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Anchor Handling and Towing

Updated on September 1, 2013



2Safe Operation

2.1General Principles

2.2Safety Equipment

2.3Onboard Communications

2.4Winch Signals

2.5Heave Away

2.6Slack Away


2.8Emergency Stop

2.9Make Fast


2.11Weather Conditions

3Deck Equipment

3.1Inspection and Maintenance

3.2Pop Up Pins

3.3Hydraulic Stoppers

3.4Recommended Minimum Equipment in Addition to Fixed


3.4.1Recommended Tools

4Mooring Systems

4.1Anchor Pennants

4.2Anchor Patterns and Cable Lengths

5Anchor Operations - Buoyed Anchors


5.2Lassoing Buoy

5.3Lifting the Anchor

5.4Racking Anchors

5.5Points to Watch When Lifting and Racking Anchors

6Anchor Operations - Permanent Chain Chasers

6.1Lifting the Anchor

6.2Start Of Operations:-

6.3Racking the Anchor

7Anchor Operations - Grappling or Chasing

8Anchor Operations - Running Anchors

8.1Buoys and Pennants


8.3Running Anchor

8.4Lowering Anchor

8.5Permanent Chasers

9Anchor Operations - Problems Likely to be Encountered

10Anchor Operations - Examination of Anchor Pennants

11Anchor Operations - Piggyback Anchors

12Anchor Operations - Spring Buoys

13Anchor Operations - Crown Chains

14Anchor Operations - Pelican Hooks

15Anchor Operations - Split Pins

16Anchor Operations - Use Of Ships Gear in Anchor Make


17Anchor Operations - Soft Line Mooring Systems

18Anchor Operations - Making up Pennants

19Anchor Operations - Handling J Hooks, Grapnels and

Anchors over the Stern Roller

20Radio Procedures

20.1When Lifting Anchors:

20.2When Laying Anchors:


21Lay Barge Anchors



22.2Direct Connection onto Rig Bridle.

22.3Tow Connection - Jack Up Rigs

22.4Connection of Second Tugs

22.5Towing In Bad Weather

22.6Towing In Shallow Water

22.7Towing By Two or More Vessels

23Placing Rig on New Location

23.1Making Approach

23.2Methods of Position Fixing

23.3Open Location

24Positioning Jack-ups for Workovers

24.1Disconnecting Tow Line

24.1.1Lead Tug:

24.1.2Second Tug:

25Tow Connection

25.1Semi Submersibles

26Final Approach to Location

27Letting Go the Tow

28Towing Rigs on Anchors

29Barge Towing

This method statement covers the basic requirements for safe operation
when anchor handling and towing. It should be read by all crew members, so
that all persons involved understand the principles of operation and the
procedures involved.
Safe Operation

It is not possible to pre-define safe operating requirements for all conditions

and the main responsibility for assessment of risk and for the decision to
proceed with the operation rests with the Master. Good communication and
consultation with all parties before and during the operation will assist in a
mutual understanding of the possible problems each party may encounter.
The following general principles should be observed by all personnel:

great care should be taken both of personal safety and of the

safety of all others involved in the operation.

all personnel must be aware of the possibility of sudden shifts

of wires or chains. These can occur even when the vessel
appears to be stationary.

wires should not be crossed directly. If necessary personnel

must proceed forward to cross underneath the wire.

working aft of buoys on deck must be avoided unless

absolutely necessary, and then only the minimum necessary
personnel should be in this area.

wires and chains under load should only be approached on

the instructions of the master or the mate in charge.

personnel should always ensure a place of safety is within

easy reach.

Reference should also be made to the relevant sections of the current edition
of the Code of Safe Working Practices For Merchant Seamen.


All crew members working on deck will wear the prescribed safety clothing
and equipment as supplied. Buoyancy aids must be worn by all crew
members working on deck. The design of an anchor handler, particularly with
its open stern, does not afford the same protection as found on PSVs and pipe
carriers. During certain stages of the operation when crew members are
working adjacent to the open stern, i.e. buoy lassoing, passing rig wires or
crown pennants to crane etc., buoyancy suits shall be worn. There is always
the increased possibility of either slipping or falling over the stern at this
time. Safety harnesses will be provided for crew members who require
additional security or when the Master so orders.


Verbal communication between deck and bridge is often difficult due to the
noise levels generated by the propellers and deck machinery. Excessive use
of walkie-talkies and loud hailers may cause confusion and can distract the
crew members on deck from the task in hand.
A standard system of hand signals should be employed by the mate on deck
to direct operation of the main winch, tuggers and tow pins. In the case of
dual operating controls for tow pins and sharks jaw, forward planning and a
clear understanding on who is to operate these controls is to be agreed
before start of operations (see 2.4 below).
The mate on deck is in charge of the deck operation and he alone will give
the appropriate signals for winch operation. If at any stage of the operation, a
breakdown of communication occurs or there is confusion as to the nature of
the operation, the work area is to be secured and Mate in charge will discuss
the problem with the Master.

Communication from the bridge to the deck can be effected via the deck loud
hailer. The Master oversees the whole operation from his vantage point on
the bridge. The bridge team are sometimes able to see dangerous situations
in advance of the deck crew. A series of rapid blasts on the ships whistle or
loud hailer horn is the signal for the deck crew to immediately stop whatever
they are doing and head for a place of safety.


Communication between the deck of the vessels and the winch operator is
essential. The following signals should be used whenever some type of verbal
communication is not available. It should be noted that these signals differ
from those for ships lifting plant given in the Code of Safe Working Practice
for Merchant Seamen:


Holding one arm high in the air, pointing up, rotate the hand in a small circle
(crane signal for hoist).


Holding one arm straight down, slightly to one side, pointing down, rotate the
hand in a small circle (crane signal for lower).


Extend one arm straight out to the side, fingers extended, palm down.


Arm and Hand extended (as for the stop signal) and move the arm rapidly
from front to back several times.


Cross both forearms well above and away from the head making fists with the


Because of the nature of on-deck emergencies, Clear the Deck a visual

signal, cannot be relied upon, as some people may not be looking. When a
dangerous emergency does occur, the first person to see it should
shout, CLEAR THE DECK!, and keep repeating it until all those in danger
have cleared the deck. If anyone hears this warning, they should pass it on as
loudly as possible whilst also making for safety.
Rapid blasts sounded on the ships whistle should also be a signal to take
shelter as the Master may observe a situation developing which crew on deck
are not aware of (i.e. manoeuvring difficulty).


By far the greatest limiting factor in any rig move is the prevailing weather
conditions at that time. One way to assess whether it is possible to work
anchors in marginal weather, is to steam in close to the rig, turn stern to wind
and let the vessel lie in this position for ten minutes. Note how she behaves
and what sort of seas are coming on deck. If the stern is pounding heavily or
large solid seas are coming on deck, it is obvious that conditions are not
suitable. This also clearly demonstrates to the rig that the conditions are
unsuitable. If there are draft marks painted on the rigs legs, watch the sea
ranging up these marks for five minutes. A range of 10 feet on the marks
indicates a wave height which is generally too much for the safe lifting of
anchors. Even though the deck may be safe to work on, a large rise and fall
of the stern can result in parting of anchor pennants.
Deck Equipment

All fixed towing and anchor handling equipment must be regularly inspected
and maintained in accordance with the vessels planned maintenance
system. Certificates of original test should be held on board in a register of
Wires hooks and shackles should be regularly inspected. Test certificates for
all items should be held on board in a register of equipment.

