Hello reader, sorry for not posting anything for a week but I have been incredibly lazy busy

.We have been “ooop north” and are no back “daaahn saarf” still laying [pipe in the Gulf of Thailand.

Here are the fab sounds for today

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wBgp5aDH23g

I work 6 weeks on and 6 weeks off so I have to round trip commute 4 times a year. Here is the routine of my commute when coming to work this time.

I will usually leave France and head to the UK on the overnight ferry to either Plymouth or Portsmouth the day before I fly out to the ship.
I prefer the ferry arrival at Portsmouth because, once clear of the immigration queue, it is one set of lights, turn left and you are on the motorway, although even at 6.30 in the morning it will still be three lanes chock a block at 40 mph, at least you are clear of the city and away.
The last time we arrived at Plymouth was at 0630 on a Saturday morning and we experienced what, at best, could be described as a slightly off colour “welcome to England”.
We had cleared the immigration and pulled up to the first set of lights:- you bear right to head to Exeter, and left to head to Cornwall. There is a pub on the left hand side at the lights and a KFC to the right.
There were half a dozen men brawling in the pub car park, being screamed at, or cried at, or ignored, by about 30 bystanders, (including what appeared to be doormen), as well as two or three young chaps who appeared to be asleep or in a drunken stupor slumped by the wall of the pub.
As we turned right we noticed that the kebab shop was still doing a roaring trade at this early hour, with about 25 people inside and a queue of about 10 more outside in the street, one of whom was projectile vomiting out into the road, no doubt making room for his kebab or unloading one already consumed.
One of his friends obviously thought he should help hose it down by flopping out his penis and urinating into the road.
Along this 500 meter stretch of road in among the vomiters, the brawlers, the piddlers, the staggering blind drunks and the aggressive staring drunks, were about half a dozen “ladies of the night” who, it has to be said, didn’t look to alluring in the cold light of dawn and would probably be best advised to only ply their trade at night (very very dark nights) but to give them credit for recognising a potential business opportunity,  they were still gamely trying to sell their wares, not only to the thin pickings available from the punters on the pavement but also by casting a hopeful “glad eye” onto the passing, newly arrived ferry traffic.
As we drove away from this somewhat disturbing scene we were at a bit of a loss to elucidate our feelings on such a spectacle, however after some effort “disappointment” came high up the list as did revulsion, pity, and thankfulness that we have made various life choices that resulted in a different outcome as opposed to what was on display.

Once in West Dorset I have my hire car delivered and then gad about seeing my mother in law, and my children, I do anything that needs doing in terms of helping out the family and organize any personal bits and pieces that need sorting. Then I will nip up to Curry Rival (out on the Somerset levels) to see my own mother for a coffee and a natter.
From there I will zoom up the A303 and drive up to the Holiday Inn at Heathrow. Depending on the time of night I get there I may have a feed, but I always manage to have a few beers and then grab some sleep.
Talking of the Heathrow Holiday Inn, it has to be said that they have elevated some of their bar prices to a level where it has become a spectator sport for me seeing the shock on people’s faces when presented with the bill. This time a couple came to the bar and the lady ordered a vodka and lemonade and the man a glass of Merlot. The barman prepared the drinks and said “That’s 17 pounds please”
I thought the lady was going to fall over as her shock was obvious. She was almost giggling with disbelief when she asked him to check and he said “Oh yes that’s 7.50 for a 125ml glass of Merlot, 7.00 for the Vodka and 2.50 for the lemonade”
Her voice aghast and loud with incredulity, she said “2.50 for a small splash of lemonade??????”
He said “Yes madam it is on the price list”. She wandered off muttering about thieving hotel chains and I have to say I did have a twinge of sympathy for her, however the Vodka was a double as that’s all they serve. Stella is 4 quid a pint, which is just within the realm of acceptability however if you want a 330ml bottle of beer (ie Becks ) to take to your room it is 4.50. They are indeed robbing bastards.
Later another woman came up to the barman and asked if he had any bottled water. He showed her a 330ml glass bottle of spring water and she asked how much. 2.50 came the cheery reply.  Given the rapid rise of her eyebrows she was a bit taken aback, but she made me chuckle when she asked if the tap water was safe to drink and would she be charged for it and if not how much was it to hire a glass to put it in for the night .
It is all well and good getting a room for 70 quid, or sometimes less, but the price rockets if you have some wine or a mediocre dinner.
( I should note at this stage that my airline tickets, hire car costs, bed and food, are claimed back on expenses, my booze and any other treats come out of my own pocket)

