VARIOUS CROSSTALK ITEMS
Crosstalk September 1982
ANDAMAN ISLANDS, THE SAGA CONTINUES
With the M/V Baltic Seal held up on due to equipment problems, it was decided to 'send in the cavalry’ in the form of the RC Dunlap, in the hopes that the prospect could be completed before the onset of the SE monsoon which was due to start in early June. On May 12th, I flew into Colombo and was joined by Mobile operator, Joe Molloy, the next day. Since the Dunlap wasn't due to arrive in port for a couple of days I dragged Joe up into the mountains to Kandy for some sightseeing. Base station operators Kassim, Rattan Mattoria and Bruce Burgess, meanwhile, were on the way to their Indian Ocean paradises! direct from Singapore.
Once the vessel arrived, on the 17th, we set sail the following day - not exactly into the sunset, more of a tropical downpour. Most of the Shoran awaited our arrival in Port Blair, and upon arrival there, on the 26th, (after attempting to shoot a test line en route, using Transit Satellite and sonar) we finished the installation and then completed calibration procedures. Party chief, Fred Brander then left on the Miss Lemi (ex Western Geo 1) to set the stations
All stations were on different islands, so the only way they could be set was from the sea, and due to the SW monsoon churning up the seas, it was five days before the first station became operational. For another eleven days we ran around in seas too rough to shoot in, and because it’s difficult to cut baselines or take three-way fixes with just one station, there was not a lot for us to do!
With three stations set by June 6th, we finally started attempting to shoot, but never finished a line due to excessive cable noise. Finally, with no improvement in sight on the west side, word was passed that we should go and time-shoot with the Baltic Seal on the NE prospect. This area was more or less completed just in time, as it was starting to get very rough on this side now. If we were having fun, it must have been hilarious on the stations on the west side, what with lightning strikes, unfriendly natives, and crocodiles. Plus the fact that it was difficult for anyone to get to the stations, never mind getting anyone off!
The next two weeks were spent attempting to shoot some of the SW prospect and attempting, unsuccessfully, to retrieve some gear on Barren Island. All personnel were eventually rescued, but equipment remains in Port Blair, or on various islands, awaiting a return appearance of the crew later in the year. Dave Taylor
Crosstalk January 1983
The 9th of September, 1982; a day that signalled the beginning of the end for this project.
Singapore: Mobile installation on the M/V Baltic Seal. Mike Jarvis, Sam DeSilva, Singh, Fred Brander and Dave Russell descended on the vessel with unprecedented enthusiasm. Mike, flexing the muscles of his newly mended arm, had literally to be dragged from the boat at the end of the day.
On Sunday, September 13th, Ted Zimny arrived from Kuala Lumpur. He, Sam and myself set off for Calcutta, via Bangkok, and from there to Port Blair. Picking up Ran Sharma and Rameth Chandra in Calcutta, our assault force was nearly complete.
The task that awaited us in Port Blair - capital of the Andaman Islands - was considerable. Some of the gear was in a state of shock due to months of storage in a damp humid environment. (The Barren Island and Tarmugli Stations were still on site.) In a few days, Rattan Matoria arrived, completing the land force, and, after much cursing and sweating, the stored gear was transformed into four reasonable base stations, ready for action.
The Baltic Seal was to depart Singapore on September 15th, with Mike Jarvis and Joe Molloy on board. Its ETA was September 22nd, a date by which we were expected to have at least two base stations installed and operational.
The timings of boats available turned sour when the M/V Safeena was delayed in returning from the Nicobar Islands, and the back up boat turned out to be a harbor launch, not allowed outside of Phoenix Bay, Port Blair! However, after much frustration, the mighty M/V Kondul, chartered from the Marine and Shipping Dept of India was ready to bring Rattan to Little Andaman Island, and Rameth to Tarmugli Island. With no other vessels available, hopes of reclaiming the equipment from Barren Island were non-existent.
September 22nd was an eventful day. Unable to land the previous day due to rough seas, Rattan, his camp helper and police escort, finally got ashore, the station operational by midday. However, Rameth could only land in a sheltered spot north of Tarmugli station. A three hour walk later, he discovered the equipment had gone. All that remained was the tower and yaggis.
September 23rd saw the Baltic Seal depart Port Blair with the necessary equipment. A rendezvous with the Kondul was delayed by bad weather, but when it did arrive, a broken shaft on their dinghy, and the fact that the Baltic Seal's dinghy was still in Port Blair, forced the latter’s return to dock. When Rameth finally landed on Tamugli Island again, it was only to discover the tower was now missing.
Fortunately, while this drama was unfolding, we were able to load the M/V Safeena with the equipment for Interview Island (DeSilva), North Reef Island (Zimny), and Landfall Island (Sharma). Despite heavy seas and heavy rains, landings were made and stations erected.
They say bad start, good finish; and that's how it went. The Baltic Sea went to work on the morning of September 28th, and received "Boat of the Month" award for October. Less than 48 hours after the project was finished, all stations were packed up and back in Port Blair. And on November 13th, the Baltic Seal sailed for Singapore with all ONI equipment on board, including the stolen Tarmugli Island equipment, which had been recovered by police, and the Barren Island equipment which I managed to retrieve a couple of days earlier. Barren Island, by the way, is probably the most spectacular base station site in the world - an extinct volcano is only 500 meters from the marker. (I think the station is actually in what remains of the volcano crater - DT.)
For me, one of the highlights of the operation was my trip on the tribal welfare boat 'Milale’. On the way to a rendezvous with the Baltic Seal we passed South Andaman Island. The northern part of this island is inhabited by the Tarawas, a local Negroid tribe of unknown origin. They are between 250 and 500 in number and resent intruders, but have had several recent friendly contacts with gift-bearing police and tribal welfare officers. The Tarawas use bows and arrows, some tipped with stingray barbs, but, contrary to popular belief, these are not poisoned. The nearest we came to seeing Tarawas was a breakfast fire on the west coast of Middle Island. Another tribe on North Sentinal Island, called the Sentinalese, also use bows and arrows, some exceeding two meters in length. To date, no contact has ever been made with a Sentinalese, although police and welfare officials occasionally visit and leave gifts on the beach.