Prior to start of operations the deck and equipment should be checked and
ready for use. The operation of all deck equipment such as winches, Karm
forks, sharks jaw and towing pins should be verified from all control stations.


These are used to centralise the wire prior to capturing in the hydraulic
stopper. They should be well maintained and rotate freely.


Various types are in use and their function is to effectively entrap and stopper
the wire by remote operation. They provide a higher degree of safety than
the old fashioned pelican hook. Different inserts are used for different sizes of
chain or wire.


Pelican Hooks

For 3 diameter wire 1

Dead Wires

25ft x 2 / diameter hard eye each end 2

Snatch Blocks

8t (for tugger winch wire) 2

Buoy lassoes

32mm diameter hard eyed, length of chain in middle to inhibit

twisting. Total length 40ft 2

Wire Strops

12 x / diameter soft eyes 2

6 x / diameter soft eyes 2

Shackles *

85 ton SWL Crosby Bow Nut and Bolt 6 (4 used on deadline)

55 ton SWL Crosby Bow Nut and Bolt 6

10 ton SWL Crosby Screw Pin 2

25 ton SWL Crosby Bow Screw Pin 2

120 ton SWL Crosby Bow Nut and Bolt 1

Bull Dog Wire Clamps

for 3 diameter wire 4 (important)

for 2 / diameter wire 6 make new

eye in tow anchor wire.

for 1 diameter (tugger wire) 6

Rope for lashings etc

Coil 3 circ sisal/polyprop 1

Lashing Chains and Chain Binders

10t > 5t cargo shackles for lashing wires and tugger straps

Recommended Tools

7 lb Topping Maul 1

14 lb Sledge Hammer 1

36 Stilson Wrench 2

2 lb Ball Peen Hammer 2

8 Pliers 1

Marlinespikes 12 and 18 1 each

Crow Bars 5 2

Anchor Pin Punches / and / 2 each

Split pins to fit 85 ton and 55 ton

Shackles 12 each

Cold Chisels 2

Lead pellets for Kenter shackles 24

(detachable links)

Set of burning gear and bottles with sufficient hose to reach


Set of welding gear with sufficient cable to reach stern 1

12-14 ft boat hook 2

Casing Wedges 4

Disc cutter

Angle Grinder

Chain Hooks

Mooring Systems
There are many different types of mooring systems employed on semi
submersible units. In general, anchors are usually 25 t. in weight and are
attached to 3 inch rig chain by a very large D shackle. Some units use a
combination of both chain and wire in their mooring systems; smaller semi
subs utilise an all wire mooring spread.

If wire is used, a closed socket fitting into a large open socket and swivel on
the anchor stock is usually the connection. A point to watch with these
sockets is that they can break if subjected to a sideways pull.
Figure 2 shows the makeup of the mooring system from anchor crown to
surface buoy including piggyback anchor. Piggyback anchors are required
when the primary anchor will not hold the test tensions. Piggyback anchors
should be laid on the same bearing as the main anchor, and laid under
tension to keep the ground tackle clear.


Pennants are made from 70mm to 85mm steel cored wire with a hard eye or
socket in each end. The lengths differ from rig to rig but are mainly 50 mt.
The total length of pennants used in any system depends on the water depth
and should always be 70 feet to 100 feet more than the total depth. This
allows the surface buoy to be hauled up on deck without taking the weight of
the main anchor on the buoy lasso.
Pennants are usually right hand lay, however on occasion vessels may be
advised that left hand lay pennants are in use. This will create no great
problems beyond extra work. Whenever weight will come on a pennant i.e.
when pulling an anchor, the pennant on the work drum and the pennants
down to the anchor must all be of the same lay. In this case a left hand lay
wire will have to be spooled onto the work wire before anchor handling
Shackles used in connecting the pennant lengths together are usually 55 ton
SWL nut and bolt shackles or Kenter link joining shackles. Nut and bolt
shackles should always be locked up with a properly turned over
split pin. If for some reason split pins are not available, shackles should be
spot welded on the bolt head side and two welding rods used to keep the nut

A typical anchor pattern for a twin hulled semi-submersible rig will deploy
eight anchors, a pair from each corner with between 45 to 60 degrees spread
between each pair of anchors. Other types of rig may deploy more anchors

and the angles between the anchors will vary with the number of anchors
used. The compass bearing of the anchors from the rig depend solely on the
rigs heading, which is determined by the rigs best pitch and roll factors
relating to the predicted environmental conditions. Number 1 anchor is
usually the first anchor off the starboard bow (or forward leg if a triangular
rig) with the other anchors numbered consecutively clockwise. It is always
useful to make a rough sketch plan of the anchor pattern, as soon as the
vessel arrives on location. This will help to identify the correct buoys at night
and avoids having to ask the rig where the buoy is when sent to pick it up. A
good place to keep the sketch is under plexiglass on the chart table or other
place where quick reference can be made. When working more than one rig
where patterns differ, the sketches ensure that no confusion arises.
Rigs using anchor chain usually have up to 1000 metre of chain, of up to 110
mm, available for anchoring but the length run out generally depends on the
water depth at location. The minimum length used is usually six to eight
times the water depth. Rigs using wire have up to 3000 metre of 76mm
diameter wire on their winches and usually want at least a mile of it run out.
However, vessels may be asked to run some anchors to maximum length and
some to less than maximum length. This enables the rig to pull herself off
location if that need arises.
Positioning of anchors in congested subsea areas is a precise operation
requiring close attention to range and bearing from the rig. A surveyor with
range finder and laser theodolite will often be stationed on the rig in order to
give precise information as to the position of the vessel running the anchor in
relation to the subsea obstacles. It is important that the Tow/Barge Masters
instruction are followed closely when working anchor in these areas to avoid
damaging subsea pipelines and well-heads etc. Where laser range finders are
in use procedures must be in place to ensure that vessel personnel do not
look towards the rig as the laser is being fired.
Often position fixing navigation and display packages are installed on the
anchor handler itself for precise positioning.
Anchor Operations Buoyed Anchors


Before commencing an operation all gear to be used for anchor handling or

towing should be checked out thoroughly, shackles greased and tools
assembled. Dead lines should be connected to pad eyes and pelican hooks
shackled on with 85 ton SWL shackles. The anchor work wire should be run
out to the after end and all systems on the winch checked.
The operation of all deck equipment such as Karm forks, sharks jaw and
towing pins should be verified from all control stations.
Burning and welding gear is to be tested and required tools made ready in a
canvas bag or five gallon paint drum ready to hand in a convenient place
while work is in progress.
Whenever practicable, a conference should be held between the Captain, Rig
personnel and Underwriters Surveyor prior to any rig shift to discuss mooring
arrangements and procedures for the shift. This may not be necessary if the
boat is well versed in the rigs systems and procedures.
Planning is the keystone of a successful rig move. The crew should have the
basic principles of anchor work explained to them and be allotted their
specific duties during the shift, i.e. winch driver, buoy team. Once this is
completed, non-essential crew should be given as much rest as
possible before the shift starts, as anchor handling work can mean
long and arduous hours on deck.

