Sunday, October 28, 2012

Luanda Memories

I have been away for too long, time to dig the trunk’s bottom, this time some pictures from the good times in Angola, I miss the good weather, the fishing, Sonils coordinator pissed during the weekends!!!ETC..

Pict 1.

Pict 2.

Pict 3.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

More on safety drills...

Preparing to lower the lifeboat.

Lifeboat on the water, 2nd Officer in charge.

Is that the new Portuguese sub? No that´s just a full speed steaming lifeboat...

Approaching the hooks, always a difficult task...

Hooks on place, start heaving up!

Lifeboat on the embarkation deck, lets go back to work.

After reading the interesting last post from José (here) I found myself remembering the lifeboat drills we used to carry out on board.
Since firefighting drills and abandonment drills are mandatory at least once a month we used to perform them at Saturdays (or Sundays, I don’t remember) while sailing (while alongside loading or discharging, all the crew was involved on the cargo operations).
Generally it consisted on a “fire” being set on a specific place (engine room, accommodation, pump room, etc.) and then, after ringing the alarm, the crew would gather at their particular muster stations according to the defined teams at the muster list, in order to begin the firefighting procedures.
Fire hoses and fire pumps were tested as well as fire detectors. Fire extinguishers were used and refilled afterwards. Breathing apparatus were used together with the fire protective clothing. Volunteers for this were always hard to get…
When the “fire” took place on deck the Cadets would most certainly end up soak and wet…
As the crew was never able to extinguish the fire, the abandonment order would be given and the crew would now muster close to their assigned lifeboat, with every crewmember responsible for a specific task that would bring the lifeboat to the embarkation deck.
Lifejackets were checked as well as the adequate protective clothing. There was a brief explanation on the liferaft launching procedures and its use on the sea, hypothermia and SAR procedures.
As the vessel was sailing full speed, lowering the lifeboat to the water was not an option. This was usually achieved when the vessel was at anchor or alongside a “friendly” terminal. In this case, instead of a complete drill, the lifeboat was tested with minimum safety crew, in order to not disrupt the cargo operations.
The engine and related controls were tested as well as all the other equipment (lights, compass, pumps, safety gear, etc.). Special attention was given to the watertightness, sprinklers and oxygen supply (being on a tanker there is always the risk of having to cross a sea in flames…).

Monday, November 22, 2010


First published May, 2007

Greta Kosan still inside the docks with the gate closed. Vessel not floating yet.
You get to the ship at the previously arranged time, taking into account the height of the tide due to the need of a decent under keel clearance only to be informed that a sea chest valve is leaking and it will take about 45 minutes to fix. No problem we are still inside the tidal window, why not go for a walk around the shipyard and take some pictures with the sophisticated photographic equipment I keep in my pocket (Nokia N70…).
After completion of the repair on the engine room I am finally called by the dockmaster and get to the bridge where I am received by the relieving captain, who is happily drilling holes on one of the bulkheads in order to place an electronic display, together with the person that should be doing that, the electronics technician… he tells me the other captain will be coming soon.

When the “other” captain gets to the bridge I give him the passage plan and explain the intended manoeuvre. Taking into account that the main engine is not working, two tugs will be used. By this time I have to ask the relieving captain to stop the drilling on the bridge as I can not communicate conveniently with the tugs and the people ashore with all that noise…
The dock gate is now opened, the aft tug is fast. I ask the captain to test the bowthruster only to be informed that it will not work unless we wait for another 45 minutes. As the shipyard had supplied the information that the thruster would be operative we have to pass two more lines ahead in order to control the bow when coming astern.

I go to the bridge wing with the two captains and I realize they are both worried that the dock is quite narrow for the ship’s breadth. Yes it is, but it was already when the vessel came inside, unless the ship got bigger or the dock narrowed (this is what I wanted to say but kept to myself)… In fact the ship is about 16,5 meters wide and the dock about 18 meters, so no problem we have already docked vessels with 17,8 m breadth (for those asking how is it possible for the shipyard to work on the side hull I must say that after passing the gate the dock widens about 1 meter).

