 136 rev/min.

Salt Marshes – Our Unsung Landscapes

https://www.theguardian.com/science/2019/feb/19/plantwatch-salt-marshes-are-the-unsung-heroes-saving-our-coastlines

Salt marshes are the unsung heroes saving our coastlines

Paul Simons, The Guardian, Tue 19 Feb 2019.

Salt marsh in Norfolk.

Salt marshes are not glamorous – muddy flats on coasts and estuaries, washed with seawater on the tides, where only specially adapted plants can survive in such a tough salty environment.  Although frequently ignored, salt marshes are unsung heroes. They help protect coastlines from storms, storm surges and erosion by creating a buffer between dry land and the sea, building up the height of the coast by trapping silt during floods and adding new soil from their decaying vegetation.

Less well known is that salt marshes lock away vast amounts of carbon by taking carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere through their plant leaves and storing it in the roots. And, when the plants die, the carbon becomes part of the soil. Salt marshes also provide a refuge for birds, fish and invertebrates; they provide clean water by filtering runoff, and they are low maintenance because they naturally self-repair.

But, in many places, salt marshes have been destroyed by drainage for land reclamation, coastal developments, sea walls, pollution and erosion. Globally, about 50% of salt marshes have been degraded and the rest remain under threat.

Schemes to restore salt marshes have proved successful, though, such as the Wallasea Island project in Essex, the largest scheme of its kind in Europe. Land that had been reclaimed for agriculture long ago has been turned back into wetland.

November Sightings

Tuesday, November 7In the morning, one of the largest container ships in the world passed down Channel off the Sussex coast.  She was enroute to Southampton on her outbound voyage from Europe after sailing from China via Sri Lanka while on her first round voyage.  The Milan Maersk is one of the largest vessels of her type in the world with a capacity for 20,568 containers – that’s nearly 400 containers more than the previous largest.  In 2016 the largest container vessel calling in Southampton had a capacity for 16,000 containers.

Maersk Milan. Image Credits: ABP Southampton.

The megaship belongs to the second generation of Maersk Line’s Triple-E class (Economy of scale, Energy efficient and Environmentally improved) and is part of a series of eleven container ships, which will be delivered by the end of 2018.  Milan Maersk’s propulsion and software system creates energy savings which aims to reduce carbon emissions per container vessel by 35 percent.  This new generation of more efficient and environmentally friendly container ship joins LNG (Liquified Natural Gas) and solar powered RoRo vessels already visiting the port of Southampton.  For more technical information see    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maersk_Triple_E-class_container_ship  ).

Thursday, November 9.  With thick grey cloud overhead at daybreak, there was a clear, fabulously-coloured sky out at sea towards the south-east, creating brilliant blue skies with a golden sun surrounded by bright vermilion skies, casting bronze hues on the autumn-tinted trees near my house.

 

October Sightings

Saturday, Oct 7th.  During a grey, damp morning, I saw two groups of brent geese numbering perhaps 150 birds passing Hastings, battling head-on into the the strong westerly wind and presumably on passage from perhaps Siberia to spend the winter at somewhere like Langstone Harbour further along the coast.

Sunday, Oct 15th.  We went walking up on to Seaford Head and in the vicinity of ‘Puck’ Church’ were rewarded for in excess of 10 minutes by a peregrine jousting with a raven above the cliffs.  A sheer speed that the peregrine came in at for some of its attacks!

Monday, Oct 16th.  Very mild today!  Late afternoon today, daylight became quite weak and semi-darkness descended to be followed at dusk by a strange light – a kind of dirty orange light in the SW sky.  All due to the passing of tropical Storm Ophelia (producing near hurricane force winds) over Ireland, it also carrying north much dust from the Sahara and smoke particles from wild fires in northern Portugal.

Saturday, Oct 21st.  A gale (Storm Briane) and a spring tide produced some huge waves along the beach at Seaford, with the strandline out in the road in places.  Newhaven breakwater also took a pounding as can be seen in the following Facebook pic by Fergus Kennedy.

Tuesday, Oct 31.  Two large (each some 1,200 gross tons) Dutch-based(?) but British flagged trawlers, have been working some 10 miles off the coast from Hastings all day.  Not what the Hastings beach-based fleet wants to see?