On commencement of a rig shift, the buoy to be lifted will be indicated by

number; however, check the position of this buoy from the sketch plan and,
before attempting to lift the buoy, verify its position by relative bearing to the
Note Any numbers painted on a buoy usually bear no relationship to the
actual number of the anchor below it.
Manoeuvre the stern of the vessel to the buoy using minimum power when
close by to prevent the wash disturbing the buoy. The buoy should be
approached from the leeside whenever possible to prevent the vessel over-

running it and fouling propellers. As the stern approaches the buoy it will also
push the buoy and slack the pennant to the anchor.
If a head to wind approach is necessary, the vessel can be allowed to drift
down onto the buoy whilst maintaining heading and given a slight kick ahead
when the buoy is lassoed in order to create slack in the pennant.
The mate on deck needs to signal an early warning if the buoy starts to
submerge, in order to avoid the vessel over-running the buoy.
Before lassoing the buoy, the rig should be asked to reduce tension on the
anchor cable otherwise when the anchor is off the bottom it will probably
either drag the ship astern quite violently or break the anchor pennant.
Having backed up to the buoy, two men should be standing on the stern with
the lasso which has been previously connected to the work wire with a 25 ton
SWL shackle. When the buoy is in position, the wire should be thrown over
the buoy (not around the crucifix) and an additional man should be standing
by with a boat-hook to push the wire over the sides of the buoy if a clean
throw is not obtained. Once the buoy has been properly lassoed, all hands
should stand well clear and the buoy should be pulled far enough up the deck
to get the stopper onto the first pennant under the buoy tail. An alternate
method of heaving the buoy onboard is to connect the buoy lasso to the
tugger winch using a snatch block to obtain proper fairlead. This is a much
faster method but not always guaranteed to work.
When the work-wire is connected onto the riser pennants and the fork/jaw
has been removed, put weight on by steaming ahead, gently at first till all
slack is taken up, then up to approx 45% power. This is especially important
in rough seas in order to create an angle between the vessels stern and the
anchor on the bottom so that snatching on the pennants is avoided. This also
helps in uprooting the anchor.


The period whilst the buoy is being decked is the most dangerous part of the
operation as the combined weight of ship and anchor may come on the buoy
lasso. The first pennant after the pigtail should be secured in the jaw/fork

without delay, then tow pins re-raised. The vessel can then be manoeuvred
into weather and a small ahead movement applied to maintain position and
to allow vessel to ride the weather without snatching e.g. 10% ahead power.
When the buoy is landed on deck, the stopper should be closed behind the
first pennant. The work wire is then slacked until all the weight is firmly taken
by the stopper. When the buoy is disconnected, it should be moved to the
barrier and secured. Connect the riser pennant to the anchor wire and when
the jaw is released clear the crew from the deck. Then increase power and
commence heaving. When the length of wire out confirms the anchor is off
the bottom reduce power again and raise the anchor to the roller for
inspection. If no pipelines or other subsea installations are to be crossed, the
anchor can be left on the roller, the rig advised and recovering of mooring
can commence. Whilst the rig recovers the mooring, the vessel can sit on the
most comfortable heading. If running the bight back to rig will aid the
recovery rate then make the suggestion. When the anchor is almost
recovered e.g. less than twice the water depth to go, then power may be
applied to enable the vessel to maintain position and the anchor can be
lowered from the roller.
It is advisable to apply some power and put weight on as it makes
manoeuvering the boat easier and also controls the steadily decreasing
distance from the rig. Slack the anchor from the roller until the first pennant
is in the jaw and then secure.
The rig should keep a vessel advised of distance to go and power can be
reduced accordingly until all weight is off with 100 to go. When the anchor is
racked and weight is off the pennant, disconnect from the work wire and
prepare to pass the pennant to the rig. The rigs crane should be allowed to
take up any slack before releasing the pennant from the jaw. It may be
necessary for the vessel to manoeuvre the anchor into a fairlead position in
order for the anchor to be racked properly. When the anchor is racked, the
pennant will be passed to the rig by means of the crane. It is important not to
release the pennant from the stopper with the crane wire attached until the
anchor is properly racked.

When the pennant wire is disconnected a start may be made on stripping the
pennants off the anchor winch drum, if required. Pennants should be spooled
off or coiled down as neatly as possible and shackles stowed safely with nuts
and bolts secured. These pennants and shackles will be used again, and if
they are passed back to the rig in a mess, they will come back to the ship in a
similar condition, thereby making more work when running anchors. When
spooling drums are utilised keep a record of what pennants are on the spool
drum and in which order they are stowed. This will prove invaluable when
running anchors and specific pennant lengths are required.
If, when the anchor is at the stern, it is seen to be fouled, it will have to be
pulled on deck to be cleared. Do not do this until the ship is within 1,000 feet
of the rig as fouled pennants may part when pulling the anchor over the stern
and the rig may have difficulty recovering an anchor with a lot of cable out,
but can drag the anchor in at 1,000 feet or less. Keep the rig advised of
the condition in which the anchor is found, and of the vessels
When the fouled anchor is on deck, put a stopper over the anchor cable and
take the weight on the stopper. If the pennant is badly damaged on the
anchor, ask the rigs permission to burn it off. If the pennant has to be
untangled, disconnect it at the anchor and use the tugger winch to pull the
turns off. When the anchor has been cleared, replace the pennant or use the
next pennant on the winch.
When the fouled pennant has been replaced, release the stopper and put the
anchor back into the water with the stopper on as for a clear anchor (i.e. on
the first pennant).


It can take an hour or more for the rig to heave in all the cable and some of
this idle time should be used for stripping off unwanted pennants. However,
when vessels are close to the rig, this work should cease and all hands should
be ready to pass up to the rig the last pennant (which is still connected to the
anchor). If the rig is in a deballasted condition it will be possible to see the
anchor coming up on the anchor rack. During this time, all weight should be
kept off the pennant by manoeuvring close to the anchor rack position. If
weight is put on the pennant while the anchor is in the process of being

racked, it may well pull the anchor over the top of the rack, causing it to jam
in that position. This is very likely to happen if the rig is still ballasted to deep
draft, so during this time a very close liaison with the rig is necessary.
Another point to watch while manoeuvring close to the rig with an anchor on
the stern is that one should avoid crossing over other anchor cables that may
still be out. If this is not done, the anchor may foul the other cable, or worse
still, be dropped over another cable, requiring a diving operation to recover it.