Not too much available clearance, but what can you do?...

We decide not to wait for the bowthruster because now nobody knows when or if it will be ready so I start to move the vessel with the aft tug pulling slowly, when we are joined on the bridge by the company superintendent. And this is when the two masters begin to be really worried about the new paint job (the masters are from a Far East country, and, in the presence of their European company superintendent they tend to become uncomfortable, there is obviously a cultural matter that makes them fear that if something goes wrong their job will be at stake) … 

When I heard from one of the captains “it’s very close on this side, pilot” I had to answer “it’s very close on BOTH sides, captain…”. The superintendent laughs and goes on his business, giving the chance for the masters to relax a little bit. Unlike the docking procedure when we usually say to the more worried masters that if something goes wrong they are in the right place to repair, on the undocking manoeuvres, with the vessel looking brand new and everybody proud of that new paint work, there is always an extra anxiety on the bridge.

Drydocking or undocking is always a difficult task, particularly with a “dead” vessel and the wind blowing on the port quarter. But everything goes fine, no scratches, no indentations, we pull the vessel out, make fast the other tug on the bow, swing the vessel and go starboardside alongside on another berth (easier said than done…).

Monday, November 08, 2010

Pilot boarding

First published April 28, 2007

Boarding (or disembarking from) a vessel in the unprotected sea, sometimes without the chance for the vessel to make a lee, is always a risky situation. The pilot boat has to come alongside a moving ship and the pilot will have to climb that rope ladder, taking into consideration the swell that keeps the pilot boat going up and down while alongside and the natural ships motions (specially yawing, pitching and rolling).

There are of course safety procedures to be followed and mandatory rules to be met. These latter are explained in IMO Resolution A889/21 sect. 2, about positioning and construction of pilot ladders. Keep in mind that pilots are required to climb and descend numerous pilot ladders throughout a normal working day, so it is expected that those ladders meet some criteria on their design, otherwise it would be much more dangerous if, for some reason, pilots would meet different space between steps, for example…

In spite of all these regulations and procedures there are, every year, pilots that fall into the water, some with fatal results.

An important poster incorporating IMPA and IMO recommendations(CLICK TO ENLARGE)

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Old or classic?

First published March 28, 2007

Some old ships still have the beautiful brass shining all over the bridge. If well kept they become classic ships instead of old rust buckets. 
This beautiful magnetic compass belongs to "Kormoran" a small 40 years old (classic) vessel that brought the main engine for one of the Viana Shipyard newbuilding.
Check out these engine controls!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Gil Eannes

First published October 23, 2006

The hospital ship, Gil Eannes, was designed and built at the Estaleiros Navais de Viana do Castelo (Viana Shipyard) in 1955.

That year the ship began her duties of medical assistance to the cod fishing fleets of Portuguese and other countries on the Newfoundland and Greenland seas. The ship not only served as a hospital but also delivered mail, was used as a towboat and as an icebreaker, and even ensured the supply of provisions, nets, fishing gear, fuel, freshwater and bait for the cod fishing fleets.

From 1963 the ship’s duties changed and she began serving as a commercial vessel, as refrigerated transport, and even as a carrier of passengers between fishing sorties. She made her final trip to Newfoundland in 1973. That year she also made a goodwill mission as a “Portuguese Ambassador” to Brazil.

After that, Gil Eannes had no further use and was shifted from dock to dock in Lisbon harbour until she was finally sold for scrap in 1997.

Stirred by the inglorious fate of such an emblematic hospital ship, the community of Viana do Castelo decided to bring her back to her birthplace, rescuing her from the scrapyard, and, after major repairs at Viana Yard, she was permanently berthed in the old docks of Viana as a reminder of the maritime past of the city.

