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Hurricane force vs. a few brave ships

The 2007 Hurricane Season is on, with the onslaught of the monster hurricane "Dean" - a catastrophic category five storm. I'm sure we'll all see the tv coverage of what it's like somewhere on-shore, but here are some hair-raising pictures of ships in heavy seas, including a wrecked oil rig platform (the likes of which they are evacuating right now, away from the hurricane's path)

(image credit: Expeditioner in heavy seas aad.gov.au)

(image credit: navy.forces.gc.ca)

(image credit: Seafish.org)

HMCS "Halifax" encounters some heavy seas on the Grand Banks off the coast of Newfoundland during a fisheries patrol in January 2007":

(images credit: DND, navy.forces.gc.ca)

(images credit: J. J. Pronk, tv-antenna)

A stunning photo of a helicopter rescue of the "Braer" ship crew, in trouble near Sumburgh Head:

(image credit: Seafish.org)

Navy aircraft carriers in trouble

During the WWII and until 1950, most Navy aircraft carriers had a certain blunt bow design, that did not stand well against the onslaught of powerful waves.

(image credit: Pentagon)

In January 1959 US Aircraft Carrier "Valley Forge" encountered heavy seas that "broke over her forward flight deck, tearing away part of its port side. This was a dramatic example of the vulnerabilities of the "open bow" design typical of World War II aircraft carrier design, a problem solved by the enclosed "hurricane bow" fitted to carriers newly built or modernized during the mid-1950s and later." (source). The survey of the storm damage to the ship caused positive changes in design, but not until a few other carriers suffered the same fate:

"Valley Forge" before the damage:

Battling heavy seas:

The damage after the storm: (imagine the force with which the waves slammed the ship!)

(images credit: US Navy)

On 5 June 1945 the carrier "Bennington" was damaged by a typhoon off Okinawa:

(image credit: uss-bennington.org)

Aircraft carrier "Hornet" also suffered typhoon damage:

(image credit: cco.caltech.edu)

USS "Essex" on January 1960:

USS "John F. Kennedy", one of the more modern carriers, is shown here in heavy seas:

(image credit: chinfo.navy.mil)

Tankers are a BIG wave target:

"Erika" - a massive oil tanker succumbed to the power of the storm in the waters of Northern Gascony. A little rescue ship "The Abeille Flandre" have been able to secure the tanker even after it split in two, keeping the stern afloat and preventing the ship to run aground, which could've caused a huge oil spill.

(image credit: bourbon-online.com)

Nothing can help this tanker:
("Levoli Sun", in the English Channel, north of the Isle of Batz)

(image credit: bourbon-online.com)

Big cruise ships are tossed around in the heavy seas like a child's toy:

"Voyager" - very modern ocean liner, in the middle of Mediterranean swells:

Here is another big ship: New Zealand' ferry "The Aramoana" in the Cook Strait - one of the roughest stretches of water in the world:

(image credit: teara.govt.nz)

The wreck of oil tanker "Prestige" off the coast of Spain (more info) -

(image credit: Archive Photo EFE)

Evacuate! Evacuate!

When big offshore oil rig is damaged, it's not a pretty sight; it is rather a testimony to the power of hurricane's wave surge, which can crumble the structure like a bunch of sticks:

This is the current facility off the shores of Mexico (14,000 workers evacuated, production completely shut down, oil rigs abandoned) "Dean bears down on oil fields" - article.

Here is what it might look like after Dean passes over:

"NEW ORLEANS, La. (July 12, 2005)--Thunder Horse, a semi-submersible platform owned by BP, was found listing after the crew returned. The rig was evacuated for Hurricane Dennis. USCG photos by PA3 Robert M. Reed"

(image credit: Botinok)



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Anonymous Tom (London) said...

Fun, unless you're there I guess...

I'm particularly intrigued by the picture of HMCS Halifax's fo'csle, though - who's the poor blighter who has to go out and drop the fence onto the deck to save it from being ripped off the gunwales? It looks like there's a cable to strap on to, but I wouldn't be to chuffed with that detail!

Anonymous Sham said...

The "Abeille Flandre is very far from being a "small rescue ship"...
That's one of our most powerfull (12800 HP's!) puller ships! :)

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't let them fool you, modern aircraft carriers get tossed around quite a bit!


Blogger Momma Bear said...

OMG! This is absolutely AMAZING! Loved the pics!!

Blogger ax2usn said...

A little math to put things in perspective:

One cubic meter of water weighs one ton. If a storm wave 12 meters high hits a ship, you can count on 6 tons of force per square meter, which is less than half the structual strength of large vessels (15 tons per square meter). But...rogue waves hit with an estimated force of 100 tons per square meter.

Many factors determine damage to any given ship under rogue wave conditions: stress fatigue (the structural stress brought about by doing what ships do), compressive strength (the ability to fight crushing forces of the wave), longtitudinal bending stress, shearing (tangent to the main body) stress, progressive stress (at the point where ships load and unload cargo), operational error and possible cargo shift, to name a few.

I reckon it would be impossible to retro-fit the world's ships to withstand such an onslaught. The best we can hope for is an early warning system enabling ships to get out ...wayyyy out...of the rogue wave path.

(A snappy Navy salute to the hearty souls who bravely navigate the world's oceans every single day.)

Anonymous Graid said...

Amazing pictures! Just wanted to add that actually despite the efforts of the 'Abeille Flandre' the sinking of the Erika did indeed cause 'a huge oil spill' seeing as the ship's sinking released thousands of tonnes of oil into the surroundings seas which killed thousands of France's birds and was a serious environmental disaster for the country. In addition, negligence towards the safety of boats like the Erika was deemed responsible for the sinking.

Blogger Jean-Jacques AUDOIN said...

Hello from France.

There is an error.

The damaged aircraft carrier is not the Valley Forge but the CVL 25 USS COWPENS THE " Mighty Moo "

Best regards.


Anonymous Rick said...

And photos like this are why I never joined the Navy.


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