1. Pennant wires may build up on the work drum on one side

only. This can be cleared by using the engines to slip the
pennant wire from one side of the stern roller to the other
and/or by shackling the tugger winch wire over the pennant
wire to give a sideways pull to the empty side of the winch
2. Too much pennant wire for the winch drum to handle. The
only answer to this is to hang the anchor off at the most
convenient pennant and then strip off the extra pennants.
This should not happen with foresight.
Anchor Operations Permanent Chain Chasers


A string of pennants are spooled onto the work drum prior to start of
operations. The use of individual pennants is preferred rather than a long
chaser wire. The possibility of the chaser ring jamming either on the chain or
anchor can remove a vessel from the operation when a long chaser wire is
used. With individual pennants an anchor buoy can be utilised and chaser
ring buoyed off thus releasing the vessel to continue with the other anchor in
the spread.

S TA R T O F O P E R AT I O N S : -

A permanent chain chaser has a 50m wire attached, the socket is passed
down to the vessel via rig crane. To facilitate the transfer, two wire strops
should be secured to the socket. One strop is used by the crane and the other
left free.

A boat hook is utilised by the deck crew to catch the free strop; this is
shackled onto the tugger wire and weight transferred from the crane onto this
tugger wire.
The socket is hauled up the deck to a position forward of the sharks jaw, the
jaw is engaged and wire slacked so the ferrule is secure in the stopper. The
crane is then released and tugger also disconnected, the pennant string is
now connected to the chaser wire using an 85 tonne shackle. The nut is to be
secured with split pin. Weight is then taken on the work drum and the stopper
The vessel slowly moves away in the given direction of the anchor paying out
the work wire to a length of approx 3 times the water depth. Steady progress
is made along the chain and this can be observed by the bobbling of the
chaser wire on deck as the ring moves over the links.
The position of the anchor is at a known distance, and a check on ones own
progress is made using the ships radar. Great care should be exercised when
nearing the anchor position. The object is to slide the chaser ring down the
stock of the anchor. The forward motion of the vessel is suddenly arrested
and a considerable force is then exerted on the wire. A certain amount of
force must be used to pull the chaser ring onto the anchor stock.
The tension control on the winch can be used to allow the wire to pay out
automatically, however both Master and winch operator must be alert and
ready to stop the engines and pay out manually on the winch to ease the
shock load on the wire.
Once the chaser ring is in position on the anchor the rig slacks off on the
chain tension and the vessel is positioned with stern directly towards the rig
with engines running ahead at approx 40% thrust. This ensures that the ring
does not slip off the anchor once it is clear of the bottom. Check with the rig
that tension is off then commence heaving on the work drum. Pull the anchor
up to the stern roller and secure the brake. The mate is to check on the
anchor, whether the ring is on the shank or if the wire is foul: Condition is
reported to bridge. If all clear then the rig is informed.


Engine power is reduced to approx 15% ahead, this ensures that the anchor
does not fall through the ring. The rig hauls in the chain and vessel maintains
position using engine and thrusters.
To rack the anchor, the stern is held close to rig leg and the anchor is slacked
off from the stern roller. It may be necessary to put a little weight onto the
pennant to allow the anchor to sit right on the bar. Once racked the 200 ton
chaser pennant section is slacked off and the ferrule secured in the sharks
jaw. The work wire is disconnected, strops attached and the crane hooked on.
The crane will take the weight and stopper can be released.
Anchor Operations Grappling or Chasing
If a vessel is asked to drag for an anchor cable, the rig may supply the
necessary equipment, which will consist of a grapnel and pennants, the
length of which should be 3 x the water depth. When all gear is rigged,
proceed at 10% at right angles to the last known direction of the cable: this
may be done as close as 50 to 60 metres from the rig. The wire will vibrate as
the grapnel is pulled along the bottom. When the cable is hooked, the wire
will immediately stop vibrating, the angle suspended between the sea and
wire will get smaller, and the ship will stop moving through the water.
Increase power to 15/20% ahead until the grapnel is clear of the sea bed,
then reduce to 10%, heave the grapnel and cable over the stern.
When the cable is on deck it can be stoppered and recovered either by using
the work wire to heave in deck lengths, or by running cable using the rig
chain gypsies. If using the gypsies in most cases, it will be necessary to
secure the loose end of the work wire around the drum as usually the gypsies
are directly linked to the work drum and both revolve simultaneously. Failure
to do this will result in a work drum fouled with wire pennants.
If recovering a chain to refit a lost anchor it is easier to J hook out to near the
end of the cable. Then deck the J hook and bight of cable and secure the free
end in the stopper. Slacking on the J hook should cause the bight to pass over
the stern. Put weight on the J hook, release the stopper and heave another
bight in. Repeat this until heaving causes the J hook to move along the cable

rather than to heave the bight in. This will indicate the end is near. Recover
chain on the other side of bight and heaving on the J hook will cause the
chain to run through and as the chain comes on deck weight should be seen
to lessen on the J hook.
If this method is not working, deck enough chain to reach the gypsies and
use these to deck the chain. Keep the other length secured in jaws.
If it is not necessary to pull the anchor up to the stern, then when 1,000 feet
from the rig ask them to stop heaving, lower the hook until it drops below
chain height then move back towards the rig and slightly towards the side
from which the cable was first hooked. The hook should then fall off and the
rig can continue to heave in the anchor.





















If the strain becomes severe when heaving in, a bight has probably been
caught lower down. Ask the rig to re-tension, then re-apply the power and
chase the hook out onto the anchor stock.
Anchor Operations Running Anchors


Prior to start the rig will load pennants and buoys onto the deck. The
pennants may vary in length, so consult with the rig as to the required make
up of the riser pennants and spool them onto the work drum in the
appropriate order. Advise the rig when ready.


The rig will call the vessel in to pick up a pennant from the crane. This
pennant is usually 200 feet long and attached to the anchor crown or crown
chain. The pennant will probably hang vertically over the stern roller. The
method of getting it on board is:

First ask the rig to pass an extra stop through pennant eye.

Hook strop with boat hook. Connect tugger winch wire to the
extra strop in the eye of the pennant and pull the eye up the
deck and apply the stopper.

Disconnect the crane and connect this pennant to the other

pennants already been wound on the anchor winch drum. A
55 ton SWL Crosby nut and bolt shackles or Kenter links are
usually used for joining together buoy pennants, with larger
85 ton SWL shackles on chasing pennants.

When the crown pennant is connected to the previously spooled on pennants

on the work drum and deck is clear of personnel, vessel can ease ahead. As
the anchor is slacked from the rack, power should be gently increased and
when about 100ft slacked, power up to 30% and commence heaving anchor
across to roller. Continue heaving until the anchor is just below the stern
roller and attach the safety wire if required.
With the anchor secure on the stern roller the rig will continue to slack away
300/400 ft of cable to allow the vessel to align itself on the required heading:
The tow master will advise the required heading and distance for laying the
anchor. The mate on deck will now proceed to the bridge to assist the Master
by monitoring the progress of the vessel via the radar and compass bearings.
Some rigs use a laser sighting system for more precise positioning, otherwise
they will advise based on observations via their own radar.