She is now the property of the Gil Eannes Foundation, composed of several organizations in Viana do Castelo, including Viana Pilots which provided free pilotage services since the arrival for repairs, drydocking, several shifting and finally the last berthing.

She is open to the public for guided visits, she has a restaurant, a museum, a youth hotel and several other facilities.

LOA: 98.45 m

Breadth: 13.7 m
DWT: 2600 t

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Stella Polaris

First Published September 11, 2006

I disembarked from “Fayal Cement” after passing abreast of the fairway buoy and proceeded to “Stella Polaris”. She was coming from the North and I could not see her until we were at about 5 cables due to the fog, although I was tracking her through the pilot boat radar.
I boarded the vessel and recognized the captain from previous voyages. I presented him the pilotage passage plan and he explained me the vessel’s characteristics. We didn’t loose too much time with this as I already know the vessel and the captain already knows the port, so I just draw his attention to the prevailing port conditions, like the expected traffic, wind and tidal current, under keel clearance, and how I was planning to take the vessel alongside.
By the time we were at about 2 cables from the breakwaters the visibility improved a lot and as the captain is familiar with the passage I just told him to steer in the middle of the channel.
On the last pair of buoys I took the con and started positioning the vessel in order to go starboard side alongside. I ordered slow astern to take some speed off and used the bow thruster half speed to starboard to approach the bow and pass a spring line ashore. The combined effect of the side thrust of the propeller (acting like right handed) and the tidal current on the starboard quarter started swinging the vessel across the river making an angle to the berth that would make it impossible to bring the stern alongside.
I immediately decided to go for an alternative manoeuvre that I use when the current is astern (which I had underestimated because it was a neap tide). I ordered hard to port the wheel, bow thruster full to port, and gave a kick ahead in order to swing the vessel rapidly to port, to put the tidal current on the port quarter. Once I had the current on the port quarter I started coming astern to the berth, steering with the bow thruster. With the vessel making the proper angle with the river the tidal current acts like a “silent tug”, helping to berth the vessel. Also, when the vessel is going astern the pivot point also moves astern enhancing the effect of the bow thruster. In this way I just had to approach the stern of the vessel to pass a sternline and then, using the bow thruster, paralleled the berth.
I enjoy this kind of manoeuvre (as long as the bow thruster has enough power to compensate the side thrust effect of the propeller) because you take full use of the bow thruster and always have the possibility to correct the positioning of the aft section by giving a kick ahead with the rudder full to either side. Nevertheless most captains feel uncomfortable with this “going astern” to the berth, whether because not used to it or not trained to do it. In this particular case, we had already done it so it was not a surprise to the captain, which knows we can’t swing and go portside alongside on this berth.
Naturally I could have used the tug boat that was standing by (compulsory for tankers), but that wouldn’t be half the fun…
After the vessel was safely moored with 3 headlines and 2 springlines forward and 3 sternlines and 2 springlines aft I disembarked to the pilot boat and went back to the pilot station to finish the paperwork and prepare the next manoeuvre.

Monday, May 24, 2010


FAR SAMSON-Ship of the year 2009

“The most powerful offshore vessel ever built – Far Samson – which was designed by Rolls-Royce and built by STX Europe for Farstad Shipping in Norway, will receive Offshore Support Journal’s ‘Ship of the Year 2009’ award.
Rolls-Royce developed the design of the UT 761 CD working closely with Farstad to meet the terms of a long-term charter contract. Far Samson, which was formally named and delivered in March, has demonstrated a continuous bollard pull of 423 tonnes using all available power and more than 377 tonnes using her main propulsion system.
Apart from its world record-breaking bollard pull, Far Samson is an innovative vessel in many respects, and incorporates a wide range of new technology.
It is a truly multifunctional offshore vessel and is capable of carrying out heavy ploughing operations for pipes and cables on the seabed, as well as subsea installation work in ultra-deepwater, along with towing, deploying ROVs and conducting a range of subsea operations. The vessel can cut trenches in the seabed in water up to 1,000m deep.”
From Farstad Shipping Web Site ""

Awarded by: Ships Review, Norway and Offshore Support Journal-UK, HEYERDAHL Environmental, Norwegian Ship Owners Association.

