Heavy Lift Ships and their Incredibly Massive Cargoes

When you need to transport large cargo, goods, and materials from one place to another, the ship is the ideal choice even though they are extremely slow. Thousands of cargo carriers ply the world’s seas and oceans each year, and they handle the bulk of international trade. Then there are heavy lift ships that are designed to carry excessively large loads that even cargo ships cannot bear, such as other ships, drilling rigs or anything else too large or heavy to be easily transported on a conventional ship.

Heavy lift ships are of two types: semi-submerging capable of lifting another ship out of the water and transporting it; and vessels that augment unloading facilities at inadequately equipped ports. Semi-submerging are more commonly known as a “flo/flo” for float-on/float-off. These vessels have a long and low well deck that can go down under water allowing oil platforms, other vessels, or other floating cargo to be moved into position for loading. The tanks are then pumped out, and the well deck rises higher in the water, lifting its cargo, and is ready to sail wherever in the world the cargo needs to be transported.

 

 The world’s first heavy lift vessel was MV Lichtenfels (118 long tons; 132 short tons) constructed in the 1920s by the Bremen based shipping company DDG Hansa. After World War II, DDG Hansa became the world’s largest heavy lift shipping company. Today that title is owned by Dockwise which currently operates 19 heavy lift ships – the world’s largest fleet of semi-submersible vessels of various sizes and types.

The flo/flo industry’s largest customer base is the oil industry. They have transported many oil drilling rigs from their construction site to the drilling site at roughly three to four times the speed of a self-deploying rig.

In 1988, the heavy lift ship Mighty Servant 2 towed the guided missile frigate USS Samuel B. Roberts, which was nearly sunk by a naval mine in the central Persian Gulf. Eleven years later, MV Blue Marlin transported the U.S. guided missile destroyer USS Cole from Aden, Yemen to Pascagoula, Mississippi, after the warship was damaged in a bombing attack on 12 October 2000.

In 2004, Blue Marlin carried the world’s largest semi-submersible oil platform, 60,000 tonne semi-submersible production rig, Thunder Horse, over 15,000 nautical miles from Okpo, Korea to Corpus Christi, Texas.

Many of the larger ships of this class are owned by the company Dockwise, including Mighty Servant 1, MV Blue Marlin, and MV Black Marlin. The company is currently building another heavy weight named the Vanguard that will have 50% greater lifting capacity and 70% greater deck area than the largest heavy lift ship now in service, the Blue Marlin. At 275 meters (902 feet) long and 70 meters (230 feet) wide, the Vanguard can lift 110,000 tonnes and travel across oceans at 14 knots.

 

 

Dockwise Tern in the process of loading an oil platform

 

 

 

The heavy lift vessel MV Blue Marlin with its deck cargo of the Sea-Based X-Band Radar enters Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, after completing a 15,000-mile journey from Corpus Christi, Texas, on January 9, 2006.

 

 

MV Mighty Servant 2 carries USS Samuel B. Roberts from Dubai to Newport, R.I., in 1988.  The ship struck an underwater mine in the Persian Gulf.

 

Russian Beast of the Ice

 icebreaker

The NS Yamal is a Russian Arktika class nuclear-powered icebreaker operated by Atomflot (formerly by the Murmansk Shipping Company). It is named after the Yamal Peninsula in Northwest Siberia; the name means End of the Land in Nenets.

Laid down in Leningrad in 1986, and launched in October 1992, after the breakup of the Soviet Union, it never filled its designed role of keeping shipping lanes open. It has always carried passengers on arctic excursions. In July of 1994 Yamal took an excursion to the North Pole, with the NSF (National Science Foundation), to celebrate the Official Maiden Voyage. While at the exact north pole (verified by GPS & Inmarsat satellite coordinates) the crew and passengers celebrated with a barbeque – the ambient temperature was -10 degrees F (wind gusts were measured at -40 degrees F). Because of the ship 90/90 coordinates the ship captain (Smirnov) organized a swimming party with Mr. Will Rountree (USA) being recorded as the 1st person to ever swim there (21 Jul 94) – water temperature was below freezing, ranging from 28 degrees to 31 degrees F. The Yamal is the 12th surface ship ever to reach the north pole.

icebreaker1

The Yamal is equipped with a double hull. The outer hull is 48 mm thick where ice is met and 25 mm elsewhere and has a polymer coating to reduce friction. There is water ballast between the inner and outer hulls which can be shifted in order to aid icebreaking. Icebreaking is also assisted by an air bubbling system which can deliver 24 m³/s of air from jets 9 m below the surface. The Yamal can break ice while making way either forwards or backwards.

Yamal is one of the Russian “Arktika” family of icebreakers, the most powerful icebreakers in the world. These ships must cruise in cold water to cool their reactors, so they cannot pass through the tropics to undertake voyages in the Southern hemisphere.

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Yamal docked in Murmansk

Yamal carries one helicopter and several Zodiac boats. Radio and satellite communications systems are installed which can provide navigation, telephone, fax, and email services. Amenities include a large dining room (capable of holding all 100 passengers in one sitting), a library, passenger lounge, auditorium, volleyball court, gymnasium, heated indoor swimming pool, a sauna, and an infirmary. She is equipped with 50 passenger cabins and suites, all with toilets, exterior windows, a television, and a desk.

Yamal also played a significant role in creation of annual travel expeditions to the North Pole, being one of the few vessels capable of getting there and bringing tourists with it in safety. Since 1993 the icebreaker was operated by Murmansk Shipping Company and in 2001-2008 the operation was made by Murmansk Shipping Company and Poseidon Expeditions. Yamal has made a total of 47 voyages to the North Pole.

icebreaker3

Sister ship 50 Let Pobedy, biggest icebreaker in the world

You think your job sucks

These are pictures of ship breaking in Chittagong, Bangladesh.   These old ships are pulled ashore and then the work begins.  Unskilled laborers use mainly setaline torches to break down the ships.  The steel is then pulled or carried to trucks further inland.

The labourers can make up to US $1.50 a day.  No safety equipment or standards.  The heat can be excruciating.  Tough days work.

Western countries used to break down their own ships.  But dismantling a steel ship is costly with high union wages in European countries.  So the ship owners sell the ships to ship breaking firms in India, Bangladesh and China.

Huge Private Yachts, and a Submarine

The super-billionaires of the world have to spend their gobs of money somehow.  From giant homes to private jets they have the resources to indulge.  The billionaires that like the sea buy the biggest private yachts ever imagined.  They cost tens of millions of dollars, often more expensive than their homes.  The costs continue with the upkeep, crews, equipment and helicopters that go with them.  The super yachts are over 400 feet (130 meters) long .  Most of them are owned by Russian oligarchs, Arab sheiks, Greek shipping magnets and American billionaires.

Tiger Woods has a yacht called Privacy.  But it is minor league in comparison to what the super-billionaires sail.

The first picture is Tiger’s yacht.  The last two pictures is Bill Allen’s (co-founder of Microsoft) behemoth named Octopus.  It is 414 feet long.   The size of many modern navy frigates.