Athens Group Services Surveyors Provides Tow Master and Installation Services
A major EPIC contractor engaged Athens Group Services surveyors to provide tow master and positioning/hook up services for the installation of a new 100,000+ ton FPU in the Gulf of Mexico.
In preparation for the tow out, the marine team including captains from the EPIC and Athens Group Services surveyors practiced maneuvering of the FPU using 6 tugs through the narrow channels leading out of La Quinta, through Corpus Christi and finally out to open water. Conditions including wind speeds, currents as well as contingency scenarios such as wind gusts, cross currents and tug break down in the channel during tow were practiced. The Simulators were later shipped and set up at the EPIC facility where more intense simulation scenarios were practiced with tug captains and pilots.
For the inshore portion of the tow out, 8 tugs with 4 harbor pilots were on board in compliance with regulatory requirements. Upon completion of the inshore tow, the harbor pilots disembarked via personnel basket and the harbor tugs were released. The FPU was then towed to the transition location for tow frame removal and ballasting. During this time, the FPU encountered some very rough seas and winds due to hurricane conditions. One of the tugs lost its engine and was unable to hold onto the line. The tug had to release the 3,000 ft tow line connected to the FPU which posed a challenge for the tow masters to move the FPU quickly into deeper waters to prevent the line snagging with any subsea asset.
Once on location, the FPU experienced a very strong loop current, which resulted in a decision to move the FPU 70 miles southward to find a weaker current segment in the loop. An installation vessel was connected in addition to the 4 tugs to bolster the tow power and cut across the loop band towards the center where the current was relatively weaker.When condition allowed the FPU was finally moved back to the installation location and 8 mooring lines necessary to establish storm safe conditions were installed. Upon successful completion of the storm safe hookup, Athens Group Services surveyors tow master departed the rig and began preparations for a second FPU installation.