The vessel is now ready to run out the anchor on the given heading. From this
point the operation will differ depending upon the rig. Some rigs have a
power pay out of the chain with the winch in gear. Maximum speed can vary
between 1 and 2 / knots. This speed must not be exceeded, automatic brakes

are applied to the rig winch to avoid overspeed and damage to gears etc. A
steady pull is required with power slowly being increased on the main
engines to overcome the increasing drag and weight of chain.
With this speed restriction, the final distance obtained will depend upon the
power of the vessel, water depth and nature of bottom.

Alternatively, other rigs pay out cable out of gear, on the brake: with this
method, power and speed is built up very quickly. The vessel should be
looking at attaining full power within a couple of cables. The vessel is relying
upon its speed and inertia to pull out as much cable as possible. The speed
will slowly drop off as more cable is paid out.
The final distance attained will also depend upon the power of the vessel,
depth and nature of bottom. But in addition the skill of the winch operator is
A skilful winch operator will not allow a pile of chain to build up on the
seabed, but will just allow the chain to run out and hopefully keep the
minimum contact between chain and seabed.
A few of the smaller rigs utilise a wire mooring pattern in which case wire
greater scopes are required but less power is necessary because of the lower
weight factor.


The tow master on the rig will keep the vessel advised as to track and
distance to go. When in position the vessel will be told to put the anchor on
the bottom. Reduce power and commence lowering anchor to seabed. When
anchor touches the bottom reduce power to a minimum and maintain
position over it, inform rig Anchor on Bottom. They will now tension up
on the cable to check that the anchor is holding. When the rig is satisfied with
tension the vessel will be instructed to buoy off the anchor.
The pennant is slacked away to the next join which will give sufficient slack to
enable the buoy to be connected without risk of tripping the anchor. The
ferrule is secured in the stopper and disconnected from the work wire.
The anchor buoy is pulled to the stern and the pigtail pennant under the buoy
connected and secured. All shackles are to be secured with split pin or even
spot welded if so required. When all secure, personnel stand clear and the
buoy is released from the stopper. It may be necessary to steam ahead to
pull the buoy off and clear of the stern. Rig is advised that Buoy is
deployed and any number or marking on the buoy is relayed to the rig for

identification purposes, along with the final bearing and distance of the
anchor from the rig. This information should also be recorded in the vessels
own log book and voyage report.


The actual method of running an anchor fitted with a permanent chaser is

much the same as with buoys. The chaser pennant is passed via the crane to
the vessel and secured to the chasing string. The vessel maintains position
off the rig leg as the anchor is paid out under power. Unlike a buoyed system,
the weight on the pennant wire must be maintained to prevent the anchor
falling through the chaser ring. The anchor is secured on the stern roller,
though in some cases it may be preferable to deck the anchor and secure the
chain to ensure that the anchor does not slip through. The vessel is aligned
for the run out and informs the rig that they are ready to proceed. The
procedure for power pay out or brake is then as before until the anchor is on
The chain is tensioned and when the rig is satisfied the instruction to strip
back to rig is given. At this point pay out on the work wire to a length
approximately 2 / to 3 times the water depth.

The vessel proceeds back towards the rig, either stern first or the vessel can
be turned around and steamed ahead. The chaser ring is eased off the anchor
shank using minimum power to avoid tripping it, and the vessel then
proceeds along the bearing towards the rig. The wire will bobble on the deck
to indicate the progress of the ring along the links. This job is made easier by
the rig putting as much tension on the chain as possible to ensure a straight
run of cable.
As the vessel approaches the rig the work wire is shortened, the chaser
pennant is secured in the sharks jaw and disconnected from the string. It is
passed back to the rig via the crane in the normal way.
Anchor Operations Problems Likely to be Encountered
Kenter joining shackles will not fit over thimbles of pennant wire. Permission
should be asked to install larger bow shackles.

It may not be possible to reach the objective due to the drag

of the chain on the seabed. If so then check with the rig to
determine how much cable they have out, as they may have
stopped early. If there is no apparent reason for stopping,
come back to the rig, leaving the cable in a large bight
behind, and steam out on full power all the way. The rig will
probably take chain in to about 1,000 ft.

The ideal way to run the anchor is to keep as much chain off the seabed as
possible to cut down drag, hence the reason for hanging the anchor off the
stern roller or just off the bottom. However, some winch drivers on the rig
tend to pay out the anchor cable faster than the ship can drag it out, thereby
piling anchor cable on the seabed and making it impossible to pull the cable
out with anything but the highest powered vessels. If it is thought that the rig
is paying out the cable too fast, ask them to hold the cable until tension
shows on their meter, then pay out cable slowly, keeping some tension on it
all the time.

Permanent chasers can foul the anchor and will not allow the
vessel to trip back. It may be necessary to ask the rig to slack
off on the chain tension and pick up the anchor and deck it.
Once secure on deck again the chaser ring can be manhandled to a position, which may enable it to slip off the
shank when back on the seabed. The anchor is then re-laid,
and the rig will retension the cable.

It is also possible that a bight of chain may stop the progress of the vessel
back to the rig. If that is the case, ease off on the power and ask the rig to
tension up the cable again, then try to continue towards rig. If all above fails,
it may be necessary to buoy off the chaser ring to release the vessel to
continue with the other anchors. Once the rig is fully tensioned and in
position, try again to strip back to the rig.

If laser positioning is utilised, avoid using binoculars in the

direction of the rig to avoid possible eye damage.

Anchor Operations Examination of Anchor Pennants

When working anchors all pennant wires should be carefully examined and
the rig informed if any of them are found to be damaged or have broken
thimbles in them. The pennant next to the anchor is the most important one

to watch as this wire usually drags on the seabed or is damaged when fouled
round the anchor. Bad pennants should be replaced when anchors are lifted
by pulling the anchor on deck and replacing the pennant with a new one or
the next pennant on the anchor winch. This will be much appreciated by the
rig and is in any case good seamanship, and may avoid the task of dragging
for or chasing out the anchor when the pennant parts. It is a good idea to
always have spare pennants onboard for this purpose.
Anchor Operations Piggyback Anchors
When anchors do not hold their test tension, a second anchor is connected to
the surface buoy pennant. This second anchor is then lowered to the seabed
using the same procedure as for a main anchor. Keep some tension on the
pennant wires between the two anchors, and lay the piggyback in line with
the main anchor and the rig. Retrieving the piggyback is also the same
operation as the main anchor, except the piggyback must be pulled well up
the deck and lashed down. The buoy pennants must then be stripped off the
winch and the second lot of pennants to the main anchor wound up on the
drum. Vessels may be asked to complete a rig shift with the piggyback
stowed on deck. This is possible if the anchors are pulled right up to the
winch and stowed crown outboard. Rig shifts can be completed quite
successfully with anchors and surface buoys on deck, provided they are
properly lashed and stowed.
Anchor Operations Spring Buoys
Some companies use these buoys to prevent the pennant wires rubbing on
the seabed or fouling the anchor. They are smaller than a surface buoy and
are attached by a 10 to 15 foot length of wire to the top eye of the first 200
foot pennant from the anchor. These buoys should be disconnected as soon
as they appear over the stern when lifting anchors. When running anchors,
reconnect them using 25-ton shackles as the eye of the first pennant goes
over the stern. Caution must be taken to ensure the spring buoy does not foul
the rudders or propellers when being heaved in.
Anchor Operations Crown Chains
Most anchors are now fitted with 15 to 20 feet of 2 inch anchor cable on the
crown of the anchor. This cable is to stop the pennant fouling the anchor or

