IThis news is taken directly from the official Tristan da Cunha website, www.tristandc.com and we would like to thank them for the use of this information.
Oil Platform Turns Turtle…….updated 30th January ….
Released in mid-Atlantic on 30th April, lost on 16th May, sighted briefly on 23rd May, and found by Tristan Islanders on 7th June – the largest vessel ever to have foundered in Tristan waters is still firmly on the Trypot Reef …a first salvage attempt failed …… winter storms have battered the damaged the rig …….. now a new salvage mission is underway ……….aiming to consign Turtle to the ocean deep ….read on for the latest details of this dramatic South Atlantic saga…read the whole story from the top…or visit www.tristandc.com for the latest news
… over nine months after being fatefully cut adrift Oil Production Platform A Turtle
ran aground on the reef off Trypot Bay SE Coast of Tristan da Cunha June 2006.
With 21st Century communications -
how can a huge (104 x 103 metre x13 metre draft x 6357 tonnes) oil platform
get lost in the South Atlantic Ocean
and threaten one of the world’s most precious environments?
Salvage Team on its way from Cape Town – Friday 16th June
A salvage team from SMIT Salvage, under the leadership of Salvage Master Captain Ian Carrasco, left Cape Town on Friday 16th June destined for Tristan da Cunha with the aim of solving the challenging problem of the grounded PXX1.
A reassuring message received from the company is optimistic in its style :
‘ We can assure you that our team is comprised of experienced professionals who are motivated by the prospect of a challenge and look forward to working and communicating with locals in an open and transparent manner. Please be aware that we run all of our operations with due care for personnel safety, operational safety, environmental protection and live and work by the slogan ‘ “Do it right- first time”.’ Salvage Team’s Rough Journey West – Tuesday 20th June
The salvage team aboard tug ST ‘Zouros Hellas’ captained by Salvage Master Ian Carrasco have reported a delayed passage to Tristan da Cunha due to high seas. The crew have been suffering sea-sickness and the estimated arrival time at the Edinburgh anchorage is now 18.00 GMT on Thursday 22nd June.
The team will have room for two Islanders with local knowledge of the Trypot Bay site of the stricken oil platform ‘A Turtle’, and will proceed to this site as soon as formalities are cleared with the Tristan Government Administration. Salvage Tug ST Zouros Hellas
The tug is 1487 gross tonnes & 66.7 metres long. Its two engines can produce 10,000 BHP and it has a maximum speed of 15 knots, and a service speed of 11 knots. It has accommodation for 27 officers and crew. The tug carries several towing wires up to 1800 metres long and with a gauge of 26 or 32 mm.Rescue Mission Underway
ST Zouros Hellas arrived at 16.30 GMT on Thursday 22nd June at the Tristan anchorage, passing MV Edinburgh en route to Cape Town. The salvage team came ashore for a planning meeting. It was decided to travel to Trypot Bay to reconnoitre the site, including looking at anchorage positions taking depth soundings. They plan to take the tug in close enough to the rig to attach lines to it and then work from there.
A team of Islanders was headed by Police Inspector Conrad Glass, and Natural Resources Officer James Glass, accompanied by Mark Swain, John Lavarello and Martin Green. John and Martin are fishermen with local knowledge of the Trypot reef gained from setting crawfish pots over the years. The party departed in the small police RIB, with James Glass travelling on the tug. All the Islanders returned in the RIB. Rig Inspection Complete – calculations to re-float underway
Poor weather between Saturday 24th June and Monday 26th June prevented Islanders joining the rescue team aboard the tug Zouros Hellas. Radio reports indicated that the team have completed their rig inspection and were calculating whether the rig could be successfully re-floated.