Laying at anchor off Interview Island while waiting for the Baltic Sea, the whole party went ashore and visited Sam's station and the police post. This is the first time a senior administration official had visited in 15 years. The officers really turned on the parade drill for the Chief, Secretary and Superintendent.
We visited Ted on North Reef Island later. His police escort was forewarned of the visit and greeted us in full uniform, with rifles, fixed bayonets, and a magnificent `present arms’.
All good things must come to an end, and
on 14th of November we all said farewell to the beautiful
Andaman Islands as we winged our way to Madras, en route
to Singapore. All those who went will remember the
experience for a long, long time. Dave Russell
Crosstalk September 1982
A TROUBLESHOOTING THE ARCTICThe day started out with brilliant sunlight and no wind. After 2 hours tanning on a snow bank in balmy 14°C temperatures, it was time for radio checks with the M/V Petrel and M/V Freedom Service. All systems were excellent at the beginning of the check, but at sign off time, 2233Z, my life changed. As we were talking, Hall Isle decided to quit the ARGO team. The weather was good so I got my trustworthy pilots to fire up the Bell 212 for the flight. Due to the flight being over water, it is mandatory to wear survival suits, and if you sweat a lot, a long trip can be very damp.
Crosstalk November 1980
CLARKE 1880 - HEAVERLO 1980
It seemed easy enough at first; a shallow water seismic job in the King Sound, up on the Northwest coast of Australia. GSI were the client, M/V Karunda the vessel. PC, Don Heaverlo; Mobile, DT & Mike Jarvis; Base, Steve Lathrop, Kim Nichols, Bill Gray.
First of all, select and scout your base station sites. This was already underway as we arrived in Perth, Ray Foxon having been dispatched with land cruiser and charts. But this was to prove unproductive as the vehicle got bogged down, leaving Ray with a 28 kilometer hike to get help at the local leprosarium, after which he decided it may be more productive and lucrative to wander around in the bush out Kalgoorlie way. So he took off for a few months, prospecting.
Still no station sites. But a quick trip to the Land and Surveys department in Perth provided us with charts of the area and descriptions of the selected sites; and only 20 years old! No wonder the fee seemed so reasonable.
Day one in the Derby area provided us with one site only. After much searching and questioning, it was discovered the reason for our lack of success was that the road we were following (the only one) replaced the road shown on the chart about eight years earlier, and ran quite a way south of the original!
Still, we did have one site, and
it should definitely be easier to find it the next
time since we could just follow the trail of
destruction through the bush caused by Don
Heaverlo's "point and stop" method of arriving
there. That is, "point" the vehicle at the desired
high ground and "stop" when you hit it. It took 75
minutes to get to the base of the hill the first
time, but this was later reduced to 30 mins once
the trail was blazed.
On one memorable occasion, I
donned my Mario Andretti driving gloves and Jackie
Stewart sunglasses, then, accompanied by old Mike
"White Knuckles" Jarvis, I managed to lower the
record to 15 minutes; and figured we could have
shaved an odd minute or two off that if we could
have kept the wheels in contact with the ground a
greater percentage of the time! (Mike, by the way,
hardly spilled a drop of his gin and lemonade.
Mind you, it didn't get much of a chance to
Still, the site was located, and mountain goats Gray and Nichols, along with Don, set out to install the equipment. Luckily, it was a low power system, so the camp, radio, and generators remained at the base of the hill. Hopefully, we won’t require Billy to "blink his signal" too often.
With Steve Lathrop settled in at his station, after fighting off the flies, and a brief encounter with a large snake of unknown species, (when Don got through with it, what was left was of the Toyotas Crushus variety); and a quick visit from Paul Vegas and his JMR to conjure up a set of coordinates for the first station - the originals having mysteriously disappeared from the Land and Survey office in Perth - we were ready to go. And it was a bit anti-climatic shooting in 30 foot tides and 10 knot currents of the King Sound. In fact, we were completing the prospect at such a pace, the client was adding lines almost as fast as we shot them, in order to use up their ten day turnkey budget.
We did find time to
spend the odd hour in the Spinifex Hotel, in Derby, and
the Roebuck, in Broome, but that's another story.
Crosstalk September 1982
NORTH TO ALASKA
As the song by Johnny Horton goes, it isn't the end of the world up here, but you can see it. Travelling with all the cold weather clothing someone from the South usually has stored in a box in the attic, a few cans of Tony Chacheres Creole Seasoning, Zatarains crab boil, and a gallon of Louisiana oysters for area manager Mike Zitzmann, I was ready for my second summer in Alaska.
I was to be operating the Austron 5000 Loran-C system onboard the M/V Cecil H Green II, a new GSI boat. This vessel, like her predecessor, was named after GSI's founder, Cecil Green. It is powered by two caterpillar 399 diesels which combine to produce 1250 horsepower that can push her along at 13 knots. There is a fuel capacity of 78,000 gallons and enough fresh water to last a 35 man crew 45 days without a port call. (Not one of the more popular specs, among the crew. ) The dog house is stocked with the latest GSI and TI seismic exploration equipment.
My first night was spent in Anchorage.
This was followed by a 4 ½ hour charter flight in a Casa
212 twin turbine flying at 8,500 feet, allowing for
maximum sightseeing ability. On the flight down, I saw
some familiar faces, like Greg Porter, who after about 30
days at sea, does a great monkey impersonation.
Arriving in Dutch Harbor and seeing it just the same as you left it last year, brings a certain feeling only someone who has been there could understand. Dutch is a small fishing village next to the township of Unalaska, Alaska. (I don't know where that name came from.) Combined, these two locations have a population of 1500 year round residents climbing to 5500 during king crab season.