wearing out on the seabed. It should have a stud cut out of a link every five
feet to enable shackling in of the extra dead wire when running the anchor, if
necessary, or to receive a second pennant when divers are used to change
pennants from the rig. If vessels are asked to place a crown chain on the
anchor, a 75-ton shackle will usually be used, as this is the only shackle with
jaws big enough to fit over the eye on the crown of the anchor. This shackle
should be welded round the nut when fitted.
Anchor Operations Pelican Hooks
It is very handy to have a small bow shackle welded to the top of the locking
loop of the pelican hook so it can be released from long distance, thus
avoiding anyone standing near the buoy when releasing the hook.
Anchor Operations Split Pins
All shackles used in anchor make-up should have the correct size split pins in
them and the split pins must be properly turned over. These split pins will be
supplied from the rig, but ships should carry a supply in case of emergencies.
Welding rods should be avoided if at all possible. If split pins are not
available, the shackle should be welded on the bolt head side and two
welding rods used to keep the nut on.
Anchor Operations Use Of Ships Gear in Anchor Make Up
All wires and shackles used must be type approved and have a current test
certificate. The charterer will usually supply all equipment necessary to make
up the anchor string. Often this equipment is hired and spares are supplied.
However, occasionally during the course of a rig shift it becomes necessary to
use some of the ships own gear to supplement charterers equipment. This
equipment must be type approved and a current test certificate be on board.
Permission is first to be obtained from the rig and all relevant details i.e. cert
number etc passed to the tow master. Particulars should be recorded in the
log book and charterers voyage sheet, reported promptly, and replacement
Anchor Operations Soft Line Mooring Systems

The accommodation rigs run by Safe Offshore often utilise a soft line mooring
system in the anchor array.
In the soft line system, instead of a large marker buoy being attached directly
to the crown pennant string, a smaller, lighter line is shackled to the large
eye and leads directly to a small orange dan buoy on the surface. This light
line consists of sections of small chain, swivels and light wire. Before the start
of mooring operations the rig will pass down the equipment along with a
diagram of the required make up. It is advisable to make up the buoy line
strings prior to commencing anchor operations. All shackles are to be welded.
Do not use the work drum to store these wires, as they will be damaged by
the larger wires on top. Utilise the powered storage reels or alternatively,
store them on top of the tow wire on the upper drum if not in use.
Anchors are run as normal the only difference being the deployment of the
soft line instead of a large marker buoy.
NOTE:-When recovering these anchors, the light buoys on the surface are
difficult to lasso. Utilise the storage reels to store the soft line to avoid
damaging the wire on the work drum.
Anchor Operations Making up Pennants
In breaking open coils of pennant wire the most reliable and quickest method
is to connect the outside eye to the work wire and throw the inner eye and
coil over the stern. The coil runs out cleanly from inside to outer wraps. This
also gives weight to make the wires spool cleanly onto the work drum.
During some rig shifts left hand laid pennant wires are in use. When heaving
or slackening them the tension must be taken by a pennant of the same lay.
Therefore an extra pennant is usually spooled first.
Anchor Operations Handling J Hooks, Grapnels and Anchors over
the Stern Roller
If required to J Hook or grapple the equipment may have to be put over the
roller without assistance. This will not present a problem if correctly done.

A tugger/capstan wire should be passed out through the bits on one quarter
back on deck and through the grapnel/work wire shackle then back out round
the other quarter, in at the bitts and made fast.
A steady heave will put the J Hook etc over the stern. Restrict slack in the
work wire to avoid the weight of the J Hook coming on capstan wire. Release
the capstan wire at the bitts and retrieve. If laying a mooring and an anchor
needs to be put over the stern then a lead with a capstan wire between the
towing pins and through the shank shackles normally works. Again restrict
slack in the anchor wire.
If all fails utilise the rig crane to assist the J Hook/ grapnel over the stern.
Radio Procedures
Throughout a rig shift, the only contact the rig operators have with the ship is
via the radio, thus the reputation of the ship, and thereby the Company, is
very dependent on the standard of radio communication by the vessel.
The main points to watch are:
1. Always be courteous and polite.
2. In marginal weather conditions always have a look before
making a decision to work or not. Let the rig know that the
task is at least being assessed.
3. Do not volunteer too much unnecessary information, but keep
the rig informed of the following: WHEN LIFTING ANCHORS:


Buoy on deck


Commenced lifting anchor


Anchor off bottom


Anchor sighted and condition report


Anchor lowered to 200 feet for racking

W H E N L AY I N G A N C H O R S :


Ready to run


In drop position


Anchor on bottom


Buoy in water



Tow connected


Tow streamed


Towing full revs


Navigational details every 2 hours this should include position, course

made good, speed since commencement of tow, ETA next alter course
position, ETA new location.

Shortening tow


Tow disconnected

All the above mentioned details are required for the rigs log book and
operations time analysis.
Lay Barge Anchors
The nature of the work undertaken by lay barges requires continuous
adjustment of the anchor pattern to enable the barge to haul itself ahead as
the pipes are laid astern. A conventional set up of buoys and anchor
pennants would cause delays and an excessive workload for the vessels.
Instead of conventional pennants, lay barges use a long continuous wire
between the surface and the crown of the anchor. This wire is not secured to
the surface buoy but passes up through a channel in the buoy and has a
large ferrule and wire loop on top. This is known as a suitcase anchor. With

this system the anchor buoy does not need to recovered: the anchor
handlers stern is manoeuvred close to the buoy and a light wire known as
the suitcase wire, with a locking or suitcase hook, is secured to the loop on
the crown wire.
The design of the suitcase hook is such that there is a socket into which a
long pole fits. The hook and wire are attached onto the loop using the pole
and the pole is retracted.
The suitcase line is permanently attached to the work wire on the lower drum
for the whole of the operation. The pop up pins are left up and are used to
keep the wire in the centre of the stern.
The suitcase wire is reeled in onto the work drum hauling the crown wire up
through the buoy, leaving the buoy in the water. There is sufficient slack in
the crown wire to enable at least 6 to 8 turns to wrap around the drum before
weight comes on the wire. The barge will slack off on the mooring wire and
instruct the anchor handling vessel to pick up the anchor.
As the anchor is pulled up to the stern roller; the floating buoy will be seen to
rise up when the anchor comes into contact. Stop heaving and apply the
brake. It is important to align the stern first in the direction required prior to
informing the barge that the anchor is on the roller. The winches on the barge
are very powerful and the operator will start heaving the moment he hears
that the anchor is up. The vessel will be heaved astern at over 5 to 6 knots by
the winch alone. Speed is important, the object being to resite the anchor on
its new location as quickly as possible without interrupting the forward
motion of the barge. The vessel is hauled astern to within 300 metres of the
barge, and a new bearing and course to steer is given.
The vessel is instructed to proceed out on the new course. There are no
speed restrictions and the vessel pulls out the anchor wire at a speed of 6
knots plus. The barge will direct and adjust the track accordingly. Upon
reaching the required distance the barge will give the instruction Stop and
Drop. Power is reduced and the crown wire is paid out. Continuing to reduce
the power, the anchor lands on the seabed and the crown wire will go slack.
Inform the barge that the anchor is on the bottom. The barge will