On Tuesday 27th a RIB has set off from Calshot Harbour crewed by Neil Swain, Jack Green, Martin Green and John Lavarello. Report from Salvage Master Ian Carrasco received Tuesday 27th June
The rig has been inspected and it is believed that it can be floated off. The salvage team have been getting systems (compressor and emergency generator) running on board the rig. The Naval Architect is doing the necessary calculations to see what can be done to float the rig. It was discovered that one of the columns on the starboard side was flooded. Three columns on the starboard side aft are permanently aground, all other pontoons  have floatation. Soundings have been taken to the seaward of the rig in preparation for removal. Thursday 29th June – 1st Flotation Attempt Fails – report from the salvors
The weather improved and at 08.40 the tug positioned herself close to the rig. The rubber boat was launched at 09.10 to pick up the floating line on the towing pennant of the rig and hand it to the tug. The tug anchored at 09.15 and preparations were made in the morning until using various power settings either side of high water at 15.00 in an effort to re-float A-Turtle. Although there was a lot of shaking in the rig, she did not move one cm. During the towing, the salvage team worked on the rig to replenish some fuel for the navigation lights generator and the emergency set. The re-floating effort was stopped at 17.00 and the tug retrieved her anchor at 17.30 as the wind and sea had increased again. Following the failure of Salvage Tug ST Zouros Hellas to free the stricken rig, a decision has been made to mobilise a second tug to help free A Turtle from the Trypot reef. Saturday 1st July An attempt was made to get aboard the rig A Turtle but the swell was too big to gain safe access. Sunday 2nd July
The salvage team expected to carry out a dive inspection on the starboard side pontoon but dive conditions (swell and visibility) were not suitable. Also found that two ballast tank on the starboard side are flooded having been penetrated from the outside. They are preparing to place pumps on board to see if they can reduce the quantity of ballast water on board through pumping or air pressurisation. This will take a few days to set up in preparation for when the second tug arrives. Monday 3rd July – News from Salvage Master Ian Carrasco
Conditions at the Rig in Tripod Bay were again suitable for gaining access today. The salvage team is at present fabricating flanges for air connections for pressurizing the tanks that are tidal. [Open to the sea] In addition electric pumps and hoses have been positioned in the starboard pump room in an attempt to lower the level of water, and create more buoyancy when it comes time to re-float the rig. Approximately 100 tons of water was pumped out of the starboard centre column in 2.5 hours today. Soundings taken today indicate that the port [seaward side of rig] ballast tanks are intact. [not open to the sea] Status of the rig remains unchanged since the previous inspection, although the rig is still being subjected to heavy bottom contact on the port side, with resultant shuddering. Tuesday 4th July – News from Salvage Master Ian Carrasco
The salvage team did not manage to gain access to the Rig this morning due to the prevailing onshore winds and unsettled sea conditions.
The second tug, Fairmont Sherpa, is now scheduled to leave Cape Town during the morning of Wednesday 5th July, ETA Tristan Monday 10th or Tuesday 11th July. The tug has a capacity of some 200 tons bollard pull. It is now calculated, that, in tandem with ST Zouros Hellas, it should provide enough power to re-float the Rig. Friday 7th July – Edited news bulletin from Salvage Master Ian Carrasco
Very strong north-west winds and rough seas have prevented access to the rig this morning and the forecast is poor for the weekend ahead.
Plans for the dispatch of a second tug from Cape town have been changed and delayed. It is understood that the tug ‘Sea Tiger’ is due to depart on Saturday 8th July, ETA Tristan da Cunha Thursday 13th or Friday 14th July.Monday 10th July – Edited news bulletin from Salvage Master Ian Carrasco
Strong winds over the weekend have continued to prevent access to A Turtle, and today there are strong South West winds and heavy seas. It is thought seas will moderate tomorrow, meanwhile the tug Zouros Hellas has anchored at the Tristan Settlement anchorage and some of the crew are spending a few hours ashore.
The tug Sea Tiger’s departure from Cape Town has been further delayed.Tuesday 11th July – Edited news bulletin from Salvage Master Ian Carrasco
The salvage team was not able to board the Rig again this morning due to a large SW swell and unsettled sea conditions, which makes it unsafe for them to board by R.I.B.
Yesterday afternoon the Tug “Sea Tiger” was ready to leave Cape Town for Tristan when she encountered technical problems in the engine room, and was not able to depart. We are awaiting confirmation as to the extent of the damage and time frame necessary for her to complete the repairs. In the meantime the Owners/Underwriters of the Rig “A Turtle” are looking at other alternatives.