The island has a rich heritage of Aleut Indians, and National Geographic was doing a story on them while we were in port. The island is sprinkled with reminders from WWII. There were 60,000 troops stationed here during the war and they left signs to show it. One can explore old bunkers, ammo dumps and look out towers built right inside a mountain, or inside one of only two bars in town.
The Cecil H Green II had just arrived after a long voyage up from the Bahamas, and it was time to get the Loran-C up and operational, then go to work. Shooting went slowly at first with some client equipment problems. Such is the case with any new vessel. Field service personnel from Dallas were called in to aid the crew, and after a while things seemed to be coming together.
The St George Basin area was the scene of our shoot. After about two weeks with everything going smoothly, things started happening. It was one of the fiercest battles I have seen in my seismic days. It started with a large soundwave appearing on the observer's scope, then there was another, and another. Everyone asked, "What can this be?" Finally, party manager Les States turned and said, "This is Seismic Wars!" Instead of falling headlong into battle with our impressive gun array, Les decided on a diplomatic approach. Lines of communication were opened and a timesharing method of shooting was set up between the 9 boats that were in our area. Before it was all over, the number had climbed to 15. We had to fight for every kilometer shot.
After a much needed port call, we
prepared for our next prospect, an area some 600 miles
west-north-west of Dutch Harbor, where more adventures of
Seismic Wars awaited. Ray Evans
Crosstalk July 1985
When Gordon Owen phoned from London to my retreat in the solitude of the Yorkshire Wolds, it was mid-winter, and we were in the grip of the coldest winter in twenty years. There was really no reason for him to ask if I was ready to travel to Southern Africa. I was mentally packed before I replaced the phone. Not only would it be warm down there, in contrast to the North Sea where we seem to spend much of our time these days, but the job also promised a bit of the adventure that used to be a common feature in our work, but is sadly lacking in the health and safety conscious environment of the North Sea. It would be good to get back to fighting the elements,... or would it?
Departure from bleak and strike bound England was in mid-February. Air Zimbabwe, London to Harare, a ten hour stopover, then on to Maputo on Lineas Areas de'Mozambique. Our 707 arrived over Harare a few minutes after a typically spectacular African sunrise, when the captain announced that as this was his final flight before retiring, he was taking the liberty of making a low pass over the field before landing. He wasn't exaggerating. If there had been any stray giraffes around, they would have been goners, and I didn't suppose it would have done us a whole lot of good either!
The last time I was in Harare, Zimbabwe, was 22 years earlier, only it carried a different name then as did the country, but very little else seemed to have changed. Country and city names on this continent appear to change almost weekly, depending on whose turn it is to be president.
I boarded a 737 for Maputo, stopping en route in Beira. I was going to say briefly, but, as is often the way in Africa, we had to wait for a government official to board, and he didn’t rush, full knowing his airline would not dare leave without him.
In Maputo, we were required to change US $25 into local currency (called Meticais) before immigration would clear us into the country. Even the locals don't want Meticais, but I was now burdened with over 1000, and nothing to spend them on apart from postcards and postage stamps. At 25 Meticais each including postage, I would have required a London phone directory to select enough random recipients to whom to send them.
The hotel wasn't bad but the food was - until we sorted it ourselves. No hot water or air-conditioning, the usual power cuts, and the customary fixing of various non-working plumbing fixtures. The level of service requires no comment, besides, the scale doesn't go that low.
The job was a 2-D seismic operation, utilizing Maxiran. There was a Bell 206B on board the client vessel which allowed us to service the five unmanned base stations. The aircraft also came in handy for retrieving lost paravanes.ve Taylor
Beset by every problem known to the seismic industry, including some nasty weather, it was slow going, but eventually, we were able to complete the 2400 km survey in a little under six weeks. All that remained was a long flight back to London - after a brief delay in Johannesburg, and as far as I can recall, there are at least one hundred worse places to be delayed (Just remember, this was back in the 80s!). The weather had barely changed since my departure, but by mid April, the thermometer was nudging the high 50s. Dave Taylor
Crosstalk August 1977
Offshore Navigation Inc, and (CGG)Compagnie General De Geophysique, joined forces for a joint operation in The People’s Republic of Yemen (South Yemen). Twenty-six thousand kilometers of Aeromagnetic survey was to be flown. CGG provided the aircraft (a DC3) and the base stations. Whilst ONI supplied two additional base stations, with operators, and a party chief. A total of twelve base stations were occupied during the survey. The countryside was rugged, and progress was at a rate of around five kilometers per hour in some areas.
Food and water for the base stations was flown in from Djibouti. The aircraft crew, the interpretation crew, and the party chiefs were to suffer throughout the project by eating at local hotels, at which the special of the day seemed always to be goat.
Party Chief, Don Heaverlo, was presented with a baby goat (kid) on an early base station move. It was bottle fed and grew up to consume all the flowers and most of the of the leaves from the bushes at the Al Salam Hotel. The goat also became a mascot for the crew.
Mobile operator, Jess Thompson, completed a round-the-world trip during his assignment to the crew. Departing Singapore, he first flew to New Orleans for instructions and familiarization, then proceeded to Paris for the aircraft installation, before departing to Yemen. Upon completion of the job he returned to Singapore.
Don Heaverlo flew from Singapore to Bombay, where he joined up with our two base operators, Ran Sharma and Ratan Matoria. After obtaining visas they flew to Aden. Aden - under British rule - will be remembered by many travellers as being a shoppers’ paradise, the many duty-free shops open twenty-four hours a day. But with the introduction of Communism, the shopping area of Steamer Point was almost deserted. The few remaining shops dependant on sales to sailors from visiting Russian warships, and the odd merchant vessel. Food and service dispensed by the local hotels was both expensive and of poor quality. The two bright spots in Aden were in the form of a Chinese Restaurant, and the Diplomatic food store, where Western canned food could be purchased.