In the morning I wake at 7 have a shower, settle the bill, drop the hire car back to the rental agency and take advantage of their free courtesy bus for a lift to Terminal 3 arriving at about 8ish.
The Singapore Airlines desk is usually open by then and as I have already checked in online I go to the short queue for online check-ins and pick up my boarding pass.
It is surprising the amount of grumbles, stares of disdain and muted moans I have received when bypassing the normal queue and standing at the front of the normally empty internet check-in queue. It was no different this time as the check-in lady waved me forward to complete the check in a couple at the front of the queue next to me rushed across to the check-in desk (that had waved me forward) saying “We were her first and he has just pushed in”
I found it impossible to restrain the grin as she said “No he is in the correct queue for “Internet Check In”” then looked around them and beckoned me forward again, whilst pointing to the front of the desk that said “Internet Check In” for the benefit of the disgruntled ones who assumed I was pushing in.
I gave them my best gallic shrug and said “These new modern fangled computer things are marvelous once you get the hang of them eh?” I don’t think they were too chuffed about it but it really was their own problem and not mine and although “smug” is not a feeling I am used (nor would I want to get used to) but I did have a twinge of it on that occasion. Had they the bottle to ask if I was pushing in I would have happily explained about the internet queue, but their huffing and puffing, and raised eyebrows left me a little immune to their displeasure.
 
I normally only ever take a small backpack as hand luggage with any new books, my android pad, 2 spare pants and a shirt or two. This time I had bought a new 12 string guitar (with a hard travel case) and was taking it back to the ship for a practice. Because I was having to put that in the hold I decided to take a small suitcase as well crammed with new books that will last me about three 6 week trips.
It should be noted at this stage that winter or summer I always travel dressed in the same garb which is flip flops T shirt and long-ish shorts with plenty of pockets. This probably explains why I never get offered an upgrade but the last thing I want to do is get out of the airport in Asia wearing warm western clothes and then have to carry them around. In the UK longest I have to spend outside of a warm area is the 45 seconds it takes me from the car-drop to the bus and then from the T3 bus stop to the departures hall. Even with snow on the ground I can cope with that.
It is the same on the return journey and the longest I have had to wait for a hire-car courtesy bus is 10 minutes which even when the temp is below zero is still manageable. I must admit if I stop for breakfast on the way down to Dorset to see the family it can be the cause of some strange looks from people in the middle of winter. When I fly back direct to France I don’t venture outside from getting off the plane to getting off the TVR at Rennes.

Once checked in I will see how long I have (normally 3 or more hours before take-off as I always arrange to be there at least 3 or 4 hours early) and then will go airside and use my Priority Pass card. This nifty bit of kit (message me for details) gains me access to lounges at nearly all international airports and gives me access to comfortable quiet seating, free wifi, food, booze, and other drinks. It costs about 200 quid a year and I get ten entries for that (so not free food and booze but it is well worth it for the amount of time I spend in airports IMO). I use it in Heathrow T3 and CDG every time as they are appalling airports to be waiting for a flight, whereas the lounges offered are very peaceful and civilised. I will have some breakfast, check my mails and a few large G&Ts as the flight I am normally booked on leaves at 1130 and arrives in Singapore at 0700. (13.5 hour flight time) I find that a few large G&Ts allows me to get some kip in on route.
Once boarded I will have some lunch and maybe another G&T or wine, watch a movie or two, play the in-flight trivia quiz and snooze till breakfast and arrival at Singapore.