At present we are anchored off the Settlement seeking shelter from the South Westerly swell.Wednesday 12th July -
Rescue mission encounters further problems :
A Turtle further damaged by storms – search for 2nd tug continues -
Latest Edited News from Salvage Master Ian Carrasco (Corrected 14th July)
The salvage team managed to board the Rig today to carry out an inspection, and continue with efforts in preparation for the second pull attempt. As a result of the low pressure frontal system that passed through the Island over the last few days, further damage has been noted on board the Rig:
No 2 column on the starboard side is letting in water through several cracks
No 4 & 5 SB ballast tanks on the starboard side are breached and letting in water
The rig is now listing 2.5 degrees to port. [ Previously 2 degrees ]
Our Naval Architect is re-evaluating the situation on board the Rig, which should be complete by tomorrow with recommendations. The salvage team has been making steady progress on board. Drainage of compartments continues, and we expect to carry out a dive inspection on the Rig when conditions are suitable.
No confirmation has been received to date on the availability of the second Tug, now that Sea Tiger is not available, and the Rig Owners are looking at the possibility of using a tug working out of Cameroon – West Africa , which may be available from 13th July. Thursday 13th July
Latest Edited News from Salvage Master Ian Carrasco
The salvage team managed to board the Rig today to carry out an inspection, and continue with efforts in preparation for the second pull attempt. During the inspection a further ballast tank on the inboard starboard pontoon was found to be tidal, 2 m of water was found in the pump-room on inner starboard side, and efforts to pump water from flooded columns and ballast tanks continue. No further news of a 2nd tug being booked to assist. During dives it was confirmed that the rig remained in its original position when it went aground on the Trypot reef, and this contradicts a report, received on 12th July and based on GPS, that the rig had moved 27 metres towards the shore. That report has now been erased. Saturday 15th July
Latest Edited News from Salvage Master Ian Carrasco
The salvage team boarded the rig and the inspection revealed details of breaches to columns and build up of black volcanic sand. The rig was ballasted today on the port side pontoon to secure it on the sea bed in anticipation of bad weather approaching.
Sunday 16th July
Latest Edited News from Salvage Master Ian Carrasco
The salvage team, pumping columns to allow inspection, and ballasting tanks to prevent anticipated storms moving the rig. Monday 17th July
Latest Edited News from Salvage Master Ian Carrasco
The salvage team were not able to gain access to the rig today due to unfavourable weather conditions. There is no further news on the passage of a second tug, following problems with Sea Tiger’s sea worthiness a week ago, and attempts to book another tug on 12th July. Wednesday 19th July
Report from Tristan Administrator Mike Hentley
Captain Ian Carrasco came ashore yesterday as they were sending a crew member back to Cape Town on the Kelso (which sailed on Tuesday evening) on end of contract. He and his team have succeeded in stabilising the rig so that, once refloated, it will be seaworthy enough to make it to a dockyard for the full repairs needed. But the company have yet to complete arrangements to charter the second tug needed to refloat it and take it safely and securely under tow. Warren Glass of Natural Resources Department will join the salvage team environmental officer to ensure that all of our conservation interests are being met, and the Island Store is providing additional supplies for the crew as their stay here has been longer than initially planned! Thursday 20th July – Thursday 27th July
Latest Edited News from Salvage Master Ian Carrasco
Warren Glass joined the vessel on 20th July, and stores from the Island Store were taken aboard. Poor weather continued to prevent access for this period. No further news of a second tug being secured to assist in re-floating the rig. Friday 28th July – 42nd day of Zouros Hellas’ rescue mission
Salvage Mission postponed for better weather and a more powerful tug
Latest Edited News revised on 1st August
Heavy weather conditions off Tristan da Cunha continue as forecast. A decision has been taken to postpone attempts to re-float the oil rig A Turtle until winter weather has moderated, so Zouros Hellas has now returned to Cape Town. The salvors will await favourable conditions and the availability of suitably powerful tug (s). This is unlikely to be until September at the earliest. The Insurance Company have advised Tristan that they are reputable, are not abandoning their responsibilities but are merely deferring the operation until later in the year in the difficult circumstances.August 2006 – Tristan waits for news
Tristan da Cunha awaits the return of the salvors when a tug (s) of sufficient pull (200 tonnes +) become available. We learn that all are presently on long-term charter, but that 3 will become available in the second half of September, so that a float attempt is not now likely until early October, weather permitting.