The base of operations was located at Seiyun, a large village in a fertile valley in the East Central area of Yemen. Our hotel, still under construction, was made from mud and straw bricks, plastered over and colourfully painted. The beautiful palace of the former Sultan of Seiyun is now headquarters of the local command. Because of the tense situation within the country, the army provided us with base station guards, and an escort during station moves. Though delays of up to two days could be experienced while trying to obtain permission from Army Headquarters in Aden to move through certain areas of the interior.
Various supplies were available from the
local market in Seiyun: Camels, Goats, Chickens, eggs,
tomatoes and many local vegetables. Bread was baked daily,
and local silversmiths offered many bargains in bracelets
CGG personnel worked very hard to make this survey the great success it was. Recalling a few of the many personnel assigned to the project - Patrick Fouchard, CGG The project ended on a high note with a dinner and dance given by the Petrol and Mineral Board at the Yemen Club, in Aden. A belly dancer was present to entertain us, and after the show the dance floor was crowded with men as the band played on. Heaverlo entertained thoughts of asking someone for a dance, but decided against it for fear that the man may refuse him! Don Heaverlo
Crosstalk September 1982
We were starting up a seismic job in the Arabian Gulf off the coast of Qatar. Three base stations were going to be used. Two base stations were set up along the coast of Qatar. The third station was being installed on an abandoned offshore drilling rig that was located about 80 miles off the coast. This configuration gave us good angle coverage of the work area. The abandoned drilling rig we were using was a jack up type. It had suffered a blow out the year before, and burnt up. Eighteen Arab workers had been killed in the fire. The derrick had collapsed and the whole rig was pretty well gutted. The highest point remaining on the rig was the helipad. It was tilted over at a 30 degree angle toward the sea but it still had a hand rail on it.
The base operator for the rig station was Snidley Crocked. Snidley had hired a local fellow named Ahmad to be his camp helper. Ahamad was Palestinian and didn't think very much of the local Arabs. Snidley and Ahmad got all their equipment together and loaded it on board an Arab dhow they had hired in Doha. They set sail early one morning, arriving at the rig late that night. The Arabs wouldn't pull up to the rig at night because they believed it was haunted by the ghosts of the men killed in the blowout. The dhow held a quarter mile off of the rig for the rest of the night, and the crew went fishing.
At first light the dhow pulled up to the stairway on the side of the rig and offloaded the equipment. As soon as all the gear was off of the dhow the Arabs sailed off leaving Snidley and Ahmad to cart the gear up the stairway by themselves. The equipment was installed on the first landing on the stairway. The coax was run up to the helipad and the antenna tied to the hand rail at the top. Everything was up and ready in a day.
Snidley had been on the station several days and was fairly well organized. The seismic boat had not yet shown up in the work area so Snidley didn't have his generators running. Snidley was fond of his scotch and usually had a mild glow on by late afternoon. He was laying back in his cot nursing a warm scotch and water when he noticed a fleet of Arab fishing dhows slowly approaching from the west. The dhows came to within 100 yards of the rig then put out their nets in hopes of fish. Fish tend to congregate around offshore structures, feeding on the barnacles and other incrustations that attach themselves to the legs of the structures. The Arab fisherman, unaware the rig was inhabited, went methodically about their tasks in the manner of fishermen the world over.
Snidley, his devious mind always churning, had an idea. He and his camp helper covered themselves with sheets. The two of them then climbed up the inside of the rig to the helipad. The sun was just starting to sink below the sea to the west. The last golden rays of day, glinting off the gentle swell of the Arabian Gulf, bathed the charred wreckage of the rig in an eerie orange glow. Crocked, who certainly was, and his camp helper, completely covered with their sheets leaped out onto the helipad. They started running around the edge of the helipad gripping the handrail, yelling whooo, whooo. They made an impressive spectacle, these two sheeted figures illuminated by the dying light of day, running around the helipad, wailing like banshees, where 18 Arabs had perished the year before. As a matter of fact the spectacle was so impressive that all the fishing dhows cut their nets and hauled off into the sunset. Soon the only signs of the dhows recent presence were the bits of netting drifting on the placid waters.
Snidley was out there for another two months and never did see another fishing boat. No name, but it reads like an Al Devoe piece to me. DT
Crosstalk March 1976
Egypt Is generally regarded as a rough assignment, and on the whole that is true. This is brought about by the fact that no one element of the operation is good, or even average, by US standards. This includes the environment, food, accommodations, political atmosphere, working conditions, etc, etc. Even the beer is bad! But out of all this, there is one saving grace; the fact that Egypt is home to some of the most fascinating, spectacular, and historically important monuments of a long dead civilization.
The first opportunity the crew had of visiting some of these sites was in early January. Our vessel, the Western Geophysical I, broke a propeller shaft on December 31st, and it was decided that as the boat would be out of service for "a few days", the crew would take a break in Cairo.
Once in the capital, a taxi was organized, and after much hassling, a price agreed on that undercut most of the tour operators by around 75%. A fifteen minute drive, most of it being stationary, in traffic, found us at the site of the Great Pyramids of Giza.
After spending some time wandering around, inside and out of these technological marvels, a great discovery was made, and many fine close-up photographs taken by Tony Yon-Gallart of a find obviously overlooked by Egyptologists and tourists alike. Wedged amongst these gigantic limestone blocks was what appeared, at first sight, to be an ordinary cardboard container, but when the inscription thereon was deciphered, it was found to read, Colonel Sanders Kentucky Fried Chicken. How well indeed those ancient Egyptians lived! It was also discovered at this stage, by two members of the party, that for "heavy bakshish" (tip or bribe), they would be allowed to climb to the top of the largest pyramid. This, I figured, was apparently akin to paying someone to be allowed to set their station for them atop a 400ft hill! It took the participants two days to recover from this escapade.