Please se bellow the main features of this state of the art offshore vessel, I apologise by the long list but just reading it we have a full picture of how mighty the vessel is.

Built / Yard

2009/ STX Offshore Norway, Langsten /Y.No 704

Main Class +1A1, SF, E0, DK(+), Supply Vessel

Basic, Tug, COMF-V(3)C(3), Clean Design, DYNPOS-AUTRO


Loa / B.mld 121,5m / 26m

Draft (max) 8,5m + 0,97m Nozzle

Deadweight/GRT 6103mt (d=8,5m)/GRT 14740mt

Cargo Deck Area 1450m2

Deck Load 2300mt

Deck Strength 15mt/m2

Deck Crane 1 x SWL 250mt@14m

Main deck crane Active Heave Compensated max. work radius 36 m

1 x SWL 20mt@20m ROV support crane Active Heave Compensated

A-Frame 1 x SWL 315mt@seastate 4 active Heave Compensated

Moonpool1 of 7m x 7m

ROV Hangar 1

Helideck Yes

Fuel Oil 3400m3

Pot Water 1200m3

Drill Water/WB 5700m3

Main Engines

Hybrid propulsion system, Diesel mech. 4 x 6000 KW (4 x 8160 BHP) & Diesel electrical 4 x 2755 kW.

Total propulsion effect: 35900BHP on main propellers

Cathalytic Converters Yes

Bow/Stern Thrusters 1 x 2450BHP / 2 x 1632BHP

Azimuth Thruster 2 x 1800 KW forward,

1 x 1800 KW aft. Total 7344BHP

Bollard Pull 423mt

Speed (service/max) 13 knots/19 knots

Consumption 35mt/24 hrs - 105mt/24 hrs

Work Tow Drum 1 x 600mt - 2500m of 103 mm wire

Rope/reel storage1 x 3000m/103 mm wire or 2 x 1500m/103mm

Tow Pins 2 Max work Load = 400 metric ton

Shark Jaw 1 Max work Load = 800 metric ton

Stern Roller 6m x 4500m dia - MWL 1000mt

Accommodation 100 Persons










All the best, be safe and take care out there.

José Saraiva.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

New Pilot Boat "Roncador"

The new pilot boat "Roncador" (Port of Viana do Castelo) arrived the 14th at 0900 after a technical call at Leixões where her sister "Gilreu" was delivered. Built by the Portuguese shipyard ENP (Estaleiros Navais de Peniche) she will now be submitted to local inspections and register and is scheduled to start operating within the next few days.

More photos and boat details will be posted soon.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Abel Matutes, this afternoon

Abel Matutes being pulled from drydock (with propellers still not running) by tugboat Monte do Leça.
Vessel swinging towards South.
Vessel headed to port entrance, pilot boat Quebramar waiting for the Pilot.
Passing by Atlântida.
Close up view on the port bow. The colleague had the time to come to the port wing and wave at me...
Pilot boat approaching to pick the Pilot, vessel increasing speed, destination Vigo.

Abel Matutes, the largest vessel ever to be handled at Viana do Castelo:

LOA: 190,5m
GT: 31 259t

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Pilot and Captain on the bridge wing discussing the intended maneuvering.
Tugboat Monte S. Brás pulling on the center fairlead, tugboat Monte Xisto standing by.
Vessel clearing the dock, bow controlled with shore lines.
Vessel out, ready to shift to fitting out basin.

Molten Sulphur Tanker
LOA 170m
GT 16 454t
Built 2000 (Viana do Castelo hull 206)
Flag Marshall Islands

Wednesday, March 24, 2010