I may be overnighting in Singapore, if so I claim my baggage and make my way to the edge of Chinatown to Duxton Road and the Hotel Berjaya, ( a bit of old school Singapore) where I will have a room booked. I travel there on the MRT (which is a modern, well run, clean and airy tube train and costs 1.50 quid to travel most of the way across Singapore) from Changi to Tanjong Pagar and then a five minute walk.
If not overnighting in Singapore I will be flying up to Hat Yai in Thailand at about 1300 from the Budget terminal, so I tend to hang about at the arrivals in Changi and have some good food at one of the many great food outlets there and maybe treat myself to an early beer. The reason I stay at the main Changi arrivals is because the only food outlet at the Budget terminal is the appalling, multi national, Mc Donalds. If I were the Singapore government I would hang my head in shame for allowing these peddlers of junk to open an outlet in one of the most diverse cuisine areas of the world.
McShiteburger has to be the only food in the world that has more nutritional value on the way out that in does on the way in. It probably tastes better too.

So after a breakfast, hanging about using the free wifi and catching up with emails and stuff it is a 5 minute free bus ride to the budget terminal and onto a Tiger Airways flight up to Hat Lai arriving about 2.30 local time.
As I emerge from the arrivals the company shipping agent will be waiting for me. She has a really easy welcoming nature and is always laughing and joking about, and often brings her girlfriend along for the 45 minute drive to Songklah.
They are both fascinated with life in Europe (and Europeans more liberal stance on lesbian relationships) and spend the time asking all sorts of questions, but (in their own words) they have no desire to go and live in a country that spends a substantial part of the year with temperatures lower than the inside of their fridge.
 She is excellent at her job and always drops me off at the hotel with the information of what time she will be back for me in the morning, whether it is a chopper or crew boat out to the vessel, and who else is staying at the hotel from the ship so we can meet up for a beer.
My normal routine then is to drop my bag in the room, have a shower, change my underwear and T shirt and nip down to the bar for a few beers to “take the edge off the journey” and see who else is up and about.
At some stage, as the evening progresses, I will have a lovely local seafood meal, go to my room and fall into a deep, long awaited, proper sleep in a proper bed. Ah bliss.

If it is a chopper flight I will be up at 6.30 have a shower and some coffee and quick breakfast and then a three hour drive up along the low lying coastline to the heliport.
There is little of note on the way except a series of poorly constructed concrete villages with the occasional glimpses of the sea and mangrove swamps. At the chopper station we are breathalysed for booze and p!ss tested for drug use and when shown clear you board your chopper for the flight out to the vessel.
If you are not clear and fail either test it is a straight “red card” and you need to look for another job and a way of getting back to your country of origin. The dismissal is instant and you are left to fend for yourself and make your own way home. If the company owe you any wages they will organise a ticket and transport but will deduct it form your due.
The flight out to the vessel is anywhere between 45 mins and 1 and half hours, the first 5 mins is over land and then it is just the Gulf of Thailand.
As the Senior DPO (Dynamic Positioning Officer) I am on the midnight to midday watch so if I arrive after midday I can unpack and take it easy till midnight.
If it is a boat-trip out we are normally picked up from the hotel at about 9ish and taken down to the crew boat quay where we undergo the same drug and alcohol tests and if clean join the crewboat.
This will be about 30 meters long and have seating accommodation inside for up to 50 persons in aircraft style seating. There will be coffee making facilities and drinking water as well as a packed lunch of sorts. The trip out to this field can take anywhere between 6 and 14 hours depending where the vessel is. Once on board the vessel I am either immediately on watch or get some time for a lay down before my first watch.
It normally only takes one watch and one sleep on board to get into the new time zone although when travelling west and heading home it seems to take longer and I can still be feeling discombobulated up to 3 or 4 days later.
So that explains how I get to work, next I post I will describe a day in the life on board.
Cheers
Bentley

Lahloot and the strange Jack Russell

Still in the Gulf Of Thailand and still laying pipe
Weather is marvelous, idyllic sublime and just about as perfect as it could be.
I do apologise for rubbing it in, but it really is very pleasant indeed and a long stroll in the sunshine laden warm breeze is called for when I knock off.

