Author Archives: pauljackman

Installing a wind turbine

Installing a wind turbine

Adventure lifting tower

On our trips to the Rampion Windfarm construction site. We are able to witness the installation of wind turbines at various stages.  Pictured is MPI Adventure lifting a tower onto the base installed last year.

Placing a tower

MPI Adventure and the other wind turbine installation vessel MPI Discovery can carry a total of 8 turbines per load. Each load of the the Vesta turbines are loaded in Denmark, and the vessel then sails to the Rampion windfarm off Sussex. The towers are stacked either side of the vessel and can be easily seen stood up on deck. The blades are stacked horizontally behind the bridge and are a bit horder to see. The generator itself or nacelle are also on deck, but not visible.

Picking up Blade

Picking up Blade

Once in position, the vessel turns from a ship to a working platform by jacking up on its six legs. The process of assembing the 5 main components usually only take 24 hours. Once the tower is in position the nacelle is lifted on top. Lastly each of the the three blades are lifted from the stack using the specially designed cradle visible in the picture and each one bolted on. Once complete the vessel lowers itself back down to become a ship once more in order to move to the next location. Where the process starts again.

Share this
Facebooktwittergoogle_plus
Follow me
Facebooktwittergoogle_plus

A day out to an offshore wind farm on a boat called Defiance

This article was published in the new statesman about a trip to the windfarm. I have re-published it here with all credits to Christian Donlan and the New Statesman to see the full article with photos please follow this link

A day out to an offshore wind farm on a boat called Defiance

Exploring something beautiful and alien on the edge of Brighton.

By Christian Donlan

Nearby, the boats have names like Lady of the Lake and Skyedancer. Ours is called Defiance. It’s a small, businesslike craft with a bright orange hull, and it’s tethered to a little wooden jetty, dwarfed by the ghostly presence of a floating Chinese restaurant that wallows beside it, shuttered and missing a roof.

When we meet our captain, the name of his boat makes sense: self-contained and wry, there’s a sliver of defiance glinting within him too. “It’s kicking off early today,” he announces, gesturing to his chirping radio before taking us through the safety briefing.

He speaks with that indulgent tone mariners sometimes adopt when talking to their passengers – a pronounced gentleness, as if faced with a species that, while clearly inferior, is not without its charms. “If you decide you want to fall overboard, stay still and we’ll throw you something floaty,” he concludes after a minute or so.

Then we’re off, the engine sending out a single atomiser puff of sweet-smelling smoke.

The Rampion Offshore Wind Farm has been an obsession for my wife for the best part of a year. We’d read about it in the news and on Facebook – prolonged arguments for and against its existence, covering everything from the noise pollution of its construction to the impact on the local seabird population.

But when it started to rise on the horizon, dark shapes suddenly visible in the silvery distance from the bus into work each morning, we both discovered that we were in the “for” camp almost without our choosing. Here was something beautiful and alien on the edge of Brighton: pillars emerging from the sea while huge shadowy hulks – the rigs that would do the actual building work – seemed to hover magically above the water, shifting positions every few days.

We bought binoculars, and soon Sarah was downloading apps that allowed her to track local shipping. The rigs we saw each morning suddenly had names, the Pacific Orca and the MPI Discovery, and they were here out of Amsterdam. In photographs on the internet they appeared vast and weather-beaten, beautiful in a sombre, industrial way.

It was much harder to get a sense of the wind farm itself however: it still just looked like a few spars of metal coming out of the sea. There was no easy way of grasping the ambition and scale, no clear indicator that Rampion, when finished, will occupy an area of 72 square kilometres, or nearly three times the size of Manhattan Island.

Sarah wanted to get closer, which is how we found out about the Defiance, a diving boat for the most part, whose owner had suspected there might be enough interested locals to schedule the odd trip out to the farm. We bought tickets and, for a few weeks, my wife received wonderfully terse text messages from the captain, mainly about the weather, telling us of the fluctuating likelihood of making our journey any time soon.

A Sunday morning in late January turns out to be perfect: clear and cold with no clouds on the horizon. “You’re not going to get a better day than this,” says the captain as we leave the marina behind us. The water’s an oily mineral green, little white peaks bouncing away from the bow.

The construction looks close from the coast road, but it’s an hour’s journey – around eight miles – to the site itself, thick cords of froth tumbling and tangling in our wake as we pick up speed. Sarah’s giddy with happiness.

Forty minutes out and we suddenly realise that for the last few miles we’ve been entirely alone, Brighton disappearing into the yellow bloom of the horizon, leaving buoys as the only nearby landmarks, bobbing frantically as they pull against submerged tethers. It does not take much to leave the world behind, and in its place we grow quiet and introspective.