Next day, a trip to the National Museum - conveniently situated next to the Nile Hilton Hotel (or was it the other way around?) - was well worth the time taken. Indeed, it would take a week to see everything in this building, the first six days being required to dust off the display cases.
Further expeditions at this stage had to be curtailed due to the fact that the boat was due back from Suez in three days, so we departed to return to our base at Hurgharda, on the Red Sea coast.
After a wait of two days, and no word from the client, we took a trip to Ras Shukhier, the Amoco base, to check on the situation. From there, a call to Cairo revealed that, as the boat had been unable to get up the slipway in Suez, it was now destined to go to either Alexandria or Malta, so we were free to proceed on break for a "few" more days.
Everyone having had their fill of Cairo, which, apart from the sites already visited, had little else to offer with the exception of an insatiable appetite for money, it was decided to head across to Luxor.
Providing one is prepared to withstand the barrage of security requirements, paperwork and negotiation, needed to complete the trip from the Red Sea area to this non-military zone along the Nile, then the trip is well worth the effort. The area around Luxor once being one of, if not the, most important city in the world, it offers to the visitor an almost unequalled insight into life 5000 years ago.
Crosstalk July 1977
A HOT WIND FROM ZAIRE
Survey boat M/V Fairsurvey, shooting boat M/V Fairwind
Recently, I had the fortunate experience of
seeing an "old but new" seismic operation called
Teleseis. What I mean by the term "old but new" is that
it has been around for some time, but only recently have
Fairfield Industries put it to its most efficient use.
This was done by using up-to-date seismic recording
equipment and associated hardware, along with personnel
who have years of experience with both land and marine
operation uses 30 to 40 small VHF transmitting buoys,
with geophones attached, to pick up energy returns from
beneath the sea-bed. Energy is generated either by
airguns, or 5Ib dynamite charges. Each VHF buoy is
attached to a Norwegian buoy, and anchored at intervals
down the line. In this case, they were located at 50
meter intervals by ONI's first coded, X-Band positioning
system. The phase of this type of operation which most
attracted the Zaire Gulf Company, the client's
principal, was the ability to tie marine seismic data to
land seismic data. This was achieved, during some very
"hairy" moments, as our George Ferguson will testify.
George would lay the buoys into the beach, as far in as
possible, most of the time dodging 6 to 10 ft breakers
in his small, flat bottom survey boat.
As George put it,
"it's like riding a surfboard".The land crew would then
continue placing buoys across the beach, into a mangrove
swamp, cutting a trail as they went. Sometimes, the
lines extended a kilometer or more into the jungle and
swamp. This land work was often watched by suspicious
Zairean soldiers, who decided one time that our
Colombian surveyor was a communist guerrilla from Angola
- a few miles down the coast. At gunpoint, they took our
surveyor off to jail for questioning. He was finally
released, unharmed but very shaken. (Zairean and
Moroccan troops were engaged in bitter battle against
communist guerrillas who crossed the south-eastern
border of Zaire, from Angola.
During the operation,
George Ferguson suffered a very painful experience. One
of his fingers was crushed while securing his survey
vessel to the mother ship. There was a 6-8 knot current
running, which made maneuvering extremely difficult and
dangerous. George was rushed by a small, fast boat 12
miles to a village called Banana, at the mouth of the
Congo River. Upon arrival, late at night , he found the
road between Banana and Moanda, where the doctor was
located, had been partially washed away by a high tide.
A large crane was the only means of crossing the washed
out road, which George painfully rode. He finally
arrived at the clinic, exhausted and in extreme pain. It
was feared at first that he would lose part of his
finger, but this was later found not to be the case, to
everyone's relief. George returned to work on the survey
boat within a few days.
The coded, X-band
system, proved to be an ideal navigational tool for this
type of operation - its first use. By coding the X-band
system, problems arising from using three or more
frequencies with the un-coded system are eliminated.
Codes are used to identify each base station, instead of
separate frequencies. This allows all base transponders
to be on the same transmit/receive frequencies, and to
be interchangeable. It also eliminates the requirement
for two mobile transponders, with their associated
rotors and horn antennas. The coded system requires only
one mobile transponder with an omni antenna. It was very
gratifying to see all the effort put in by NOLA shop
personnel - especially Jim McCain - make the coded,
X-band system pay off, even if, at the beginning of the
George went several days without sleep, fighting problems, mostly caused by poor logistics, and extreme heat in the base transponders. On many occasions, we required helicopter support to move base transponders, and to replace battery packs. Zaire Gulf had two PHI Jetrangers working in the area, and they came to our rescue several times on a minute’s notice. Both pilots, Steve Brayden and Don Wilson, were a pleasure to work with, even though they had to work in anything but ideal conditions. Their helicopter support was first class, and I have yet to see better. Shortly before my departure, guerrillas operating a few miles up the coast, had threatened to destroy Gulf Oil's Cabinda offshore tank farm. They had obtained several surface-to-air missiles, which they advertised would do the job nicely. The guerrillas’ deadline came and went, and the off-shore tank farm (which we could see) didn't explode, to everybody's relief. A few days after my departure, Trevor Loose arrived to act as George's back-up. The operation was progressing so fast that the base transponders had to be continually re-located. Last word from George was that they would complete the job around June 27, 1977. Dave Clayton
Crosstalk September 1980
FROM HERE TO ETERNITY
I recently completed my first trip abroad for ONI, and what a trip it was! Someone from accounting was required in Sydney, Australia, to meet with the Registered Accountant (the equivalent of a CPA in the States) who is handling the formation of our Australian subsidiary.