The music today is a song that came to me when I was mucking about on my new 12 string guitar last night and I had forgotten how good it was. (not the way I play it I will gladly admit)
Here are two versions first the album version and the second is the live version so you can choose how you like your music and settle back and enjoy

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QbG6M28UkFg

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p1SNuoeeY6Y&feature=related

Lahloot and the Jack Russel
Lahloot is from the Malaysian Sarawak province of Borneo.
He is an honest, trustworthy and thoroughly enjoyable chap to share a few beers with and yarn the evening away with.
He character is displayed when he smiles, as he has one of those rare, radiant, beaming smiles that involves his entire face in a celebration of joy.
You may speculate that his dentist is perhaps cross eyed, or even blind, given Lahloot’s multitude of snaggly teeth, and it would be true to say that when all on display they resemble the aftermath of an earthquake in a graveyard, however the beauty of a smile is in its spirit and soul, and in those departments he is profusely provisioned.
His English is excellent due to working 20 years or more in the offshore marine industry where the international default language is English, although it has to be said that some American and Australian crews do test that theory to breaking point on occasions.

When joining the vessel this time we had a night in Pavilion Hotel Songklah, set in the middle of town, and we ensconced ourselves on the veranda enjoying few cold beers and talking about our homes and families. We were swapping tales of the scrapes children get into and the universal behavior traits as they grow older when I mentioned our dog Mini.
“What sort of dog” he asked
“ Jack Russell” I replied, to be treated to another eruption of that beautiful open smile and he said “Me too. We have a Jack Russell called “Bhaggy” and it is fantastic and so amazingly clever, the cleverest dog I have ever had ” and then he solemnly added “except for one thing which is crazy”.

He explained that he had bought Bhaggy from a breeder (also Malay but with no English) a couple of villages away, as he had been recommended to him by his vet after this previous dog (a heinze 57) had died. Lahloot had always liked Jack Russell’s and thought it would be ideal for the young children and indeed the whole family loved Bahggy who seemed to return the favour.
The breeder had told LL that Bhaggy was toilet trained and also pre-trained to answer to all the normal commands such as sit, come, stay, etc.
Bhaggy seemed perfectly at home with the family and was indeed toilet trained going out when needs be but whenever anyone gave him an order he just cocked his head to one side and stared at them or ran about in circles. Exasperated but not wanting to travel all the way back to the breeders he called in at the vets (who had recommended him) to find out if the dog was deaf or just daft and that the breeder had lied. The vet was more than happy to double vouch for the owner and asked Lahloot to demonstrate the problem. Lahloot duly gave the orders of sit come and go etc to the dog which stood and looked at him with head cocked.
The vet then gave a series of orders and the dog did exactly as bid and the vet said smiling proudly “There is your problem, the dog only understands English and you have been speaking to it in Malay”
Lahloot was gobsmacked and said that the breeder didn’t speak English so how would the dog understand it. The story is that the breeder had some dogs stolen so he learnt the commands he trained in English, thinking that the thieves wouldn’t be able to tell it what to do and it works.
The only trouble is that it only responds to English commands,.
They have had the dog ten years now and it is still the same.
Priceless, a Jack Russell at its absolute best.

Cheers
Bentley

gas leak

9* 40′ N
101* 20′ E
heading 000*
Speed 4.6 knots (on passage)
Wind:- Lite Airs
Temp 82* @ 0530

On our way 55 miles “ooop north” to start a new pipe line.

