Jebsen's Alladin - Ships Nostalgia

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Jebsen's Alladin

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Old 4th December 2012, 09:53
louis mair's Avatar
louis mair louis mair is offline  
Active: 1975 - 1998
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Jebsen's Alladin

Fitlike Eric! Ex-Alladinaut <fitlike> says of Jebsen’s ( “the offshore side was real good”. I wouldn’t quite go that far but I stuck it out longer on Jebsen’s Alladin than I did anywhere else. She must have had something going for her.

One factor in the Alladin story was Atle Jebsen. The maximo honcho of Jebsen’s Shipping was also on the Board of B.P. Norway. In 1982 B.P. Norway was looking for a semi-submersible drilling rig to work in Norwegian waters.

The Norwegian Government did not operate a protected economy at that time, (or so they said). They would allow a token foreign flag rig or supply boat to operate in Norwegian waters; from time to time. These vessels were usually old and technically inferior (on paper). Their license to operate could easily be withdrawn by requiring some of the bells and whistles that were being fitted to Norwegian new-build rigs and boats. This was not done to protect the welfare of Norwegian taxpayers; it was a matter of “safety”.

The Alladin may (on paper) have seemed to be a perfect fit for token rig of the year (1982). She was built in 1973 as the Waage I and she lacked the two-man cabins and automated derricks of the third generation rigs being built in Norway at that time. The Alladin was owned by Jebsen’s Drilling which (on paper) had nothing to do with Atle Jebsen. As she flew the Brutish Empire’s red duster flag she was a foreign flag rig. A contract was signed at a generous day-rate, hiring the Alladin and her crew to B.P. Norway for the next five years.

Our first job was in the late spring. To mark the occasion the Norwegian standby boat company brought out a beautiful little boat with a square stem. She looked like something from the 1930s; a subtle Norwegian way of saying that our rig was a museum-piece; in my interpretation.

The service company personnel who did specialist jobs for B.P. were all from Norwegian bases though some were native English-speakers. I had the impression that their initial fears about our competence soon turned to appreciation for our ability to get their jobs done with the minimum of embarrassing explanations to their bosses.

As part of his plan for world domination Atle Jebsen had crewed the Alladin with people who knew the Odeco Victory/Voyager class rigs and were technically competent. We were better paid than many and we had a full complement of the ‘slightly eccentric’. For one reason or another the Alladin had much higher morale than most of the rigs she was competing with.

One stormy night a packer that was supposed to be set by us deep under the seabed started to set itself at the top end of the cased hole. The packer decided to set each time the rig heaved down and then partially-release each time the rig heaved up. The service-hand who was going to have to write a report explaining this did not look happy; he seemed to have accepted that his days of working in the Norwegian sector were over. He was watching hevi-wate drill pipe moving up out of the rotary table then pausing before defying gravity once again. By sticking to the simple stuff and doing it quickly and competently we were able to recover from a seemingly hopeless quandary.

Rumour had it that the service-hand gave drink-money to our immediate supervisor as a token of his appreciation. At Norwegian drink prices that would have been no mean thank-you. I cannot say that I ever tasted that drink; it may have been an unfounded rumour though the ‘stuck-to-his-hand’ version of the story was also discussed in the coffee-shop.

I have happy memories of that coffee-shop. You could go in there late at night and see a member of the Antipodean minority washing his bell-end with milk. The Alladin had a full complement of the slightly eccentric which has a bearing on my theme of ‘high morale makes hole’.

By the end of that summer we had proved to the service-hands and anyone else who might have doubted it that with the money spent on Harvey Schnee designed modifications and a high-morale crew we could out-drill any rig in the North Sea and still have time for ‘dead fly’ impersonations on the catwalk. For the winter months we were scheduled to work in the English Imperial Sector, the Norwegians would only grant us exemptions from their more recent regulatory requirements during the summer months. I’m not sure at what point B.P. Norway informed B.P. Englandshire of the arrangements that they had made.

B.P. Englandshire in 1982 was more like a department of the Imperial Civil Service than an oil company. They would not have been impressed by the Alladin’s paper specification. We were given technically difficult jobs in areas where more modern rigs had experienced problems. The only way out of the contract for B.P. would have had to involve a major screw-up on our part. I can well remember our first B.P. Company Man back in imperial waters. He was from Fife and he turned out to be a really fine guy. The first impression was of a nervous guy who may have felt that he had been set up to take a fall. He asked detailed questions about drilling procedures that did not normally trouble Company Men. Within a few weeks he was visibly calmer. Well before the end of his six-month stint with us it was known that he had asked to stay on the Alladin for his next assignment. That was the kind of low-key but sincere compliment that encouraged us.

The Norwegian authorities upped the requirements before we could go back in the summer of 1983. This would have involved major expenditure on new accommodation. B.P. Bingoland’s ugly duckling went from a five-winter embarrassment to a 41/2 year sentence. However the new B.P. Company Men who arrived at six-month intervals generally seemed pretty relaxed. They received detailed written instructions from town which they copied and gave to the mostly Norwegian senior figures in the Drilling Department. These cunning Vikings then photo-copied the instructions and distributed copies so that anybody could read them. They always treated us like adults and only concerned themselves with the minor details in a positive way; if it helped to get the hole drilled.