immediately heave the anchor wire tight, and the anchor should hold. It is
very apparent if it doesnt; as the vessel starts to move backwards very
quickly. In that case inform the barge and attempt to reset the anchor on the
bottom. When the anchor holds pay off the rest of the crown pennant and
disconnect the suitcase hook. The sharks jaw may be used to assist. Report to
the barge that vessel has disconnected. The barge will then issue new
Note: The suitcase wire needs to be inspected every time and changed on a
regular basis. The smaller gauge wire becomes trapped and damaged by the
heavier crown pennant wire which lies on top when spooled on to the work
drum. The first 6 turns of the crown pennant wire is spooled onto the work
drum without any weight. When breaking out the anchor from the seabed the
upper turns often cut into the lay when the strain comes on. More often than
not, it is the smaller suitcase wire that suffers.
Should it be noticed that the suitcase wire has been damaged or even parted,
it is a good idea before paying off all of the turns to raise the sharks jaws to
catch the ferrule before it drops over the stern then retrieve the suitcase
hook and attach it to a new section of wire.

Prior to start of operations the deck and equipment should be checked and
ready for use. The forward towing pad must be used at all times. This pad is a
safety feature, it is situated aft of the turning point of the vessel and in an
emergency may prevent the vessel girthing. The after gog/recovery wire may
be rigged, which is a matter of personal preference. Sufficient tow wire is
pulled off the tow drum and central tow connection secured around the wire.
Sufficient slack is flaked on deck to allow the crew to easily shackle onto the


Masters should be aware that with direct connection, the weak link in the
towing system will be the vessels own tow wire. Most bridles are either chain
or made of heavier gauge wire. Towing contracts between rigs and vessels

are usually negotiated on a knock for knock basis and a parted towline will be
down to the vessels own cost and insurance. Therefore the use of a fuse wire
or weak link is preferable. A fuse wire is a short length of wire rope, which is
of smaller diameter than the tow wire and is inserted between the ships tow
wire and rigs bridle. The theory being that should excessive strain be exerted
on the tow then the fuse wire will part before the tow wire and
reconnection can be made without delay or loss of a section of the actual tow
wire itself.
Tow Masters often express opposition to using this weak link and a Master
must be prepared to look after the best interests of the owner.


Most Jack up rigs have a permanent bridle rigged on its bow often suspended
from the underside of the helideck by a light wire from a small winch.
The connection between the lead tug and rig is made via a heaving line and
messenger or direct with the eye of the bridle lowered down via the light line.
The eye of the bridle is pulled up the deck and secured in the sharks jaw. Tow
connection is made via the fuse wire using the 100 tonne towing shackles.
Tow wire is streamed to the required length.


For short tows or when manoeuvring the rig on or off location the
second/third tugs are made fast on the quarters.
There are several methods of making the wire fast on board the rig, either by
Smit bracket, stag horn bitt or normal mooring bits. It is very rare that a
bridle will be rigged on the quarters.
The preferred method of connection from the boat is via a Jack up Towing
Pennant. This is a wire pennant of approx 56mm diameter and 120 feet in
length. It has a hard eye in one end and a large 6-8ft diameter soft eye in the

The soft eye is passed via messenger up to the rig and placed either in the
Smit bracket or over the bitts. Connection to the tow wire is made via a nylon
stretcher pennant using a minimum of 85 tonne shackles NOTE: The nylon
stretcher should only be used for short tows and on location manoeuvring.
For longer tows the nylon shock should be omitted and the jack up pennant
connected directly to the tow wires.
The small gauge of the jack up pennant will act as the fuse wire in the tow
The length of wire used in towing depends on weather conditions, water
depth and manoeuvring requirements. In general, the worse the weather, the
longer the tow wire. Always keep at least one full wrap of wire on the drum.
For manoeuvring on/off location tow wire is shortened to approx 300m to give
a smaller turning circle when holding the rig on location.


In bad weather, the tow wire should be as long as possible and engine power
adjusted to keep a good catenary on the wire. In very poor weather
conditions, it will probably be necessary just to hold the rig into the wind
without making headway, or even losing ground to leeward.
Movement of the vessel in heavy weather will cause the tow wire to rub on
the stern roller. The wire will slide constantly from side to side. This action will
damage the tow wire, eroding strands and weakening the wire. Use of towing
shoes, a metal or neoprene sheath which is bolted around the tow wire
preventing direct contact between the wire and stern roller, will prevent
damage occurring. If a towing shoe is not used then the area of contact on
the wire will have to be changed on a regular basis. This is known
asfreshening the nip. Depending upon the severity of the weather and
amount of movement of the wire on the roller the tow wire length will be
adjusted by a small amount every hour in cases of excessive movement or up
to every 6 hours when towing in calm weather. The surface of leads in
contact with the wire should be kept well greased, conditions permitting.


The principal cause of damage to a tow wire is the tow wire dragging on the
seabed in shallow water. It has been calculated that, when towing at slow
speeds, a tow wire of 2,500 feet can have a catenary of up to 200 feet depth
in the middle.
Data on catenary curves are available but the curve varies greatly with the
length and size of wire, tension, power setting and speed, also the make up
of the tow. Specific data for the actual towing arrangement in use should
always be obtained and should be available from the tow master in an
organised tow.
The length of tow wire should be adjusted, in relation to the power being
applied, in order to keep the wire well clear of the seabed when towing in
shallow water.


When two or three vessels are used to tow, one of them should be designated
lead tug, and this tug should co-ordinate the actions of all the vessels. The
second and third towing vessels should take up station astern off and to the
side of the lead tug so that, in the case of steering difficulties or mistaken
orders, they will at least pass over the lead tugs tow wire and not collide with
it. Once on location, it is usual to release all other tugs except the lead tug.
Placing Rig on New Location

The vessels will tow the rig initially towards the approach position. The
position is a point 3 or 4 miles from final location on the course on which the
rig wishes to approach the final position. Power is reduced and tow length is
shortened and course is altered up to the final location. At this point if the
second and third tug have been connected for the tow on the bow, their
towlines are let go and tugs are reconnected on the quarters. The lead tug
will continue to tow the rig up to location, compensating for set and drift as
directed by the tow master.


For the actual tow passage navigation will usually be effected by the towing
vessels using on board navigational equipment i.e. Decca Navigator, Sat Nav,
Radar Bearings etc. This equipment will provide accurate enough information
to enable the rig to reach the approach position. However, it is not sufficiently
accurate to place the rig precisely in position. On the approach run the Tow
Master will take over responsibility for navigation of the tow. The tow master
will have at his disposal electronic navigation equipment of survey standard
and accuracy and be able to fix the position of the rig within 1.5 metres. The
tow master will give instructions to the tugs on the basis of this information
to direct the rig to its final position.


