Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Western Neptune - northwest passage

1. Western Neptune at pier 27. Dominion Diving's Big Steel is alongside with divers.

The seismic research ship Western Neptune has been in port since Sunday for repairs and refitting after working in the Beaufort Sea. The ship was conducting a 3D seismic survey under a coasting trade license from the Canadian Transportation Agency.
Built in 1999 by Ulsteinwerft in Norway (design UT 753) the ship measures 8,369 gross tons and its two engines generate 3970kW (10,600 bhp) giving the ship 150 tonnes bollard pull. This allows the ship to tow 12 seismic streamers of 6,000m. It is also fitted for silent operation. It is also fitted with a helicopter platform, used for crew changes, supplies and medical evacuations (and there was one of the latter, although precautionary, during this mission).
The ship sailed from Vancouver in July and once on station it was assisted by two ice rated supply tugs from Northern Transportation Ltd, Jim Kilabuk and Alex Gordon. (These tugs once worked out of Halifax). One tug acted as a supplier, running back and forth the 12 to 16 hours to Tuktoyaktuk and the other acted as picket boat, leading the ship and spotting ice or debris in the water. The suppliers and the ship itself carried marine environmental observers to watch for whales in particular, but also seals and other animals in an attempt to minimize disturbance to the wildlife caused by the seismic shock waves.
On completion of the work, which was determined by ice conditions, the ship continued eastward, completing a northwest passage.
The ship is operated by Western Geco, whose headquarters is in the unlikely location of Gatwick, UK.

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