It’s cold this far out, and a slight breeze is picking up by the time windfarm platforms start to appear around us. They’re beautiful and stark: cylinders painted a bright yellow, topped with gantries and cranes. These platforms are the little stubs we can see from land, the bases for the turbines themselves. Out here, they already tower over us, but they’re still only ten to 15 per cent of their final height.

The scale is surprising, but so is the layout. From the coast it looks like a lone row of columns, placed at regular intervals, like nails sticking out of a piece of wood. Up close, we’re in the middle of a muddle of buildings appearing seemingly at random.

Ahead of us a much larger structure looms, the frame of a barn almost, or a climbing frame painted the same bright yellow as the platforms. “That’s the substation for this section of the farm,” says the captain, noting that a guard ship has been dispatched to follow us. “They must be so bored,” he says as the ship gets closer, its radar turning. “If they’re coming out for us it must be a slow day.” He laughs, and it strikes me briefly that Sarah and I might just be the idiot tourists in the first act of a disaster movie.

For the last few minutes we’ve been able to see a complex grey shadow on the horizon: “It’s the MPI Discovery,” gasps Sarah, starstruck. The Orca must be back in Amsterdam.

The Discovery grows bigger and bigger before us, losing none of its alien nature, its industrial surrealism, as we approach. It looks like a freighter, a mini-tower block at one end attached to a bright red hull – but that hull itself has been lifted out of the water by a series of thick metal legs that descend to the sea floor.

Soon we can see the sun reflecting from windows, thin lines of cabling stretching from cranes and pylons. At the stern is a giant propeller, lifted clear of the water and hanging in the morning air. The Discovery seems both weird and perfect: an improbable tool for the construction of an improbable project. I tend to think of otherworldly things as being insubstantial, ghostly and gossamer, but this vast ship, held out of the water and aloft on the horizon, is the most otherworldly thing I have ever seen.

On the way back home, the captain pulls out sea charts and obligingly answers our idiotic landlubber questions. He explains to me that the little names inked on his charts in a tiny, precise hand, belong to wrecks. Wreck diving is his main business, and there are hundreds of them in the channel, invisible wonders rusting on our doorstep.

We look over the names: The Minion, sunk under tow, an M Class Destroyer on its way to decommissioning. The Duke of Buccleugh, a cargo ship long-since salvaged for its silver, but still filled with boxes of china, just waiting down on the seabed. The Bessel, a favourite of the captain’s, 60 metres down and more: china again and tiny perfume bottles scattered around it. He’s held some of these bottles in his hands. He’s seen dolphins out here, and porpoises.

As the wind farm fades into the distance and Brighton reappears ahead of us, the captain brings tea and biscuits. Sarah blinks back tears, going over what she has seen in her head. We raise mugs to mouths and reflect on the fact that, despite all we’ve witnessed today, it’s not yet noon – and that the captain, this stark, intense, quietly generous man who lives his life in the liminal zone between the land and the watery depths, makes the best tea we have ever tasted.

Share this
Facebooktwittergoogle_plus
Follow me
Facebooktwittergoogle_plus

Alternative Air Source – New Guidelines

In Europe divers should be aware that there have been changes to European Standard EN250. This Standard concerns the manufacture of underwater breathing apparatus. The changes concern how alternate air sources are used.

As equipment manufactured under the requirements of the previous version of the standard will be around for many years, the implentation of these changes will be slow. However, divers should be aware of these changes and know when to implement some of the changes concerning the configuration of alternate air sources.

The main changes that will affect any regulators manufactured in accordance with the new (2014) version of the standard are as follows:

  • An octopus rig is not a preferred option if the depth is greater than 30m or the water temperature is less than 10°C, instead an alternative fully independent system is advised.
  • Regulator first stages which are not designed for cold water performance shall be marked with “>10°C”.
  • Regulator first stages may be marked with a lower working temperature if specified by the manufacturer.
  • Regulators first stages will be stamped with an “A” if they are compatible to be fitted with an alternate air source (octopus rig).

These changes will come into effect gradually as more regulators are manufactured according to the revised standard. If you have any questions on how you can use a particular regulator, you should approach the manufacturer for advice.