As the rig approaches final position its legs are lowered down towards the
seabed. As a safety check the tow master will often ask for the vessels echo
sounder to be running and monitored to give advanced warning of changes in
water depth or obstructions which may come into contact with the bottom of
the legs.
Final approach is timed for the slack tide period, the tow master will position
the rigs aspect and heading and when satisfied the legs will be lowered and
rig pinned.
The rig will continue to jack the legs and the pontoon will be raised clear of
the water. At this point the second and third tugs are often dismissed but the
lead tug is retained with towline connected.
The rig will now pre-load. This means that water ballast is pumped into the
tanks to exert a load onto each leg to ensure that the seabed can take the
maximum loadweight of rig when drilling. This pre-loading can take up to 18
hours. On completion the lead tug is also dismissed.
Positioning Jack-ups for Workovers
In the Southern Sector of the North Sea jack up rigs are used to drill and work
over the wells for the small production jackets. To enable this the rigs are
placed directly alongside the jacket (only a few metres off) and the drill floor
is skidded over the jacket. Approach to this type of location is as before
however the tow master will stop the rig and jack down at another position

called the stand off location which is within 150 metres of the jacket. When
clear of the water the second and third tugs will let go and run the rigs small
anchors or ground tackle from both bow and stern. The tugs will reconnect
and tow master will wait for next slack water period. Utilising the tugs and
ground tackle together, the rig is refloated and then inched in towards the
final position alongside the jacket. The pontoon is raised clear of the water
and preloading takes place. With a workover, all tugs are retained as a rule
until satisfactory completion after which ground tackle is recovered and tugs


Lead Tug:
Disconnecting the tow is the reverse procedure of connecting. The gog wire
may be removed if necessary. As the tow wire is shortened manoeuvre the
tow wire in between the pop up pins and use tugger wires if necessary to
assist spooling the wire onto the drum.
Keep some weight on the wire to help create a good tight stow on the drum.
The vessel will be pulled back towards the rig, when the bridle pennant is in
the sharks jaw, disconnect the bridle from the tow/fuse wire. If the towing
pennant/bridle has a recovery wire, reconnect it before dropping the bridle
over the stern for the rig to recover.
Second Tug:
Initially, the same procedure is employed as when disconnecting the lead tug.
The towline is shortened and the vessel manoeuvred close to the rig. A
minimum length of wire is left slack between the vessels stern and the rig.
The rig crew will slip the soft eye connection off the bitts or trip the Smit
bracket and the wire will be dropped over the side. The vessel then recovers
the rest of the wire and clears the side of the rig.
Tow Connection

Semi sub rigs have permanent bridles rigged on the bow. They are either allwire or a combination of chain and wire, all connected via a monkeys
face link. The eye of the bridle is passed down to the tug via the rig crane

and secured in the sharks jaw. Connection to the tow wire via the fuse wire is
made with the towing shackle.
The tow wire is streamed to approx 300 metres and the vessel maintains
position ahead of the rig. The other tugs will lift the remaining anchors. The
rig will leave one of the stern anchors out and the towboat will hold the rig
steady by pulling on the tow wire against this stern anchor. This holds the rig
steady on location to enable the side anchors to be racked. Once the other
anchors have been recovered the rig will start to recover the last anchor itself
by hauling in on the cable. When the anchor clears the seabed, power is
increased and the tow passage starts. The other tugs if so required may also
rig their towlines and connect up to the rig to assist in the tow.
The tow is conducted in the same method as a jack up. The rig is towed to
the approach position, tow line shortened and course altered up towards
location. Semi subs in the North Sea are usually positioned on a North
Westerly heading so the approach position is often approx 5-6 miles south
east of final location. The lead tug will tow the rig under the direction of the
tow master as before. The other tugs will let go the tow and re-rig for anchor
Final Approach to Location
On final approach the rig will let go one of its stern anchors and pay out the
cable using the stern anchor as a brake. The rig is stopped over location and
position held by the lead tug pulling against the stern anchor. The other tugs
will commence running out the other rig anchors.
When the rig is secured by at least four of its moorings the lead tug is often
released from the towline to assist in running out the remaining anchors.
Letting Go the Tow
Tow wire is shortened with weight exerted on the line to ensure a good tight
stow on the reel. The bridle socket is secured in the sharks jaw, shackle
disconnected and eye passed back to the rig via the crane.
Towing Rigs on Anchors

It is becoming more common for a rig to shift location being towed by means
of its two forward anchor cables. When this is decided upon it is usual for one
of the anchor handlers to recover one of the bow anchors as soon as the
beam anchors are retrieved. When the anchor has been lifted, it will need to
be decked. The chain is then held in the jaw and the anchor disconnected. If a
fixed chaser has been used this too must be removed from the chain and
refitted under the anchor flukes when reconnecting the anchor.
The anchor can then be stowed and secured. The tow wire is then connected
to the anchor cable and with due regard to water depth the tow can be
streamed as and when the cable is retrieved.
The rig will leave 50 to 400 of chain out depending on weather, water depth
and restrictions of navigation.
A second vessel will tow on the other bow anchor cable which will be
connected after recovery of one of the stern anchors. When both tugs are
secure the rig will recover its own last stern anchor and the tow can
commence. At the new location the rig will lay its own first anchor and one
tug will reconnect its retained anchor and run it. This method can save time
and is quite straightforward. During the tow the rig may shear from quarter to
quarter depending on weather conditions acting on the rig.
Barge Towing
Flat top construction barges may have a permanent chain bridle of 3 inch
diameter chain rigged on the bow. Connection is made directly via the fuse
wire onto the open end link of the bridle. The chain bridle when disconnected
from the previous tow is hauled on top of the barge and secured. To make the
initial connection, the end of the ships tugger wire is hauled across to the
barge and shackled onto the end link. The vessel can either be made fast
alongside the barge, bow to stern or manoeuvre close to the bow of the
barge, depending on the weather.
The chain is slowly hauled onto the tugs stern and secured in the jaws. Care
should be exercised to avoid contact between stern of vessel and bow of the
The towline is connected via the fuse wire in the conventional way.

A second emergency towing pennant (wire rope) is rigged on the stern of the
barge. This is flaked on the deck of the barge and lightly secured by sacrificial
lashings. A floating messenger line is attached to the eye on board. The other
end of the messenger is secured to an orange pellet buoy and deployed over
the stern in the water. This towing pennant is the emergency rig, should the
tow part, the weight of the chain bridle will prove very difficult to recover if
the weather is rough. The floating messenger can be grappled and the eye of
the emergency tow pennant hove on board and connected onto the tow wire.
The tow wire is then lengthened and power increased, the light sacrificial
lashings will part thus allowing the rest of the emergency pennant to fall clear
over the side.
The barge will now be back under the control of the towing vessel. When
weather and circumstances allow, the main tow would be reconnected and
the emergency tow pennant is the re-rigged.