Deep Holes And Echo’s From The Past
I was sitting on deck the other morning when I spotted what looked like a giant oil rig moving across the bay.
It turned out to be ‘Atwood Advantage’ one of the worlds biggest deep sea drilling ships.
She was heading for the commercial port of Escombreras just outside Cartagena harbour.
Escombreras is home to a huge oil, gas and chemical complex tucked away behind the hill to the South East of us.
The stats of this vessel are mind boggling.
780ft (238m) length, 138ft (42m) beam, 70,423 tons. 200 crew. Her drilling rig towers 275ft (84m) above the water.
What’s truly mind-boggling though is what she can do.
She can operate in 12,000 ft (3657m) of water and drill 40,000 ft (12,192m) into the seabed. Those numbers are difficult for most of us to visualise. Even seven and a half miles / twelve kilometres isn’t easy to picture.
Try this instead. Next time you look skywards chances are you’ll see the vapour trail of a passenger jet way above you. That jet is likely flying a little lower than ‘Atwood Advantage’ can drill.
She’s spent the last six months or so working off the coast of Israel drilling an exploratory well in the recently discovered Leviathan gas field. For obvious reasons, Israel is keen to have an energy supply independent of their immediate neighbours. Billions of dollars are being poured into the project. Someone is watching the purse-string though.
‘Atwood Advantage’ is here because she’s had her contract terminated. Apparently, because the customer had found someone who could do the job cheaper.
Noble Energy, the ship’s owner, were reputedly charging $581,000 per day for her services. That’s some contract to lose eh?
I’m guessing she’s now sitting in Escobreras waiting for her next job. So if you need a hole drilled underwater get in touch. They might be up for a deal.
I took the photo below on a particularly busy day in the harbour. Cruise ship ‘Royal Princess’ to the left with ‘Seabourn Encore’ behind her. ‘Thompson Majesty’ is to the right.
Even though she’s docked a couple of kilometres away there’s no missing ‘Atwood Advantage’ in the distance. At night her rig is lit up like a Christmas tree complete with a red star on top.
‘Gleda’ is moored just out of shot right down in the bottom left hand corner of the photo.
It’s not often that the Royal Navy come into Cartagena. Last year we saw H.M.S. Ocean. This week it was the much smaller multi-role survey vessel H.M.S. Echo.
She’s been out in the Eastern Med working as part of the European migrant-crisis mission.
It’s fair to say that ‘Echo’ has seen her fair share of action.
She was commissioned in 2003 having been built at Appledore Shipbuilders in Bideford down in the South West U.K.
In 2007 two of her crew were injured when an electrical fire broke out aboard. They had to be winched off by helicopter. She lost power and had to be towed into Devonport.
During 2010/11 she completed a 19-month deployment in which she sailed 74,000 miles (120,000km). She was away from her home port of Plymouth for 593 days, 421 of them at sea.
She’s also done a lot of work off the coast of Somalia. When anti-piracy operations first started in the Indian Ocean they discovered a problem. They found that the charts of these waters were old and inadequate. ‘Echo’ carried out many surveys to fill in the gaps. The information she gathered was fed back to the UK Hydrographic Office in Taunton. This allowed its cartographers to produce up-to-date charts. Whilst there she even sank a pirate vessel with one of her two 20mm cannons.
In early 2014 she was on another 18-month hydrographic survey deployment. Whilst in the Persian Gulf she was told to head down to the Indian Ocean. She was needed to help with the search for Malaysian Airlines flight MH370. ‘Echo’ spent 3 months trying to find a signal from the ‘black box’ without success. The captain of ‘Echo’ said it was one of the hardest missions they’d ever completed.
By December of that year, she was back in Falmouth. I snapped this picture of her on a cold wet miserable day. It was taken from the National Maritime Museum cafe. Gail and I were there taking advantage of the warmth and free wifi as we had neither aboard ‘Gleda’!
Who could have imagined that the next time we saw her it would be in the hot sunshine of Cartagena?
There was another echo of more recent past a few days later.
Again I was on deck watching the comings and goings when I saw the masts of another Wharram Tiki 38 coming into the marina. There’s no mistaking them. There aren’t many schooners around with the two short raked masts of a 38.
She turned out to be ‘Mata Manawi’. We saw her on the Rio Guadiana as we were leaving almost exactly a year ago. Then owned by a German couple she’s been sold and was on a delivery trip from Faro in Portugal to Barcelona.
As you can see from the photo the pod has been quite heavily modified and covers the hull companionways. What you can’t see is that she has a single engine. It’s mounted centrally in a well and has a short shaft to the prop.
At sea, it works well. In a marina, it’s next to useless. With no room to get the necessary speed for the rudders to work it was impossible for the skipper to manoeuvre. When they left she had to have her bows pulled round by the marina RIB.
I’m so glad I stuck to the plans and have those two 9.8hp Tohatsu’s aboard ‘Gleda’.
‘Mata Manawi’ is a nice boat but in need of some TLC. I’m sure the new owner will give her just that.
Next week my daughter and her boyfriend are visiting us. I’m very much looking forward to that.
You never know, we might even go sailing. I didn’t tell you that we sneaked out the other week did I?
I’ll leave you with these.