The salvors have thanked the Islanders for their support and assistance during the attempted salvage operation. They have also assured the community that the rig only contains small quantities of pollutants, all safely contained on the upper decks of the rig, 15 metres above the waterline. The emergency generator on the second deck contains some 600 litres of gas oil, contained in a tank in the generator compartment. Most other oils and lubricants are contained in 25 litre containers and 210 litre drums.
Islanders have been warned to stay away from the rig, as it is nearly 40 years old, badly corroded, and poses a large safety risk to any personnel on board.The rig was being towed to Singapore for repair and refurbishment. Meanwhile, winter seas continue to batter the stricken rig, which is directly offshore the Trypot Rockhopper Penguin Rookery to which breeding pairs are now claiming nest sites ready for egg laying in September.Despite assurances from optimistic salvors, there must be a concern that the rig could break up to an extent that a salvage operation ( to its planned destination of Singapore for repairs ) will not be worth the expense, given the original state of the rig and subsequent damage. Dives to make environmental assessment – report updated on 25th September
Divers Sue Scott and Geoffrey Fridjohn arrived on the SA Agulhas to carry out dives from the stranded oil rig to make an assessment of any alien marine life it might have brought into Tristan waters. Sue and Geoffrey have made previous studies of the Tristan marine habitat and tristandc.com awaits their findings with interest. Sue Scott is preparing a publication on the Tristan marine ecosystem and it is hoped an illustrated article will appear in the January 2007 Tristan Newsletter.
James Glass, Tristan Head of natural resources reports on 25th September that due to extremely bad weather only two dives have been carried out since their arrival. The first attempt to dive at the rig lasted only ten minutes due to heavy swell, the second, which occurred the next day (22nd September) was more successful lasting 55 minutes, and involved collecting specimens, and taking photos. In the better conditions of lighter swell and slightly improved visibility, they were able to examine the outer legs on the seaward side of the rig. The upright parts of the rig legs were coated with large quantities of dead coral, barnacle and oyster shells, while the horizontal sections had less coral but more oyster and other bivalve shells, amongst them were some live animals. Many of the barnacles (at least three species) at depth were alive, as were some oysters, a few small hard corals, a few large mussels, large dark red anemones, all of which are non-native to Tristan. Collections of all the living biota were made, and will be process in the next few days. The weather has since turn nasty but every opportunity will be taken to carry out more dives at the rig as soon as the weather improves.28th November 2006 A Turtle’s last rights : confined to the deep
tristandc.com can reveal that the Governor of St Helena and its dependency Tristan da Cunha has issued a permit under the Environmental Protection (Overseas Territories) Order 1988, for the stranded rig to be disposed of at sea, with due regard to meeting environmental concerns. We now expect a suitably experienced contractor to be appointed to undertake the job of removing the rig as soon as possible. Work could begin as early as mid-December. It may be that the Kelso will be chartered to support the salvage work. If so, the Edinburgh will probably replace the MV Kelso on the first New Year scheduled sailing between Tristan & Cape Town. 30th November : Oil Rig in perspective
This photograph was taken during the St Andrew’s Day circumnavigation of Tristan by HMS Edinburgh by Janice Hentley. It shows the grassy slopes of Tristan’s eastern extremity at Sandy Point, the Oil Rig still stranded of Trypot Bay, the rugged lava peninsular of Stony Hill protruding behind, and to the South West the jagged Nightingale Island. HMS Edinburgh’s helicopter also provided access to the rig for a survey team and we await their report and hopefully some spectacular photographs. 30th November : Swiss Oil Rig Newspaper Article
Zurich based newspaper Tages-Anzeiger has today published an article by journalist Christian Schmidt on the stranding of the oil rig “A Turtle” on the shores of Tristan da Cunha. The can be translated as : “An oil rig in a sea of silence”.tristandc.com and the Tristan Administration provided information for the story, and the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office have also provided a ‘Press Lines’ briefing containing questions and answers which are reproduced below. The January Tristan da Cunha Newsletter will feature a detailed feature on the oil rig saga, hopefully confirming its removal from Trypot’s shores. 11th December : Salvage Team Appointed to start work this month