Upon arriving in Sydney, I was met at the airport by the accountant and shown a little of the city before I crashed, suffering from what I was sure was terminal jet lag. During the night, John Coffman arrived, and we met for breakfast before going to the accountants office. We held two days of meetings, but were able to include trips to the Gap and Bondi Beach (a nude beach), as well as a nightime foray into the Kings Cross area of Sydney,
I had brought my jogging clothes with me and had every intention of running every morning, especially since the temperature was staying in the low 70s. However, after the first few days, I could see from the hours we were keeping that I would be lucky if I got to run at all. Before leaving New Orleans, it had been decided that I should also go to Perth and Singapore to conduct mini-audits of these offices. So, Wednesday, John and I were up early to catch the TAA (Trans Australia Airlines) flight to Perth.
In Perth, I met the office gang of Ted Patro, Ron Rounds, and Sandy Clitheroe. Also in town were the likes of Gordon Owen and Dave Taylor, a motley crew if there ever was one. John and I stayed until Saturday and then flew Qantas to Singapore. One of the last things I remember of Perth was seeing Ted and Ron being propped up by the bar, Gordon having just made friends with a guy standing about 6' 6", and Dave stumbling off mumbling to himself. The saner members of the gang had retired earlier.
We arrived in Singapore on Saturday night, and I figured I could, at last, do some sightseeing, since nothing was planned for Sunday. I went on a city tour Sunday morning and arrived back at the hotel in time for Ian Easterbrook and Eric Amohanga to call. First visit was to the Beefeater, where we had drinks and lunch. Later, we had drinks at the Tangle Inn, and we met some GSI and Digicon people, and, following that, we went to The Grove, where we had more drinks. By this time, I learned that I could not hope to keep pace with these guys, so I was careful to order a sufficient quantity of straight coke during the day in order to keep my wits about me.
Eric and I walked to the office Monday and I met the rest of the crew, including Anna Warmke, and the world famous, Jesse. I had begun hearing about Jesse in Sydney and Perth. (Even clients discussed her in reverent terms.) Well, after my stay I became a believer. How she did what she did to my airline ticket I will never know, but that's another story.
The Ai Hou Kee Lounge had recently closed and the staff seemed lost without it. We had lunch at Jack's a couple of days where we met "Super Sarge" and "CIA George",
John Coffman and his wife had some of the staff and myself over a couple of evenings and I am grateful to them for their hospitality. lan Easterbrook's wife helped me buy some gifts in Singapore, and everyone I met with ONI could not have been nicer. Tommy McCormick
Crosstalk August 1977
PROJECT 870 - GULF OF TRIPOLI, LIBYA
Project 870 has been
underway offshore from the northwest coast of Libya for
about 15 months. Frank Allred, George Ferguson, Don
Heaverlo, Dieter Moser and Peter Studer have been the
ONI technicians assigned to the project at different
times. The project consists of furnishing Loran-C and
navigation satellite positioning services to locate
buoys and platforms for the drilling program of the
semi-submersible drilling rig "SCARABEO 3", owned by the
Italian company, Sipem. Libya is an Arab country on the
north coast of Africa. It is roughly the size of Alaska.
Tripoli (the capital) and Benghazi are the only large
Ninety percent of the
population live in approximately 10% of the total area,
primarily along the coast. Average population density is
only about 3.2 persons per square mile. Libya has a very
young population, about 44% being under 15 years of age.
For most of its history, Libya has been dominated by
foreign rule. In antiquity, various parts were ruled by
the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Greeks, Romans and
Byzantines. Although the Greeks and Romans left
impressive ruins, little else remains today of those
ancient cultures. Libya was conquered by the Arabs in
the 7th century, and has remained essentially Arabian
ever since, although it was under the domination of the
Ottoman Turks for almost 300 years, until it became an
Italian colony in 1911.
In December, 1951, Libya became the first country to achieve independence through the United Nations. It was proclaimed a constitutional and hereditary monarchy under King Idris. In September, 1969. the monarchy was overthrown and abolished, and the country was officially proclaimed the Libyan Arab Republic. Although drilling operations are being conducted in Libyan waters, the operation is actually controlled from, and the ONI equipment is stored in, the city of Siracusa, Sicily. In earlier well locations the equipment was stored on board one of Tidex International's vessels in Siracusa. Using Loran-C, updated by Transit satellite, the vessel would set the locations for the drilling rig anchors and for the rig itself. The equipment container would then be transferred piecemeal from the boat to the drilling rig, where it would determine the final rig position, based upon approximately 25 satellite passes.
|Since early 1977,
the crew has used a shipping container, approx 4 x
2½ x 2.3 metres, to permanently contain all the
navigational instruments and assorted power
supplies. With this new container, the crew achieved
much-needed mobility. For its first use, the
container shell, with a single undercoat of paint,
was put aboard the M/V Lisbeth Tide, along with the
instrumentation, paneling, insulation, cables, air
conditioner, etc needed for completion. The
container was completed at sea by the crew while
waiting for the rig-move.
After setting the buoy pattern, the container was ready to be taken aboard the rig. While the crane’s cables were being connected to the hook, everything seemed to fall into the drink as a four metre high wave carried the container across the afterdeck of the ship. Fortunately, no one was hurt. The crane took the container up onto the rig. The Loran-C kept running on standby power, and calibration was maintained. The difference between the Loran-C position and the final satnav position was about 24 metres.
Module under construction
at AGIPs Syracusa yard -
Peter Studer adds the
Ready for hoisting aboard Scarebeo 3 to take final fixes
Crosstalk November 1977
PROJECT 1055 CANADA
On July 13th (1977) we arrived in Frobisher Bay, located in the Northwest territories of Canada, on Baffin Island. ONI was contracted to provide radiopositioning services for Imperial Oil, an affiliate of Exxon. The job was scheduled to last about two months, with two boats using DR Raydist nets set up on Baffin Island shortly before their arrival. Our party consisted of Joe DeLerno, Station Technician Jim Boney and Party Chief Mike Carlson.