Music today one of Mrs B and Miss B’s favourite dance tunes by Mr Scruff
Let your hips do the work for a few minutes

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ik–d9Nhcb8&feature=share

Can you Smell gas?

Apart from DP self propelled pipe laying barges there are those that rely on anchors to drag themselves forward as they lay the pipe.
They have an array of anchors set out 4 in front and 4 behind and are tended by three anchor handling tugs working 24/7 that pick up and drop the anchors to a pre surveyed pattern that enable the vessel to claw its way forward without pause.
There is also a mid cable buoy tug that pulls buoys into the middle section of the wire that have a strop and sheeve below them and keep the belly of the anchor wire clear of the sea bed and prevent it from fouling any sub sea infrastructure when inside a field.

If the correct procedure is not followed the results can be expensive as shown below when this incident caused the shut down of supply of 15% of Thailand’s gas supply.
This had the run on effect of serious gas shortages for compression into fuel for cars and many taxi drivers in Bankok had to revert their engines back to petrol in order to keep on the road.

if you look straight astern form the barge you can see the mid buoy of the anchor of which there should have been three when negotiating around a sub sea main gas manifold. The wire is connected to the anchor handling tug seen.

http://i455.photobucket.com/albums/qq279/rusticbentley/P1030804.jpg

http://i455.photobucket.com/albums/qq279/rusticbentley/IMG_0186.jpg

Because procedure wasn’t followed the cable sagged and then snagged on the sub sea manifold and with the tug speeding of to the new anchor location the wire ripped through the manifold causing a fracture which then blew the 32 inch gas pipeline that runs 150 kilometers the shore. The gas is pumped in the pipeline at 150 psi so as you can imagine even if they managed to close the shore end valve after a while it is a lot of gas under a lot of pressure.
The photo you can see of it erupting pout of the surface is coming form 70 meters deep and it stood up to about 5 meters plus high.

http://i455.photobucket.com/albums/qq279/rusticbentley/P1030805.jpg

One spark and it would have been like a nuke going off and destroyed the vessels and all those on board.
The sea turned to a frothy stinking scum and was so aerated that it threatened the buoyancy of the vessels nearby. In fact when it fiorst went off the anchor tug did loose bouyancy and nearly went under with half her back deck submerged but by pilling on the power she managed to escape however by piling on the power it probably just did more damage sub sea.

It was over an hour before the alarm was raised sand they stopped welding in the firing line of the barge.
The company client observers we helicoptered of the vessel within hours. The anchor was pulled in and an old fishing net attached and let back out again. It was then put forward that the fishing net had snagged the manifold and not the anchor wire.
There is suspicion that large suitcases full of dollar bills were arranged by the parent company to be delivered to various Thai government officials and inspectors.
The fabricated story was accepted as fact and no blame was apportioned and the official story never made it to press.

Funny old world innit?

Love and Peace
Bentley

People and Funerals

The music for today is one of those tunes that will have you dancing around (and dont forget to dance as though no-one is watching. Go for it). If you are none to good on your feet then shake whats left of your body where you sit. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x90NoBIW87Q 

Ah isn’t that superb!! 

09* 35.9′ N 
101* 16.8’E 
Course 352* 
Speed 1.6 KMs per day (Pipelaying) 
Gentle SxE breeze 5 knots 
Temp @ 0500 83* 

We are laying this pipeline down tonight and then heading “oop north” for about 50 miles to pop in another couple more. 