A contract for the salvage of the oil rig was awarded to Titan Maritime of Fort Lauderdale, USA on 6th December. Their team of salvage workers will sail from Cape Town in two parties and will arrive over the Christmas period. Their aim will be to carry out the work as quickly as possible. A contract for an environmental inspection will be signed shortly. 14th December 2006
tristandc.com has learnt that a chartered plane will fly from Stansted Airport in England to Cape Town on 18th December with specialist equipment to be shipped to Tristan da Cunha to aid the efforts to remove the stranded oil rig from Trypot Reef. 26th December 2006
MV Kelso arrived on Friday 22nd December with the advance salvage party plus the environmental team who will be completing the marine survey which Sue Scott started during her September visit. The salvage work to prepare the rig for floating began on 23rd December and will take an estimated three weeks. 30th December 2006 The Titan salvage team have been working on the oil rig from MV Kelso all week in sometimes difficult conditions with strong winds and heavy sea swell. The environmental dive team (Warwick Sauer, Brian Godfrey & Ross Wanless) have also been assisting.The 3180 tonne salvage tug De Hong, built in 2000 in China, chartered by salvors Titan and sailed from Cape Town on Christmas Eve, Sunday 24th December, and arrived at Tristan on Friday 29th December. Captain Lu and his crew then took Towmaster Kees van Assem and the Titan new arrivals round to Trypot Bay. Once the tug is on station there, Kelso is expected to come up to the Settlement for supplies Salvage Underway Photograph from Tristan Administrator Mike Hentley of the salvage tug De Hong alongside the stricken oil rig A Turtle on Saturday 30th December getting (what is hoped will be) the final stage of the oil rig’s removal underway. Thursday 4th January : Progress report from Mike Hentley
Preparations for the refloat of the oil rig are going according to plan. Divers are starting to insert air bags in the flooded areas in order to give buoyancy to the pontoons and columns on which the structure will float. New wire is being spooled on the two huge winches aboard the rig which will be used to anchor it when the floating operations begin, and which then will help pull it off the reef when the towing starts. The plan is to lift her up and float her off, so surplus pipe work and structure (such as the helideck) will be cut away and back loaded on to the tug in order to reduce weight first (every 5 tonnes of scrap weight removed will give another centimetre of buoyancy – not a lot of people knew that!). A small team of Tristanians are assisting with the work: handling the boats shuttling the work teams and supplies between the rig and the Kelso/De Hong accommodation & support vessels, and assisting with the scrapping/weight reduction operations.5th January : Titan have arranged to charter MV Edinburgh to bring urgently needed supplies, bringing forward the planned trip from 18th to 12th January, to arrive on Tristan c. 18th January.Thursday 11th January : Progress report from Mike Hentley
Salvage operations are going well, with some 300 tons of scrap metal already removed to reduce weight and assist flotation of the rig structure. The divers may have to resort to drilling – or even blasting – a way through the reef on which the rig is stranded in order to float it out to sea.
There have been unforeseen delays as the salvage team encounter and work around problems not anticipated during the original brief survey visit in October. It is understood that the Titan team are now looking at the spring tides on or around 18 February as a suitable time to attempt the re floating and towing, and that they are rearranging their work programme accordingly.
and from a special correspondent ….
trisrtandc.com has also learnt that the rig will be towed some 12 miles from the island to finally consign the rusting hulk to the deep, provided the 6357 tonne platform can be shifted (despite listing and crumpling of its legs as it has been driven ashore) and floated off.
Hopefully the spring tides on 18th February will also be accompanied by light winds, rare on Tristan, but more likely at this time of year. Friday 18th January
MV Edinburgh arrived in Trypot Bay and delivered important materials and additional fuel to the tug De Hong in support of the salvage operation. Half-Time Break?