This particular arctic area was something new to us all. We had pored over the maps and talked long distance to the people we had been working with up here, but, as in many situations, the theory and reality didn't quite coincide. The area wasn't much different from what we expected as far as terrain and living accommodations went, however, the weather had been underestimated to an extent, along with prices and availability of supplies.
Our first concern was to set up three Raydist stations along the eastern coast of Baffin Island; Cape Mercy, Cape Murchison - situated on Brevoort Island - and the third on Resolution Island, to the south. We would be working closely throughout the job with Apex Helicopter personnel, and expected to learn a lot of useful information about the area and its problems from them. Their help, not only in providing advice, but organizing the base station camp supplies, was invariable.
The weather proved to
be the worst problem facing us. The Bell Jetranger which
would be used for station mobilization was four days
late in arriving at Frobisher Bay due to inclement
weather. It finally arrived on July 17th, and the next
day we set out for Cape Murchison with a fully loaded
Twin Otter fixed-wing aircraft and the helicopter. The
island was fogged-in, and the Otter was forced to put
down on Allen Island, where there was a 600-foot
limitation of runway on the tundra. At the end of the
runway the left wheel dug into the soft soil, swinging
the aircraft around. The plane was then completely
unloaded and, with the help of some Eskimos from a small
camp nearby, the wheel dug out . We were then left in
the middle of nowhere with the camp supplies and the
helicopter, the Otter returning to Frohisher.
At this time, we had no idea what the intended site looked like off the map, or if it was feasible to use. Later that day, after many helicopter trips, most of the equipment was moved to the Brevoort airstrip through windows in the fog. Most of the time, visibility in the fog was about 100 feet. Miraculously, the Twin Otter was able to return later that night with a cache of helicopter fuel. Cold and somewhat depressed, we returned to Frobisher, hoping for clearing weather and another try next day. It looked much better the following day, so we flew out to scout the site. The coastline looked austere and hostile as we cruised along. A site for landing the helicopter was finally settled on; where the helicopter could be landed and capable of moving within a couple of hours, regardless of how beautiful the sky might look at the time. So with great haste we began transferring the equipment to the site. At last we were rolling. The JMR satellite positioning receiver was set up and commenced taking data that would eventually tell us exactly where we were. This was the only surveying method used at this location, while the other two had conventional transit, and electrotape surveys done.
By the end of the day
there was a working DRS base station on Brevoo Island
and our spirits were lifted despite the cold and
discomfort. Joe DeLerno flew north to check out the Cape
Mercy area, returning next day to report that it looked
rougher than the one we were presently at! We
decided to set up the southern station at Resolution
Island, and were en-route the next day with two aircraft
and station equipment. True to form, the weather turned
back the Twin Otter, but the helicopter landed on the
island in heavy fog. Unable to find its fuel cache, or
return to Frobisher, pilot, Joe Kreke, was stranded
overnight in the helicopter somewhere on the island. The
fog began breaking next morning, and it was discovered
that the helicopter had set down very close to its
intended destination. Hurrah for dead reckoning.
The abandoned BEWS
(Ballistic Missile Early Warning) site, which used to be
a large joint United States and Canadian Air Force
Continental Air Command defense installation, could be
seen breaking through the fog high on the cliff. We flew
over to the airstrip, refueled, and picked out a good
site for the tower and the tent. We weren't sure when
the Twin Otter would be able to fly in with the bulk of
the equipment, but we had brought enough with us to get
a good start on the preliminaries of setting up the
station. By the time the Otter arrived in the afternoon,
the holes for the anchors had been drilled in the rocks
and the anchors secured with an epoxy substance. The
pilot and I made a trip to the DEW (Distant Early
Warning) line site and did some worthwhile scavenging,
coming up with all sorts of useful items for the
campsite; mattresses, 100 Ib propane tanks, and
materials for a windbreaker.
The windbreaker was not part of the initial plan, but after a few hours in the open air, or even in the tent, the chill factor was definitely too bad to ignore. There was also the danger of the tent collapsing from constant wind buffeting. Materials for these makeshift structures were hard to come by in that part of the world. The two stations near the DEW Line site were better off than the most northern one at Cape Mercy, since lumber and other materials could be collected for them. Cape Mercy was the "problem child" of the three, the closest landing strip being a hundred miles away in the little fjord village of Panguirtung, Many helicopter trips were required to get the equipment to the site from Pang, where it had to be dropped off by the fixed-wing. The terrain at the site was ambivalently hostile and beautiful. There was not a tree or bush to be seen in this area, and rocks of all sizes and shapes constituted the ground, with sparse tundra grass between them. The view of the open sea was magnificent, and we considered ourselves lucky to have arrived on such an out-of-character, clear, sunny day. The making of the windbreaker was a problem until Joe suggested using guyed spare tower sections with a tarp draped across them which worked out quite well.
At long last, two days before the planned deadline on July 28th, the three stations were set up and operating to the satisfaction of our hardy Tech, Jim Boney. We all breathed a sigh of relief. The boat, R/V Kirsten Bravo, was not scheduled to arrive until about the fourth of August, with ONI navigators, Joe Cyprowski and Kevin Kottermann. We passed the surveying data to New Orleans, and gave our progress report happily to Pat Matthews, who had been the primary coordinator of the job from the beginning, along with Joe DeLerno. The Electrotape portion of the survey was done by two rather inexperienced operators of that particular piece of equipment. Joe DeLerno and myself, and we were happy to hear that the data came out well. The rest of the job would be primarily keeping the transmitters operating, and supplying the base station operators. These Canadians were as fine a group of competent guys as one could hope to work with, and were looking forward to seeing a few polar bears before the end of the job.
One more station would have to be set up to the south of Resolution Island at a later date, when the boat began working that area. This final station would be unmanned and powered by a thermal generator, fuelled by propane. Another boat, the Seismariner, would arrive about the twelfth of September, for five hundred miles of work.
