Shell Tanker – HAMINEA

It’s been a month since my last post….

I finally got a chance to update my blog today. This is the continuation of my voyage on the H-Class.

The HAMINEA, pictured below is by all respects similar to its sister ships HALIA and HATASIA which were the subjects of my previous posts. There are few minor differences in the locations of the navigational equipment on the bridge and cargo control room. Built in 1994, the H-Class are sophisticated ships at that time with fully integrated Norcontrol systems . It is the only type of ship that I served on wherein the Captain’s cabin is fitted with its own radar, gyro compass repeater and believe it or not, its own coning device! So basically, the old man can navigate the ship from his cabin. Like any other system, it has its pros and cons. Some of the Norcontrol stations have to be locked to prevent curious staff from fiddling with it.

Above is the HAMINEA sporting the original red livery. When I joined her at Singapore by beginning of September 2003, she has been repainted with black hull and buff funnel which became the new standard color scheme of Shell Tankers. I liked the blood-red livery and the Shell pecten proudly displayed on conspicuous locations. What I heard from my colleagues, Shell wanted to camouflage its ships with common colors  to prevent media frenzy in any case of unwanted incident, i.e. collision, grounding and particularly oil spill. This was just speculation brought perhaps by the greatest oil spill disaster known to maritime industry, the grounding and consequent oil spill of the EXXON VALDEZ. After the incident that drove EXXON into bankruptcy,  all other oil majors started hiding their proud logo and identifiable livery from their ships. BP, MobilTexaco and Chevron along with Shell made their ships look like any other common tankers plying the international waters.

HAMINEA was one of the most challenging ship I ever served as Chief Officer due to complex cargo operations handling both dirty and clean petroleum. After the loading of products parcel form Bukom Refinery, we sailed down south to New Zealand. We discharged our cargo on several ports from Whangarei to  Auckland, Tauranga, Napier, Wellington, Lyttleton and final disport was New Plymouth. Below is a simple map of New Zealand showing our ports of call.

Immediately after the ship was emptied, we had to sail offshore to backload Maui crude oil at FPSO Whakaaropai. The terminal is a converted tanker and moored in over 100 meters depth about 50 nautical miles west of New Plymouth. Below is the photo of the FPSO with her dedicated standby support vessels.

The ship moors in tandem from the stern of the FPSO and crude oil is pumped through a floating hose. The H-Class have inherent stability problem when loading cargo and simultaneous deballasting. This is due to the u-shaped ballast tank that causes massive free surface moment when the ballast water level is between the cargo tank compartment. This was easy to deal with when within the breakwater because the tank can be emptied before the critical moment, however, it was not possible offshore because the displacement of the ship must be maintained to at least 25% of summer deadweight. Loss of GM could go over 3.5 meters when the loading and deballasting is mishandled so we need to be extra careful at all times. If the ship’s GM goes negative, it will just roll over to the point of return particularly with the seas and swell in that location. Our first loading was full of anxiety but we managed to get the job done safely.

After unmooring from the FPSO, we then sailed across to Australia to the famous Sydney harbour. Maui crude needs to be heated throughout the voyage to maintain its pour point. The photo below was taken inbound on the approach to the world-renowned Opera House.

The harbour pilot carefully guides the ship to our designated berth at Gore Bay terminal which is on 10 hectares of land in Greenwich. The ship was moored right across the bustling central business district. Discharging on this terminal was 10 folds stricter than any parts of the world because of the pollution incident that occurred in August 1999. An Italian tanker lost 300 tons of crude oil into the water while discharging her cargo on the very same berth we were tied up. That was the biggest crisis that Shell had to deal with since the terminal was opened in 1901. Anyway, our discharging went well including the crude oil washing operations. Another restriction on that terminal is that the noise must be ceased after sunset because the residents on Greenwich would complain of public disturbance.   Since the ship is fitted with cargo pumps on the deck, it was impossible to lower the noise levels to their requirement so we had to stop pumping overnight. The delay made the boys very pleased because they get more chances of hopping on the ferry and stroll around Sydney’s CBD.

The photo below was taken as we sail out of the harbour and prepare for tank cleaning at least 50 nautical miles off the nearest coast.

Hot water washing commences as soon as we are out of harbour limits and it would take at least 5 hectic days to get the ship ready to load clean petroleum products. The tank cleaning procedure includes another cold seawater washing then final freshwater flushing. It would be too technical to detail the cleaning techniques on this blog. There is of course the Marpol requirement on dumping wash water to the sea so we had to wait for settling time before decanting. This impedes the continuous tank cleaning operations consequently. Our haven is the Bass Strait which is between Australia and Tasmania.

With the ship fully cleaned and reinerted, we then sail towards Victoria and berthed on Shell Geelong Refinery. Product flushing needs to be performed before loading the multiple grades of petroleum. Our stay on this terminal is usually quiet with stoppages in loading while waiting for the availability of the cargo. Below is a photo of the peaceful Geelong.

After the ship is fully laden with multiple petroleum parcels, we then sailed across back to New Zealand to the same discharging ports we had during the initial voyage. After all products have been delivered, we then backload Maui crude oil at FPSO Whaakaropai. The ship then performs the same discharging and tank cleaning operations routine going back and fort Australia and New Zealand. I was onboard the HAMINEA until the last stain of dirty oil was cleaned off and then loaded with clean products. I signed off from Geelong before Valentine’s Day of 2004 just before she sailed back to Singapore.

My next post will be about the HAUSTRUM, another memorable ship I served on, so check back again soon.

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