I am reading Christopher Hitchens “God is not Great” and was reminded of this letter i read a while ago and had adapted it slightly to post on TF but never got around to it. 
Now is as good a time as any while I am in the mood 

I attended a funeral today. 
I went to show support for a widower. 
I did not go inside to listen to the sermon. I never do. I walk around the grounds, looking at nature as well as the countless human efforts at being ‘remembered’ in the shape of flowers and marble. 
On these occasions I feel like an outsider to my fellow men who, not unsurprisingly, feel a desire to be comforted. I feel the odd chill of mortality. 
Many of my friends inside need to be told that the dead are somewhere else, that the parting is temporary, that the death was for a ‘purpose’. Music to soften the blow, to make the departed special, to remember them. 
The pious wonder if it is lonely or difficult to be atheist with no imaginary guide to call on in an hour of need , no-one to blame when disaster strikes. No one to beg from to make it better. 
I often cringe with distaste when I hear the believers use the phrase “there but for the grace of god there go I” because what they undoubtedly mean is “there by the grace of god goes someone else”. 
I have no doubt that truth and reason will out in the end and that nature, if you care to observe it without the blinkers of “design”, points the way. It just lives. It carries on. It has no need for theology or sermons. 

The service ends. I shake hands and smile a sympathetic smile to the bereaved, which is sincere. I offer him no hope, no dream, no comfort. All I can offer is the friendship of one human to another, regardless of his beliefs. 
Such a small thing is I believe far superior compared to the charade of an after life that religions of all persuasions inflict on us. 
Life is so very simple. Enjoy family and friends while we have them. Live off the memories of what we have had, not an unknown fanciful dream of tomorrow . 
The natural world is the only ‘sermon’ we need and gives any man or woman a feeling of ‘belonging’ without religious strings. 

Cheers 
Bentley

Fishy Fishy?

9* 35.1′ N
101* 16.9′ E
Heading 347*
Speed 1.5 kilometers per Day
Pipelaying.
Wind gentle 5 knot southerly breeze
Clear sky @ 0400 temp 82*

Fishy??
Where are you??
Hello fishy fishes.
Hello sharky warky. Hello dolphins.
Heeelllloooooo?????

There are none. Nothing. Just a few small tiddlers.
No sharks sighted, no dolphins sighted, and nothing showing up on our stinger cameras.
The seabed is barren, no plant life just a silty sh!ty sludge, no crabs or anything else.
Even when in close to a rig, the normal home of a myriad of sea life for the top predators down to the humble sea cucumber, there is a marked dearth of sea life of any type.
If you want a prime example of what over fishing can do to an area of the sea then go no further than here.
The fleets of Thailand, Cambodia Malaysia, Vietnam, have been netting and trawling and decimating the area for years using ever more sophisticated methods of catching a dwindling stock and now they have finally done it. There is sod all left.

“How can I be so sure?”  you may ask, well allow me elucidate.

We have a thing that sticks out the back of the barge called a Stinger.
It is made of 8 and 10 inch tubular steel as well as substantial box steel girders.
It is 50 meters long and 6 meters wide
It weighs 425 tons and its purpose is to guide the catenary of the pipe line as it exists the vessel and proceeds to the sea bed.
The method of pipe lay using a stinger form tyhe stern of the vessel is called “S” Lay as the profile looks like an elongated flattened S on its side.
It looks a bit like the thorax of a wasp hence the name “stinger”.
On this current lay we have it at an angle of 13 degrees which means the end of it is at about 11 meters below the surface.
Most jobs we do, (in the average depths of water here of 70 meters) are done with the stinger tip at between 10 and 13 meters below the surface .
We have too high definition sub sea cameras on the stinger, one at the end looking back towards the ship and one looking across the end.
We also have an ROV in the water most of the time operating from 15 meters to 79 meters depth monitoring the touchdown and profile of the pipeline.

When you put a large construction of lattice steel in the sea, practically anywhere in the world, withing hours it has become a hotel for a wide diversity of fish from the tiddlers, who see it as haven, to the big predators who see it as a free take away, although they normally arrive later.

