Standby Vessels - Masters Pocket Book Series

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Published Date

April 2009

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Standby Vessels - Masters Pocket Book Series

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This book examines the operations of standby vessels covering the older, newer and converted types.

When the first oil platforms were installed in the North Sea, a system of standby vessels was introduced. Initially these consisted of fishing boats hired casually to standby in the area of the platform to perform some kind of assistance in case of emergency.


In 1988 came the Piper Alpha disaster which had a traumatic effect on the whole oil industry in the North Sea and, together with many other concerns, the need for a professional system for the rescue and recovery of platform personnel was addressed, resulting in a legal requirement to provide such a system.


Post 'Piper Alpha', a reluctant oil industry now had Emergency Response and Rescue Vessels (SBVs) foisted on them and with a laid down specification of what the ships should be capable of doing. This book is intended to examine the reality of the situation today including the required capabilities of a SBV and the relationships between the various parties.


At the present time there are approximately 130 SBVs employed in the North Sea Sector. Manning these ships is a combined pool of around 3000 seafarers, comprising of Captains, Officers and Ratings. Since 1986, they have been responsible for the rescue of around 300 persons, with a number of these rescues not being oil field related, but instead from commercial shipping, fishing vessels and leisure craft.


The Emergency Response and Rescue Vessels (SBVs) exist for one principle purpose, the saving of life, specifically the life of those working on the various platforms and fixed storage vessels (FPSOs). To do this, ships are equipped with equipment and boats and equally important, crews who have had specialised training in the use of these. This formal training is continually added to and tested by the constant exercises in rescue procedures. The abilities of individual ships varies with the design of the ship, the type and standard of rescue equipment provided and, most important, the degree of leadership and dedication shown by the Master. The standard of training and exercises he imposes on his ship reflect in the quality of the crew. From this it could be said that almost every SBV is different in its abilities although without doubt, every ship will do its utmost in the event of any emergency.

The Requirement for Standby vessels (SBVs) / Emergency Response Rescue Vessels (EERVs)
1 The Ships

1.1 Engines and Manoeuvrability
1.2 The Equipment
1.3 Communications
1.4 Survivors' Facilities
1.5 Crew Accommodation
2 Responsibilities
2.1 The Captain
2.2 The Offshore Installation Manager (OIM)
2.3 The SBV Operator and the Operator of the Installation
3 The Crews
3.1 Manning
3.2 Standards
4 The Training
4.1 Initial Training in Shipboard Operations
4.2 Advanced Medical Aid (AMA)
4.3 Command and Control
4.4 CAA Certificate.
4.5 FRC Boatman's Course
4.6 FRC Coxswain(cox'n)
4.7 The Onboard Training and Exercises
5 The Tasks
5.1 Man Overboard (MOB)
5.2 Helicopter Ditching
5.3 Installation Escape to the Sea
6 Baseline Standards
7 Operations

7.1 The State of the Equipment
7.2 The Crew
7.3 The State of the Weather
7.4 The Urgency of the Launch
8 Ship Handling Practices
8.1 The Launch and recovery of FRCs
8.2 Using the Mechanical Recovery System
9 Additional Duties
9.1 Guard Vessel
9.2 Fishing Boats
10 Improvement
10.1 The Ships
10.2 The Equipment
10.3 The Crews
10.4 The Manning 
10.5 Training
10.6 Onboard Training

Michael started his career on the training ship HMS Conway and went to sea as a Cadet with P&O.

He was promoted to master on a deep sea tow vessel at the age of 32. He then commanded a wide variety of ships including general cargo, passenger, reefer, heavy lift, container, bulk carriers, anchor handlers, supply vessels, response and rescue vessels in the north sea, oil field support vessels in Nigeria, middle trade multi-purpose vessels in the Black Sea and Baltic.

Michael served 35 years in the Royal Naval Reserve and for 10 years he represented shipmasters on the Council of Numast. He is a Fellow of the Nautical Institute and a Younger Brother of Trinity House.

Michael retired from the sea in March 2007 after 50 years seagoing and 35 years in command. He now works with Witherby Seamanship International as a Senior Advisor and Technical Author.

Title: Standby Vessels - Masters Pocket Book Series
Subtitle: Operating Old, New and Converted
Number of Volumes: 1
Edition: First
Number of Pages: 100
Product Code: WS1016K
ISBN: ISBN 13: 978-1-905331-39-0 (9781905331390), ISBN 10: 1-905331-39-8 (1905331398)
Published Date: April 2009
Binding Format: Paperback
Book Height: 180 mm
Book Width: 120 mm
Book Spine: 50 mm
Weight: 0.16 kg
Author: Michael Lloyd

Customer Reviews

Standby Vessels Review by Nautilus Telegraph Review
Cinderellas of the Industry? Standby Vessels could be called ‘The ships no one wants’, Captain Mike Lloyd argues in the introduction to his new title in the Masters Pocketbook Series.
With the vessels ‘foisted upon a reluctant oil industry’, he indentifies a need to examine the reality of today’s operations – including the required capabilities of vessels, and the relationships between the various parties off-shore. Standby vessels: Operating Old, New and Converted therefore goes far beyond ‘what it says on the tin’ to include some pithy observations on an essential but often neglected sector of the shipping industry. Divided into sections such as ships, responsibilities, crew, training, tasks, standards, operations, ship handling practices and additional duties, this serves as a handy guide to all aspects of emergency rescue and response vessel work, and will be of interest to those already in the sector as well as prospective entrants. The book makes some insightful comments about many pressing issues, not least of which is the supply of suitably skilled seafarers for the sector. In the past, it notes there had been a steady supply of crews from the former fishing fleets, but that has now almost dried up and a number of short-term ‘quick fixes’ are being sought, most of which involve the use of foreign crews. Communities and teamwork are often the first consequent casualties of such an approach, it notes. Mike Lloyd concludes with a trenchant chapter of criticism and suggestions for improvement – questioning how much longer the use of converted supply ships can be tolerated and condemning the state of the equipment fitted too many vessels. Poor pay and conditions aggravate the problems, he argues with many ERRV crews suffering ‘Primitive’ onboard accommodation and a victualling allowance less than half that on the installations they guard. Little effort is made to retain or attract back experienced staff, whilst the increased recruitment of cheaper foreign crews is fuelling operational and communication difficulties and many masters and officers are facing unsustainable pressures of new responsibilities and new requirements. ‘There are so many existing problems that the industry cannot afford to continue to ignore them’, Capt Lloyds rallying call concludes. However, the answer, he suggests, relies upon willingness by the oil industry to pay the increased charter rates to cover the costs of building and operating new vessels and crewing them to the required standard.'; (Posted on 01/04/2009)

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