Share this
Facebooktwittergoogle_plus
Follow me
Facebooktwittergoogle_plus

Brighton Offshore MCZ

Overview

In January 2016 the area  located in the eastern English Channel, approximately 45km south of Selsey Bill, West Sussex has been designated the Brighton Offshore Marine Conservation Zone

Location

The area covering some 862sqKm stretches from Brighton to the West and the southerly edges touch onto the median line with French Waters.The actual position is the area bounded by the following coordinates:

  • 50 22.916N 0 17.895W (North East)
  • 50 13.162N 0 15.583W (South East)
  • 50 08.172N 0 52.990W (South West)
  • 50 19.239N 0 54.20W (North West)

Habitat

The seabed in the Brighton Offshore MCZ is predominantly coarse sands, gravel and shingle with areas of exposed bedrock and mixed sediments. There is a diverse range of species found living within the sediments. Hydroids, bryozoans and sponges occupy the boulders and cobbles, where hermit crabs and starfish also thrive. Burying animals such as worms, sea anemones, burrowing anemones, carpet shell clams, venus cockles and other bivalves live within the mixed sediments

Management

The purpose of the MCZ is to protect features of this habitat. Activities will continue in this area that maintain the current situation, but will be reviewed if a deteriation is recorded. Activities that harm the environment will be limited to allow the location to recover. Benthic trawling will almost certainly be restricted.

More Information

Defra – Brighton Offshore MCZ

Joint Nature Conservation Committee

JNCC/Defra Brighton Offshore Assessment Document

Share this
Facebooktwittergoogle_plus
Follow me
Facebooktwittergoogle_plus

TR Thomson

Position – 50 40.20N 0 05.53E

TR Thompson in port

TR Thompson in port

Circumstances of loss

Date of loss – 29 March 1918 sunk by torpedo from UB57

Voyage – Benisaf – Middlesborough with a cargo of iron

History

The TR Thompson was torpedoed by UB57. All but three of the 36 crew were lost in her sinking.

TR Thompson

TR Thompson

Specifications

Built – 1897 – Short Brothers, Sunderland

Owners – J. Westoll

Dimensions – 3538 tons 109m x 14m x 7m

Diving Information

The TR Thompson lies in a general depth of 30m and stands up to 14m. The wreck lies E/W with the bow to the east. She is upright but the stern is collapsing and the superstructure has collapsed. Wreck was identified in 1994 when the bell was recovered.

Share this
Facebooktwittergoogle_plus
Follow me
Facebooktwittergoogle_plus

Porthkerry

Position – 50 37.80N 0 18.76W

Circumstances of loss

Date of loss – 20 May1917 sunk by torpedo from UB40

Voyage – Portland – Sheerness with a cargo of coal

History

The Porthkerry was torpedoed by UB40 whilst picking up the crew of the SS Tycho which was also torpedoed by UB40. The engine struck in the boiler room causing the boilers to burst.

Specifications

Built – 1911 – J Crown & Sons, Sunderland

Owners – Porthcawl Steamship Co.

Dimensions – 1920 tons 85m x 12m x 5m

Diving Information

The Porthkerry lies in a general depth of 45m and stands 8m high.

Share this
Facebooktwittergoogle_plus
Follow me
Facebooktwittergoogle_plus

HMS Minion

Position – 50 38.65N 0 13.97W

HMS Minion

HMS Minion

Circumstances of loss

Date of loss – 11 October 1917 foundered

Voyage – Under tow to breakers in Germany

History

Discovered in 1974 but no recorded dive until 1982. Originally thought to be the wreck of an L Class destroyer and named as the Laforay. Later identified by the makers plate as the M Class Destroyer HMS Minion (1992).

Specifications

Built – 1915 – Thorneycroft & Co, Stockton-on-Tees

Owners – Royal Navy

Dimensions – 1025 tons 84m x 8m

Diving Information

The HMS Minion lies in a general depth of 54m and stands  8m from the seabed. She is upright with much of the bridge collapsed. Wreck lies NE/SW.

Share this
Facebooktwittergoogle_plus
Follow me
Facebooktwittergoogle_plus

Pagenturm

Position – 50 38.05N 0 13.02W

Pagenturm

Pagenturm

Circumstances of loss

Date of loss – 16 May 1917 sunk by torpedo by submarine UB40

Voyage – Sheerness – Barry with a cargo of military stores

History

The Pagenturm was torpedoed by UB40 on the starboard side by No 2 hold. 4 crew lost their lives in the explosion and the rest of the crew abandoned ship. The ship sank at 0730 just 80minutes after the torpedo struck.

Specifications

Built – 1909 – JC Tecklenborg AG.

Owners – Royal Navy

Dimensions – 5000 tons 122m x 16m x 8m

Diving Information

The Pagenturm lies on her starboard side in a general depth of 44m. The bow points to the North. The wreck stands almost 20m high with a deep scour on the east.