When we put the stinger in sometimes within minutes, and certainly within a few hours, the cameras look like they have been placed in a huge well stocked aquarium with a large variety of fish of all shapes and sizes using it as a sort of fish hotel and new habitat.
From  8* 30 to 10* 40 north that’s 130 miles long by 40 miles wide we have no more than three or 4 piddley little fish in the stinger and not one predator. On the ROV we have only seen perhaps 5 “other fish” and we did have a lone cuttle fish the other night dancing in the camera spotlights.

200 miles south  in the Malaysian sector there were plenty of fish of all sizes knocking about and off Bali Indonesia and  Borneo and Papua New Guinea it was like fish soup, but up here it is a grim picture indeed.
I have seen more fish on the camera in the North Sea and that is pretty barren after decades of self interested, greed propelled, poorly managed and governed over-fishing I can assure you.

It is at time like this when you see the damage done by too many greedy people trying to scam a few quid today with no thought for tomorrow all fueled by corruption and avarice that leaves my heart heavy with sadness for the plight of the human animal.  😥  😥

Cheers
Bentley

I nearly forgot the music of the day and because I am sad I have  chosen a song that, although hauntingly beautiful and can convey a feeling of sadness it also shows that there is still the hope of light and moving forward.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rXRExocnpUw

Back ON Line and Laying Pipe

Ahoy! There M’Hearties. (am I right in thinking that Ahoy is the only word in the English language that should have an explanation mark behind it ? or am I confusing it with Ho! as in Wesward Ho! a rather dreary little collection of shabby bungalows along the coast from Bideford?)

98 35.8′ N
101* 21′ E
Speed 1.7 kilometers per DAY
Course 156*
Wind SE3 (Gentle breeze)
Sea state less than half a meter ESE’ly swell
Temp (@0400 83*)

WE are in the Gulf of Thailand laying pipe in the chevron field which constitutes a major part of the Thai oil and gas supply. WE expect to be here until late September installing several new [pipe lines and the  installing several new platforms connecting the pipe line to the platforms sub sea and installing a new mooring system for an FPSO (and offshore floating, production, storage and offloading facility)
I will try to keep you updated with what we bare doing and how we are doing it for the more technical minded and inquisitive and also make some forays into writing about old tales or new ideas as we go along.
My due of date is April 24th and, as normal, when I am home my updates will be sporadic at best until I join again on June 12th.

Suffice to say that Mrs B and I had a wonderful leave, very busy and productive and full of laughter and we were practically joined at the hip for every second of our 5 and half weeks together.
So today the music is:-
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qHPetLms4ZU

So are you wondering how a pipe laying vessel works?

Well how uncanny is that, as I am just about to explain the operation non this vessel.
We are 140 meters long and 40 meters wide. we have a freeboard (the bit above the water line to the main deck) of about 3.5 meters and a draught (the bit below the water line) of about 6.5.
We are self propelled by 6 azimuth thrusters (3 fwd and 3 aft) controlled by a system called dynamic positioning. I am a the Senior Dynamic Positioning Officer on board (I drive the boat) and answer to the Master for marine matters and the barge superintendent for project matters.
WE produce 24,500 kilowatts of power via 6 engines spread evenly between the thrusters, depending on what generator configuration we are using.
The accommodation (that can sleep 395) is on 4 decks and incorporates the galley mess rooms gyms laundries, conference rooms, offices tv lounges etc mainly on the lower deck with the cabins being on the three decks above. Above that lot is the bridge and forward of the bridge is the Heli Deck which is about 30 meters by 40 and makes an ideal place for a walk in the sunshine and breeze with 360* panoramic view of the sea.
 It is situated forward and raised up by 10 meters from the main deck and that space is filled with the pipe lining up gear.