B.P. had a graduate recruitment programme aimed at preparing suitable deep-soothers to be the future of the Imperial Civil Service’s Department of Other People’s Oilfields. One of these young hopefuls was of the female persuasion. By the time she arrived the Company Man was so relaxed about our competence that he didn’t get up until the middle of the morning. The young lady followed his lead for a time. However one morning for one reason or other she presented herself in the galley. The Night Cook had never seen her before and he began a long harangue about how many ways he could cook an egg. This was interrupted by a loud Torry voice from behind the young lady’s head, “How about a sausage roll?”. I don’t know what she expected as she turned around. What she saw was a finger roll wrapped around a large penis. The young lady left the galley faster than she came in. Pretty soon everyone who was awake on the rig had had a good laugh about the story. The Company Man was not awake at the time. When he did get up the young lady told him her version of the story and he had a good laugh too. ‘If you can’t take a joke you should never have joined’.

Those of us who had seen real-world oil companies in operation were amazed at the sheer volume of trivial details that B.P. recorded, collated and sent to town. We came to the conclusion that they were trying to ensure that there were plenty of numbers for the young generation of Emilys and Nigels to file away in the deep-sooth. This might have been part of the reason for the high volume of statistical data generated by drilling rigs on contract to B.P. I was later to be told that there was more to it than that. I shall return to the statistical legacy of Alladin’s B.P. contract, once I have selected a few more offshore incidents from The Alladin Saga.

The older generation of slightly eccentrics had been quietly competing to outdo each other in the gossip of the coffee-shop. This had encouraged a younger generation of apprentice eccentrics to try their hand at popular entertainment and steel-island-myth-making. There was no sad-and-dismal television to dumb-down people’s expectations in those days. The B.P. contract covered the period when reel-to-reel movies gave way to videos. A video of a horror-movie could be greatly enhanced in it’s entertainment value by a young pretender to the eccentric-of-the-month title.

First you catch a doo (pigeon) in a black bin liner (while you are on shift). Then you sneak into the horror-movie that you know the off-duty galley crew will be showing. You sit next to a talented bull-shitter whom you suspect to be a bag of nerves. At the scary bit in the movie you quietly lean over and let the doo out under his nose. In the ensuing confusion you quietly exit and return to your scrubbing brush. It was a bit cruel and heartless at times but if you wanted a high-morale rig with stories to tell, somebody had to do these things.

There was a bit of a clannishness or cosa nostra about the ...

Thirz mair:
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Old 4th December 2012, 17:50
BillH BillH is offline
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Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 3,606
8,308g. 4,879n. 320 x 293 x 128 feet rectangular platform.
Two, turbo charged engines of EMD 16-645-E9 type manufactured by General Motors Corp, Detroit, driving two, 2,100 Kilowatt, 600 V. A.C. generators, each connected to two electric 2,000shp., motors geared to twin screw shafts. 6 kts.
"Ocean Voyager" class/design self-propelled semi submersible drilling rig.
1973: Completed as WAAGE DRILL 1 by the Avondale Shipyards Inc., New Orleans, for KS Waage Drilling AS & Company, Norway.
1976: Sold to Aladdin drilling Activities AS, Norway, and renamed ALADDIN. (O.N. 18155).
1979: Sold to Jebsen Drilling Ltd., Norway.
1980: Transferred to Jebsen Drilling Plc., London. (O.N. 379944).
1990: Sold to J. Lauritzen AS, (Lauritzen Offshore AS, managers), Denmark, and renamed DAN BARONESS, under Bahamas flag. (O.N. 379944).
1993: Transferred to Lauritzen Shipping (Bahamas) Ltd., (same managers).
1996: Sold to Diamond Offshore Corporation, Houston, Texas, and renamed OCEAN BARONESS.
1997: Transferred to Panama flag (O.N. 23460-97).
2003: Transferred to Diamond Offshore Drilling Ltd., Aberdeen, (Diamond Offshore Corporation, Houston, managers), under Marshal Islands flag.
Not updated since 2004
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Old 5th December 2012, 09:27
tugboat tugboat is offline  
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Organisation: Merchant Navy
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Active: 1968 - 1992
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Brutish Empire?
English Imperial Sector?

I think you need to drink less or get your meds changed.
Maybe you have a chip on your shoulder because you're so crap at rugby?
Sheesh, get a life and be nice to people why don't you?
We like good manners here, we are well brought up seafarers here, and know the difference between humour and offensive behaviour.
The sign on my cabin door said 'Not enough bucks stop here'.
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Old 19th December 2012, 12:13
louis mair's Avatar
louis mair louis mair is offline  
Active: 1975 - 1998
Join Date: Nov 2012
Posts: 7
Ocean Baroness

Thanks to BillH. My memory is not too bad. It's a shame that I can't spell Aladdin; nobody is perfect!
Here are a couple of recent links to the fifth-generation [bigger/better/deeper] Ocean Baroness:
If I've done this right the rig on the right is a second-generation Victory/Voyager class rig very similar to the Aladdin. You could describe it as an 'after and before' picture.

Last edited by louis mair; 19th December 2012 at 12:17..
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Old 9th January 2018, 10:24
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louis mair louis mair is offline  
Active: 1975 - 1998
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This story from a time long gone has moved to:
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