Thursday, December 22, 2011

Offshore Installation of Xmas Trees

And so I mentioned going to offshore training for my birthday! Really, getting overturned in a sinking helicopter and trying to breathe using a BA (breathing apparatus) wasn't on my birthday to do list this year. Although technically since i'm an excellent swimmer I didn't really freak out for the helicopter exercise but I did freak out when during the 3meter jump exercise. I hate heights! But it had to be done because my BOSET certificate had expired and I needed the certificate to go offshore. In conjunction with Christmas coming around the corner, we are going to be installing Xmas Trees offshore!

Never thought I would don my Sakhalin safety boots ever again. I used to wear these boots everywhere during my Sakhalin days and they are much more comfortable than those office issued safety boots, despite it being high cut and winter rated!
Arrived in Labuan a few days before we were due to sailaway. I was stationed at the fabrication yard but let's skip that part and get straight to the interesting bit.

Our vessel. Havila Harmony.
This wasn't my first trip offshore. But this trip was certainly the longest i've been offshore! Also, my previous offshore experience was with a much smaller boat. The Havila Harmony is definitely bigger. It has 7 floors with the deck on the 4th floor and the bridge on the 7th. Also interesting to note that I boarded HH not from the dock but in deeper waters, hence had to climb a make-shift rope ladder. Thank god the crew helped me with my luggage. Can't imagine transfering from the water taxi to the vessel via a rope ladder with luggage in tow!

Although the HH is a bigger vessel, I was quite surprised with the size of the room they put us in. With the previous (smaller) boat, I was actually given the captain's room (since I was the only lady onboard) but this time I was given one of the smaller rooms. Some of the people I travelled with even got rooms with a TV in it, but my room was so small that even when my friend (cum roommate) Maya and I stood facing each other in the space between the cupboards and the beds, it felt extremely cramped!
The bunk beds. Initially we agreed she would use the lower bunk for the first few days then I would move down for the last few days. Unfortunately Maya had a bout of food poisoning the whole trip so I didn't have the heart to tell her to climb up. And don't underestimate the effort it took to climb up the bunk bed when yours truly had a growing ganglion on the left hand!
The very small cupboards. I didn't even bother unpacking, just laid my bag flat on the floor and took clothes straight out from the bag. Didn't help with the lack of floor space, though!

On the way to the installation site, we had a muster drill. Everyone was asked to muster at their respective muster point wearing their life jackets to familliarize themselves in case of emergency.
I have always been quite prone to being seasick. And my last trip offshore wasn't that pleasant. I woke up in the middle of the night and found the boat rocking roughly sideways. Got out of bed only to be thrown to the wall from the impact of the waves. Managed to get to the toilet and puked, crawled back to bed and when I woke up the next morning we were on calmer waters on the way back to shore. They aborted the trip due to the weather!

Again this time, I chose the worse time ever to be offshore. It was the monsoon season and when we arrived to the installation site, the waves were ridiculous (more than 2.4meters)! Turning back to shore wasn't a feasible choice as we had a drilling rig on standby waiting for us to complete installation, and most of the crew wanted to get the installation done to be able to catch the plane home for Christmas.

Although the significant wave height was within the workability threshold of the vessel, decision was made to standby as we could not do lifting operations with the wind speeds we were experiencing. The high wind speeds not only created excessive movement on the vessel, it also prevented the usage of cranes - if we were to proceed there was a high risk that the jumpers would swing and crash into other equipment on deck. So, we waited. And waited (while I pacified myself by calculating the amount of offshore allowance I would make from the trip). 

The long walkways within the vessel. This one heads to the medic office as I wanted to get my dose of seasick pills.
The laundry room. Vessel crew were all men so I did not feel comfortable sending my underwear to them to be washed! 
While we waited for the weather to ease, we checked the jumpers, equipment and observed torque measurement checks. We had a total of two subsea jumpers and one christmas tree to be installed. The two yellow bell shaped structures are the jumpers while the yellow box on the right is the tree.

Subsea jumpers and christmas trees.
Remotely Operated Underwater Vehicle (ROV)
Check out the ROV arm!
This is where we would monitor the ROV cameras.
Unfortunately for Maya, the combination of food poisoning and being seasick drove her to remain in bed most of the days. I, on the other hand - discovered that I could keep my seasick at bay by making sure that my tummy is always full. And food definitely wasn't a problem when you're offshore!
Two or threee different main dishes per meal, not to mention the numerous types of delicious desserts!

The mess hall.

The roast beef with black pepper sauce was to die for! I shamelessly had second helpings!
On some days, it just wasn't conducive to do any work at all. I would just sit in the office, catch up on emails, use the satellite phone to call home, watch movies on the TV in the office - or pop seasick pills and crawl into bed. On bad days, most of the crew would stay in their bunks. On those days I would feel seasick just from walking from the room to the mess hall!

Our office.
Finally, we found a day where the weather was a tad bit acceptable and we started with the installations! We kicked off at about midnight and worked around the clock until everything was successfully installed. I'll skip the specifics of it, but in a nutshell its basically lifting the giant structure using a crane, bring if overboard while carefully balancing it to make sure you don't overstress the structure, submerge it in water and place it to its final installation location subsea using the ROV camera and its arm to aid the limited view and access.

We monitored everything from the bridge on the 7th floor.

Beautiful sunrise!

The drilling rig that was on standby while we conducted the installation.
Watching the submersible ROV coming up. Took about 5minutes for the ROV to get to the surface - just to give you a feel on how deep the installation site was!

Last checks and post installation survey.
And finally we were on our way home! I was soooo looking forward to seeing Aiden and Hubby. Honestly, I do not like being offshore. I salute all mothers who are able to be apart from their kids to be offshore. But this is not something I would want to do full time. Periodic offshore visits are probably fine, although more often than not I would probably find lots of excuses not to go. *grin*

The helideck. It was early morning and I was in the middle of nowhere. But it was quite soothing - away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Yours truly. Last picture before we arrived onshore.
Docking at the quayside.
At last, we arrived at the quayside. Maya and I literally jumped up and down as soon as we saw land. *so embarrassing!* Checked into the hotel for a short overnight stay to catch the first flight out to KL the next day. Interestingly, after bring offshore for so long, it took me more than two days to get over the feeling of "swaying", albeit being on stable dry land!

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