Saturday 5 March 2016

Platform upgrade

Back in December, an offshore accommodation vessel, Safe Boreas, arrived in Orkney waters. It has been anchored in Scapa Flow over the winter, undergoing maintenance and the installation of additional accommodation modules.

Here's a photo of the platform taken on New Year's Eve, when the snow on the Hoy hills provided a scenic backdrop.

All through the winter, the lights of the platform have illuminated the nights, looking for all the world like some garish hybrid of a funfair and an ocean liner. Today, I was sat in the lounge, reading the local paper, when I happened to look up and take in the view across to the west. Safe Boreas was on the move, under her own steam (ok, probably not steam-powered, I'll admit) and leaving the Flow.

Here she is, heading south past the island of Flotta and its oil terminal.

The ship tracking app, AIS, provided a handy reference of what was going on. The remaining accommodation platform, Regalia, is still anchored in the north east corner of Scapa Flow.

And here is Safe Boreas passing through the Sound of Hoxa on her way to a temporary anchorage to the west of the island of Swona.

It's been a busy week or so in the Flow. There have been half a dozen visiting tankers at anchor during ship to ship LPG transfers, but the biggest news has been the discovery of a World War 2 torpedo on the sea bed. From its location, on the east side of the Flow, it has been reasoned that it is probably from the German submarine U-47, and one of the three failed torpedoes that was fired during the deadly attack on HMS Royal Oak in 1939.

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