Share this
Facebooktwittergoogle_plus
Follow me
Facebooktwittergoogle_plus

Brighton Pollack Fishing Competition 2015

For the third year, I have taken part in the Brighton Pollack fishing competition sponsored by Daiwa. The competition this year took place on March 17th. For a change we were blessed with good weather which improved during the day, until we could sit in T-shirts in the sunshine.

Pollock fishing out in the shipping lanes

Pollock fishing out in the shipping lanes

This year we headed slightly East and started with a few drifts on the wreck of HMS Keryado. This was to break up the journey and get the rods all set up as everyone wanted. Just one pollack weighing about 5lbs was caught so we headed further out into the shipping lanes. A good few fish were caught up to about 8lbs. A final move resulted in catching a lot of Pouting.

A fair number of fish caught but not not large enough for a prize. So I will have to make do with the cup for the best cup of tea for the day.

Award for the Best Cup of Tea

Award for the Best Cup of Tea

The top prize for the largest pollack went to Alan Coombs at 16lb 12Oz. The junior prize went to Michael Parker who landed a 12lb pollack

Share this
Facebooktwittergoogle_plus
Follow me
Facebooktwittergoogle_plus

AIS now fitted

AIS Transponder on Defiance

AIS Transponder on Defiance

AIS on-board

Defiance has been fitted with an Automatic Identification System or AIS for short.  It is not compulsory for vessels to have AIS. Only larger vessels of 300 tons or more and passenger vessels are required to have it. AIS is an additional safety system on the boat and it has been fitted to improve the safety of passengers on-board.

Uses of AIS

The information can be used in several ways:

  1. Collision Avoidance
    The speed, direction and location of vessels close by can be used to calculate if they are on a collision course with you. AIS receivers have alarms to warn if there is a possible risk to enable early action to be taken. With divers in the water the identity of the approaching vessel can be used to directly call them to avoiding action. A great safety tool.
  2. Vessel Traffic Services, Fishing monitoring and control, Maritime Security
    Not very relevant to smaller craft but large vessels can be monitored and tracked through busy shipping areas.
  3. Aid to Navigation
    Ports, Buoys and other navigation aids such as lighthouses are often fitted with AIS transmitters to aid navigation. These positions will show up on plotters to help with navigation. It is possible for virtual transmissions to be sent to mark points that will show up on the ships plotter
  4. Search and Rescue
    Not only is the last position and data of a vessel recorded to help in search and rescue. The system also identifies ships in the area that can be used to assist in any emergency.
  5. Accident investigation
    The tracks of vessels leading up to a collision or other incident is vital to understanding the actions of the captains and a great help in accident investigation.

How does AIS Work?

The system contains three major parts linked into a box of tricks:

  1. A position location receiver such as a GPS receiver, Galileo or Loran
  2. A VHF Receiver to receive details from other vessels
  3. A VHF Transmitter to send details of the vessel

The system uses the GPS position of the vessel to calculate the speed and direction of the boat. This information is then broadcast by a VHF transmitter to other craft in the area. Likewise all other vessels transmit similar information. So the basic information gathered for all vessels is:

  • Identity including the unique Marine Mobile Identity Service Number (MMSI)
  • Time of message
  • Position sent as latitude and longditude
  • Speed and Heading
AIS track of Defiance during testing. Shown on Marine Traffic Website

AIS track of Defiance during testing. Shown on Marine Traffic Website

This information can be picked up and displayed for all to see. For example on Marine Traffic Website. Applications for moble phones as well as most modern chart plotters can display AIS information. Most systems have some type of display, but this is not actually necessary.

In addition to the basic information the name, size and destination along with much more information is possible.

This information is transmitted regularly by the boat usually every 30 seconds but more complex systems can alter this depending on speed. e.g. at anchor they will only transmit every 3 minutes but at high speed may transmit every 2 seconds, which is as fast as conventional Radar systems. These systems use a special system called SOTDMA ( Self-Organized Time Division Multiple Access) which books time slots when they will transmit data. Simpler systems use carrier-sense time-division multiple-access (CSTDMA) whereby they look for a free slot to transmit just before making their transmission.

AIS uses VHF channels 87B (161.975 MHz) and 88B (162.025 MHz). The Class A transmitters transmit at 12.5W which are the type used on large vessels. Class B transmitters are used on smaller craft and transmit at 2W meaning they can broadcast their information between 5-10 miles. Large vessels are required to have some type of visual display on board, but this is not true for Class B transmitters.

 

 

Share this
Facebooktwittergoogle_plus
Follow me
Facebooktwittergoogle_plus