Oilrig Photos

Safe Supporter

Safe Supporter

Date Added: 22 January 2008 Contributor: Gus Mackay Year of Photo: 1975 Picture No: 627

Safe supporter, this was taken in the 70's I think by my father.


Please bear out with me and try not to get TOO censorious if I get the barge wrong. I have a very hazy idea that this barge may have been support for the Marathon Brae B hookup after the Baldur/Hermod left the field in about 1987/88. It's name does sound familiar to me. Trouble is, although I was on Brae B for the entire duration of hookup, including the module installation phase on Baldur/Hermod (and was at Marathon's Peterhead base preparing TL. welding and plant equipment prior to floatout). I can't remember the name of the barge at all. This pic looks very familiar though.

If so. I have a story. Interested?? Midway through the hookup I was called down to the bridge at about 11am in very rough weather in my capacity as TL and plant man to stand by for bridge lift along with a couple of scaffs and my mate. The bridge had just been closed to traffic after having had a controlled crossing imposed earlier. My job was to disconnect various signal lines which crossed the bridge. i.e. traffic lights, siren and phone lines and the scaffs to make good the gap in the handrail left when the bridge was lifted. Not very much, and all QD connections. Elephant's foot strapped down with break straps as normal but moving/working on its seating against the straps. Bridge operator in his cab and all ready for the word to go. It never came. Called galley and told them we would be late for dinner. At 12.30 I think we all knew that the bridge was beyond saving due to to the incredible movement of the barge. At 13.00, with still no word to lift the bridge, the break straps did their job and the bridge end was adrift and lashing into the platform. We ran for cover. Within a minute the bridgend lodged under the platform main deck just as the barge lifted very violently and the top control rams on the barge end of the bridge broke and allowed the bridge to swing vertically downwards, crushing the lifeboat directly underneath where it hung, lashing about, for a few minutes before the bottom bearing brackets broke and the bridge went straight to the bottom. I dont suppose that the bridge operator had any chance at all of retrieving the bridge under the conditions now being experienced. Although I didn't see it, i'm told that the bridge operator dived out of his cab and landed up on the accomodation roof screaming blue murder and in great danger of being blown off this precarious haven by the gale force winds which were, by now, blowing. I think you can see that there was no cover on the roof for him to cling too. No wonder the barge master was nicknamed "Captain Klingon". I guess he would have lost his bonus if he'd have lifted the bridge.

It was very telling that my/our testimony at the board of inquiry was never called for. I'm glad, 'cos by now the North Sea was my career, and I wanted to stay in it, but it did point to corruption. The rams that burst aren't very visible at the scale of this photo but they extend from the cab A frame across to the top of the bridge lattice structure. Apo- logies to those who already know this!!
Comment left on 03 January 2011 at 13:08 by Alan Clark (Oilslick)
Although not the Safe Supporter, picture #1991 shows an identical bridge and pedestal in much more detail than this pic although the top border of the pic cuts off the top half of control cab. Comment left on 05 January 2011 at 18:43 by Alan Clark
Treasure Supporter is the original name. Comment left on 26 February 2011 at 16:33 by Carl Peter Wiig
Hi Al, was on board the barge that night I was a sparkie working for BK on the commissioning squad (cream team) ha ha. It was great to get a few days in bed, all the best from Aussie Comment left on 18 February 2013 at 12:32 by Ronnie Stewart
An interesting account of the gangway collapse. There was no "board of inquiry" however - and the investigation carried out differs greatly from the tale above. A lot of the tale appears to be based upon supposition. Changes to gangway design were carried out following that incident. Comment left on 25 August 2017 at 14:20 by JB
Hello JB, and welcome. You seem to know something of the outcome of the above narrative, especially on how the findings of the investigation differed greatly from my own observations and experience. Perhaps you will enlighten any readers and myself as to who (or what) carried out this investigation and also what the findings of this enquiry amounted to. Surely it wasn't an INTERNAL investigation, was it? Of one thing that I am absolutely certain was the reading out of the companies prepared statement to the assembled crews (assembled presumably by company or discipline, mine being electrical) within a day or so of the event wherein the company? stated that the weather blew up too fast and too violently to allow the lifting of the bridge. Funny that, considering that bridge lift was exactly the reason why I was initially called down to the bridge, a full two hours prior to the bridge being lost. I look forward to your revelation of the findings of this enquiry. Comment left on 20 September 2017 at 14:11 by
There was an investigation carried it by the flotel operator and the oil company, which amongst other things- identified that the hyd oil lines to the telescoping motor were inadequate in their flow capacity to deal with the high volumes of oil at maximum telescoping speed. This caused the gangway to pull against the securing straps on the ‘elephant’s foot’ on the installation. From memory - someone on the installation removed the straps (not normally an issue, as the gangway is in telescoping ‘free-flow’). On this occasion, it allowed the gangway foot to be dragged off the installation landing platform and dropped. The two luffing rams could not withstand the momentum when they were at full extension and the clevis ends gave way - allowing the gangway assembly to fall further onto one of the lifeboat davits. With the telescoping section in free flow - the extension shot out, and the end stop/hydraulic buffers (never designed for this) also gave way - allowing the extension to fall into the sea. As has been alluded to - the design of the hydraulic lines were modified afterwards to prevent this ‘choking’ Comment left on 24 April 2018 at 19:17 by Allan Greig
Hello Allan and thank you for such an informative and courteous reply of which I both understand and accept from the technical level unreservedly.

However, it just doesn't address the question that I posed initially, namely, in that I was called to the bridge for lift a full two hours prior to the bridge being lost, why wasn't the bridge lifted at that time, or at least, shortly thereafter. After all, bridges like this one were in use all over North Sea and bridge lift was a common occurrence in that ALL bridges had to be lifted at some time or other.
Comment left on 19 January 2019 at 14:24 by Alan Clark
Form Goes Here