Joe DeLerno and Apex pilot, Kreke, left Frobisher Bay on the twenty-seventh of July, leaving Jim and myself, with Jim planning to make his departure shortly after the arrival of the boat. The eastern arctic was a new experience for ONI, and we all learned a Iot. The prospects for returning next year look favourable, and we hope the experience gained this summer will help us over the "bumps in the future. Mike Carlson
Crosstalk April 1967
PROJECT 257- IRAN
It was a beautiful afternoon, September 30, as we drove out along the four lane highway leading to the modern Beirut International Airport, leaving behind the night clubs, casinos and neo-modern apartment dwellings at the crossroads of the Middle East.
Party 257 was on its way to a new project in Southern Iran. Personnel included Middle East Supervisor, Fred Muller, Mobile Operator, Dieter Mackenthun and Base Station Operators Mike Goodsir and Bob Brown.
At the airport we said goodbyes and boarded the SAS 707 Boeing Jet; and a couple of hours later we landed in Tehran, capital of Iran. Here we checked into a modern hotel, the last of civilization we were to see for some time. So, with a supply of food, we boarded a DC6 for the journey to Shiraz, where we made a hasty transfer from DC6 to DC3 for the last leg of the trip. We landed an hour or so later at Lengeh Airport, a dirt strip about five, miles from town, from whence we proceeded by Landrover to Lengeh. It was not too difficult to locate, Ted Zimny, who had preceded us with the equipment, was already settled down in a mud house - the only kind of house in Lengeh - which was to he our home for the next few months.
The following day, a single-masted ship - known a "dhow" - was secured to take the Base Stations to the island sites. The captain had been highly recommended, and was said to have sailed to India and Africa, plus many other areas. But, that evening, when we contacted Ted, aboard the vessel, he said they were anchored near a village twenty miles up the coast. The captain had got lost on the thirty-mile trip to Firu Island!
At this point, Fred Muller made a hasty trip to the village where the dhow was anchored, to give the captain and owner of the dhow his opinion of the captain's navigational qualities, in not too polite a fashion. The following day the captain found the island, possibly due to the fact that he could see it, rather than to the verbal description given him by Fred.
On this operation, Shoran worked with Toran, the French navigational system used by Compagnie Generate de Geophysique. Toran had four Stations; one an island station and three located along the coast. Shoran had two Island stations, Siri and Firu, however, the latter was changed at the end of December, and is now in the mountains west of Lengeh.
Mike Goodsir is getting along famously with his fellow inhabitants (the Iranian Navy) on Siri Island and enjoying the excellent underwater diving available a couple of minutes
from his station. Only once or twice has he been chased from the water by the great number of jellyfish.
Bob Brown, sitting atop his 1763-foot mountain, amuses himself by looking among the rocks for diamonds or gold, as yet unsuccessfully. In other moments of inactivity, his occupation has been that of securing his supply of eggs and tending his chickens.
Maybe Dieter Mackenthun has the best deal of all, aboard he M V Centaure. He enjoys marvellous French cuisine, and now and then makes a visit to Dubai to purchase goods duty free.
With the operation
nearing completion, everyone is looking forward to a
short break to recover: Mike from his jellyfish scares:
Bill from his chicken tending, and Dieter, I suppose,
from his French cuisine. Ron Coupe
Crosstalk April 1967
KANGAROO KORNER RECAP
Project 117 Darwin, NT, Australia
Project 117 completed work in the Arafura Sea for Shell Development (Australia) under contract to Western Geophysical Company of America, on January 8, 1967. Project 117 crew is closing down operations, completing nearly three years of continuous work on the Northern Coast of Australia and New Guinea. As farewells were sounded, the Offshore personnel headed for new assignments.
Proceeding with the Western crew to Borneo will be Jim O'Reilly, Don Heaverlo and Lou Folse. They will join up with a Shoran crew! Ted Patro left for Onslow in West Australia for temporary duty, relieving Supervisor Fred Haar for holidays; then Ted is off home with his new Australian bride for a well-earned vacation - his first trip to America in three years.
Dave Carpenter was seen headed south on his Yamaha motorbike. Late news flashes report that after 1000 miles in the sun, heat and dust of the great outback of Australia, he boarded a plane in Alice Springs and is presently resting in Melbourne. Anyone interested in purchasing a motorbike can contact Dave through the Sydney office.
Other personnel taking a break prior to re-assignment are Charles Boyd, Ron Thiel and Rich Longton. Ray Clement, also on break, is reputed to be secretly engaged to a Aussie girl on Yam Island in the Torres Straits. (PS. Her father owns the island?)
In 1966, Project 117 began work in New Guinea. From there it went to Darwin and worked down the coast to Barrow Island, returned to Darwin and worked east to Thursday Island, then back to Darwin. So, to all who tire of punching that time clock, keep your ears open for news of 117's return to work. We guarantee adventure plus!
Ted Patro married the former Faye Chesson in Port Moresby on March 7. Ted is Supervisor on Project 117.
Jim O'Reilly, married the former Tim Goddard on Hammond Island in the Torres Straits on August 6. Jim is en route to a new assignment in Borneo.
Dan Petterson, Offshore Raydist, married the former Mary Ann Dunne on Thursday Island, September 8. Don is now working with a crew in New Zealand.
Rich Longton, Australian Supervisor, married the former Pam McDonald in Sydney on October 22. Rich maintains Offshore Navigation’s Australian office near the Sydney airport in Kingsford.
Ron Caraway, married the former Jill Callahan in Melbourne on October 15. Ron is working in Onslow, W Australia.
With pride, this reporter states that
for the third New Year's Eve in a row, Project 117
personnel have abstained from drink. This year we sailed
for the work area on December 24, returning to Darwin on
January 8, 1967. On New Year's Eve of 1965, the crew
sailed on 31st December, en route to New Guinea; and, in
New Guinea in 1964, the crew sailed from Port Moresby on
the December 29th for the work area. Don Heaverlo
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