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Huge Semi-Submersible Ships

Link - article by Simon Rose and Avi Abrams

Sea Monsters and Giants of the Waves - Huge Semi-submersible Ships

This time at Dark Roasted Blend, we’re turning the spotlight on some of the most massive ocean-going vessels in the world (as part of our "Biggest Ships in the World" series). Semi-submersible ships are the only vessels capable of loading, transporting and off-loading extremely heavy equipment. These mighty ships are used to carry entire gas refineries, huge oil drilling rigs, and even warships and submarines, on lengthy journeys across the globe.

(the Fjord Semi-submersible Heavy Transport Vessel, top image credit: Fairstar)

Semi-submersibles have large, open decks designed to accommodate their colossal cargo. This type of vessel is also known as a "flo/flo", short for "float-on/float-off", and can carry loads weighing from 50 to 45,000 tons.

(images via)

The ship’s ballast tanks are flooded with water so that the deck is lowered beneath the surface. Large oil platforms, industrial plants, other ships and boats, or whatever the floating cargo comprises, can then be positioned for loading. When the water is pumped out of the ballast tanks, the deck rises to take the full weight of the load, which is then firmly secured before beginning its journey.

This is the Deep Water Nautilus being transported by the Blue Marlin heavy lift vessel:

(image via, 2)

Here is the whole enormous Floating production storage and offloading (FPSO) unit is being loaded on one of these ships:

(The FPSO Sevan Voyageur leaving Yantai Raffles Shipyard in China, images via)

Many of the largest semi-submersible ships are operated by Dockwise, including the Mighty Servant series of vessels, the Vanguard, the Blue Marlin, and the Black Marlin. In 2004, when Dockwise increased the width of the deck of the Blue Marlin, it became the world’s largest heavy transport carrier at the time:

(image via)

Blue Marlin is more than 700 feet long and has 38 cabins that can accommodate 60 people. The ship also has a sauna, swimming and workout facilities. In July 2005, the Blue Marlin took this gas refinery (above) on an 11 days journey from where it was built near Cadiz in southern Spain to Hammerfest in Norway.

Daewoo Shipbuilding constructed the Thunder Horse offshore platform in South Korea. This monstrous creation weighs around 60,000 tons and needed to be moved all the way to Texas in early 2004:

(image via)

The Blue Marlin sailed via the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa and 61 days and 16,000 miles later, the mighty ship arrived at its destination (left image below). Only a year later, the Thunder Horse platform was badly damaged by Hurricane Dennis (right image):

(images via)

This is the 40,000 tons semi-submersible rig Jim Day, operated by Noble Drilling, aboard the Blue Marlin:

(images via 1, 2; right photo credit: Laurie K. Gilbert)

In November 2005, the Blue Marlin was commissioned to transport the enormous sea-based X-band radar from Texas to Alaska:

(image via)

The trip took place via the southern tip of South America, with a stop in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. In these two pictures above, we see the Blue Marlin arriving in Pearl Harbor after a journey of 15,000 miles.

The U.S. Navy has used the Blue Marlin to move damaged warships back to the United States, where they can be repaired. Here we see the guided missile destroyer USS Cole on its journey home from Aden, where it was damaged by a bomb in October 2000:

(image via)

These are the coastal mine-hunters USS Cardinal and USS Raven on board the Blue Marlin:

(image via)

The Australian Navy has also employed the Blue Marlin. HMAS Canberra is the first of two landing helicopter dock (LHD) ships constructed for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). Construction of the ship began in 2008 in Spain and once completed, the hull was transported halfway around the world to Australia on the Blue Marlin:

(image via)

It arrived in Melbourne in October 2012, where the ship is being completed, to be ready for commissioning in the RAN in 2014:

(image via)

The Mighty Servant is a 29,000-ton heavy lift ship and several different versions have been built over the years. Here’s the Mighty Servant 2 transporting the USS Samuel B. Roberts from Dubai to Newport, Rhode Island in 1988:

(image via)

In these pictures, you can get a good idea of the huge loads the Mighty Servant is capable of transporting across the ocean:

(images via)

Despite their formidable appearance and size, these huge vessels are still not immune to the hazards of maritime travel. In 1999, the Mighty Servant 2 capsized off the coast of Indonesia, following a collision with an underwater obstacle that was missing from all the navigation charts. The Mighty Servant 3 sank off the port of Luanda, Angola, in 2006, fortunately with no casualties. The vessel was able to be salvaged and was taken to South Africa for repairs in 2007. Two years later, after a lot of work and rebuilding, the Mighty Servant 3 was back in business:

(images via)

The Dockwise operated Vanguard semi-submersible heavy lift ship is the largest vessel of its type ever built. The Vanguard mostly transports offshore oil and gas installations, but also moves other ships. The Vanguard can be used as an offshore dry dock facility too. This allows ships and floating rigs to be lifted from the water for maintenance or inspection purposes, without costly interruptions in production:

(images credit: Dockwise, via)

The vessel’s flat bow-less deck is 70% larger than Blue Marlin and allows the Vanguard to carry cargo that is longer and wider than the deck. The Vanguard can accommodate cargoes up to 110,000 tonnes, twice the capacity of the Blue Marlin.

A few years ago, Dockwise was contracted to help the Russian Navy transfer some Soviet-era nuclear submarines to sites where they could be safely dismantled. In a delicate operation, all the submarines still had their used nuclear fuel on board when they were transported:

(images via)

In addition to Dockwise, a few other companies also operate heavy lift ships. This (see below) is the semi-submersible vessel FJELL, operated by Fairstar Heavy Transport of the Netherlands:

(images credit: Fairstar, via)

The Kang Sheng Kou was built in 2003 and is capable of handling loads up to 18,000 tons, mostly dealing with equipment for large-scale engineering projects in Asia:

(images via)

Submarine rescue ship USS Pigeon is also worth our interest, as it is capable of carrying two "deep submergence vehicles" on her main deck - more info:

(image via)

And finally, how about this shot of a ship carrying ships? Here the Blue Marlin transports 18 riverboats and a collection of large pontoons that were built in China:

(image via)

Article by Simon Rose and Avi Abrams, Dark Roasted Blend.



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Anonymous Max said...

My mind blows a fuse every time I see that picture of the ship carrying a bunch of stacked other ships... It's simply too surreal.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe you could move the giant FORD ad off of the article, since you can't close it or move it off the text. That'd be nice.

Blogger Avi Abrams said...

This ad should not be there! Can you please send me a screenshot, or give more details to abramsv@gmail.com - as I can not see this on my computer.

Blogger Avi Abrams said...

Are you reading our page on smartphone, or a tablet? Which device (screen size) are you using?

Blogger Jamie said...

"transported by the Blue Marlin heavy lift vessel"
The name on the ship clearly says Black Marlin.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have visited towns that would fit inside those ships.

Blogger Dr. Tuxpan said...

Yo Dawg, we put a ship on your ship so you can ship your ship by ship.

Blogger Craig Finch said...

I'm not seeing the Ford ad, but some script on this site is continuously eating 20-30% of my CPU as long as I am on this page. The page is fully rendered and no movies are playing. This is annoying, and it would be great if you can fix it.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are so many amazing things in the world that we might never see, were it not for the internet! For all the horror in the world, there is wonder as well! Thanks for this blog!

Blogger Avi Abrams said...

Thank you Anonymous


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