Another strange vessel, this time a heavy lift carrier carrying a massive drilling rig, was spotted anchored in Algoa Bay yesterday, writes Gareth Wilson.
The 217m Blue Marlin, a 51 000-ton semi-submersible vessel designed to transport various jackup rigs on its deck, is expected to leave the Bay by Monday, weather permitting.
Port of Ngqura harbour master Thulani Dubeko said the vessel had arrived on Wednesday afternoon to seek shelter from rough seas as it was transporting a rig.
“The vessel loaded the rig in Port Louis in Mauritius and is en route to Walvis Bay in Namibia, where it will be discharged,” he said.
The Blue Marlin, registered in Malta, is carrying a type of jackup rig, known as a self-elevating mobile platform – in this case, a type of oil rig platform.
A jackup rig consists of a buoyant hull with a number of movable legs, capable of rising over the surface of the sea. It is commonly used to provide drilling capabilities as it is stable while hovering above the sea surface.
The Blue Marlin was also hired by the US Navy to move the American destroyer USS Cole back to the United States after it was damaged by an al-Qaeda suicide bomb attack while anchored in the port of Aden, Yemen, in 2000.
In 2004, the Blue Marlin carried the world’s largest semi-submersible oil platform, BP’s Thunder Horse, from South Korea to Texas.
In January 2007, it was also contracted to move two other rigs from Halifax Harbour in Canada to the North Sea.
The Blue Marlin’s visit to the Bay comes a week after the Hua Hai Long, which is classified as a 30 000-ton heavy lift vessel, was seen anchored in the Bay for shelter.
The Chinese ship caused a stir in Port Elizabeth, with some residents comparing it to a spaceship.
The Hua Hai Long, however, did not dock in Port Elizabeth. It was transporting aquafarming cages to Norway.