Report from Mike Hentley on 23rd January
With preparation work to refloat the oil rig stranded at Trypot Bay about 50% complete, the salvage tug De Hong came up to Edinburgh Settlement on 23 January to top up water supplies, and the Kelso (on charter as support vessel) joined her later in the day so that the salvage team could stretch their legs and spend some hours ashore. The beginning of the end?
Could this be the start of the final countdown for the salvage operation? Although it could take another 3 weeks yet, this formal 7 days notice below sent from the salvors Titan on 29th January enables the salvage team to take advantage of any favourable weather and sea conditions occurring after that to attempt to refloat the rig.‘…Titan may attempt to refloat the A TURTLE in approximately 7 days. The actually refloating date will be determined on the success of the salvage team in the coming weeks, as well as the weather conditions’. News from Mike Hentley received 30th January 2007 A Turtle has now been stranded on the Trypot Reef since early June …
storm damage makes a re-float more difficult, but the Tristan community
hope that Titan Maritime live up to its name, remove the oil rig from Tristan’s South-East shore
and leave Trypot Bay’s Rockhopper Penguin colony in peace!
Watch this space for the latest news!
Frequently Asked Questions about the Oil Rig stranded at Trypot Bay
Q. What is the situation regarding the oil rig stranded on the British island of Tristan da Cunha?
A. On 7th June 2006 an oil rig beached at a remote bay on the island of Tristan da Cunha. The rig had been decommissioned in Brazil and was being towed to Singapore. It was released from tow in heavy seas to prevent the loss of both the rig and tug.
Q. What is the environmental impact of the rig?
A. Regular environmental inspections will be carried out to determine whether there will be any detrimental environmental impact to Tristan’s flora and fauna from the rig, and whether any invasive species have been introduced to Tristan waters.
Q How did the rig come to rest on the coast of Tristan da Cunha?
A. We believe that prevailing currents carried the rig to Tristan da Cunha. It had been adrift for several weeks before being sighted.
Q. When was the UK Government first made aware of the rig?
A. The Owner’s agents contacted the FCO on 13 June 2006, saying that the rig had beached on Tristan da Cunha.
Q. What do the UK Government and the rig’s owners propose doing with the rig now?
A. A permit has been issued by the Governor of St Helena, to the owners of the rig, granting permission for the rig to be removed from Trypot Bay and setting out the conditions for that removal. This decision has been taken following advice from a number of environmental and other experts to ensure the unique environment of Tristan da Cunha is protected.
Q. Why hasn’t it been moved before now?
A. Extreme weather conditions have made it impossible to re-float the rig before now.
Q. Is it guaranteed that the rig can be moved?
A. The rig owners, through their agents, are carrying out a structural survey to see whether it is still sufficiently robust to be moved without breaking up.
Q. What will happen to the rig?
A. Experts advise that the rig may not be in a sufficiently sound state to be towed any great distance. The possibility is therefore being examined of scuttling just within Tristan waters and away from the fishing grounds, subject to an environmental survey.
Q. Does the rig contain any pollutants?
A. The rig was decommissioned prior to leaving Brazil. It is possible that small traces of pollutants remain but this cannot be clarified until the environmental survey is complete.
Q. When can we expect the rig to be removed from the beach at Trypot Bay?
A. Before the end of the year.
Q. Is the rig a danger to navigation?
A. No. The Tristan group of islands is one of the remotest places on earth and well away from all the major shipping lanes.
Q. Who will bear the costs of the rig’s removal and make good any cost to the Islanders for possible damage to their Island’s environment?
A. The issue of cost is being discussed with the Owner’s agents and the rig insurers.
Q. Who are the oilrig’s owners?
A. The owners are TMT Co. Ltd. They are represented in London by Charles Taylor Consulting Services Limited.
. What is the latest position?
A. A contract for the salvage of the oil rig was awarded to Titan Maritime of Fort Lauderdale, USA on 6th December. Their team of salvage workers will sail from Cape Town in two parties and will arrive over the Christmas period. Their aim will be to carry out the work as quickly as possible. A contract for an environmental inspection will be signed shortly.