The middle longditudinal section of the vessel houses what we call the “firing line” which is in effect a factory production line that the pipe line is created in and travels down on its way to the sea bed.
When laying pipe we have a succession of material barges loaded with pipe come in and tie up to us.
The pipe lengths are loaded onto the port side of the vessel and stacked there and then one at a time they are sent along a series of powered rollers which pulls a “rabbit”  through which is a huge wire brush that scours the inside of the pipe to remove any debris.
As the rabbit burrows down the next pipe, the one we are following arrives at the beveling station where the 12.5 meter lengths of pipe are milled and beveled to the correct angle for the weld.
They are then transported by powered rollers to the approach to the firing line.
Here it has a line shot through to the other end (more later) and the end closest to the first welding station is being followed by a bloke with a high temp gas burner bringing the end to a high heat to ensure a good weld.
As the pipe takes its turn at the front of the firing line it is situated on a set of rollers that the number 1 weld station (known as the Bead Stall) can line it up with the previous pipe end,. Meanwhile another bloke with a gas torch is heating up the other end.
The line inside the pipe is attached to the internal clamp and x ray machine crawler and as the pipe in front is sent down the line it pulls the clamp and x ray into the new position.
The internal clamp is moved into position and the Bead Stall crew line u0p the next length of pipe which is then clamped internally to hold it for welding.
Meanwhile at 8 other stations down the length of the firing line the following happens. The first four stations are all welding stations so as each joint goes down the line it is hand welded 4 times.
When on bigger pipe this one is only 16 inch) we use automatic welding bugs that do the weld.
Station 5 is the x ray station where the internal x ray crawler lines it self up with the weld and a negative is applied to the outside.  A lead hood is pulled over and ZAP.
The next station is 6 where any repairs are done if it fails the x ray.
the next 7 and 8 are where the external coating is done and the it exits the vessel via the stern through the stinger and down to the sea bed in pone seamless endless continuous process.
At the moment we are managing about 5 joints an hour. On some pipelines when using automatic welding bugs we reach 10 or 12 an hour and can do over 2 kilometers a day.
The whole thing is choreographed by a light system so as each station finishes its work they hit a green light when I have a line of 8 greens on the bridge an alarm sounds and I instigate the move forward of 12.5 meters. This is controlled by the by vessel thrusters and also the tensioner  that maintains a tension on the pipeline to prevent it form just falling into the sea. (Aussie Bert is the tensioner operator on my watch he is a bit iof a bushman when home and has already told me many ways of dispatching the most dangerous snakes in the outback. he is abit like Crocodile Dundee with a mustache and flip flops, and is great fun to share a watch with.)
(as an aside on her we also have on the bridge team a Filipino DPO, A Malay Radio Operator, A Singaporean and  a Borneo Malay (Sarawk) survey team and an Itallian client rep and an Indian Master with Thai stewrads.) There are afew other nationalities on the other watch. I am midnight to midday and we are 7 hours in front of France time.)
 
The angle of the pipeline against the depth of water and the correct tension are all finely balanced and the pipeline reaches the seabed about 380 (in this case) meters behind us.
This is worked out by the survey team and the field engineers who also work out what curves we need to lay in the pipe and where and how close to get to obstacles on the seabed that has already been pre-surveyed.
The DP system works out what track the vessel needs to make and what heading changes are needed to get the required pipe line track.
We check this every few hour with an ROV which is an unmanned sub sea robot with cameras and position beacons.
We weld on a lay down head at the end and then using a very powerful winch and the vessels motion we lay the pipe to the seabed. The ROV pops down and cuts the sacrificial sling on the end and then we either bugger of somewhere to do it again or deploy our divers to go and fit a spool piece that connects the pipeline to the nearby platform.

So you now you know when I say we are laying pipe that’s what we are up to
Good night and wild dreams
Bentley

The numbers
The longest pipeline I have done on here was 140 kilometers at 2 kilometers a day.
That was a 32 inch gas pipe line and each 12.5 meter length was about 1500 quid.
That was 16.8 million for the pipe itself and @ 250,000 a day for us to lay it = another 16 million.
There would have been all the survey work beforehand and then their is the flotilla of vessels that support us and on and on it goes.
The pipe line would have been in profit within the first 6 months of flowing.
 😯