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Thursday, 10 March 2011

Ours is not to reason why, Ours is but to chip and grind.

For those avid followers of this humble Blog O Gramme, you will be all too aware that I often mention how much painting, greasing, grinding &cetera that we as deckies undertake.
It is not that we are ragging the ship into oblivion, merely getting on top of things before the work overtakes the workforce. I don't envy those on The Patricia or any older ship that must be doing this all of the time to then watch the bit they've just done rust over again!

Galatea has spent the last couple of week in Harwich undergoing a general refit. Now as you can imagine this is a gargantuan task. Not only is it a boat, it is also a floating home for the 20 crew and officers on board. Not only this but a floating depot/storage facility/worksite. You can imagine the damage a 2 tonne sinker would do as it is lifted from the sea in a swell were it to strike the boat.
The consistant use of the gear, most of which is made out of heavy metal takes its toll.

A brief idea of the work we've been undertaking follows.

Chipping back rust spots, priming then painting; Mainly on the Davits (A crane for lifting the tenders in and out of the water),the High Focal Buoy pods, in which we hold our Class 1 big bastard buoys (see Blog O Gramme on Buoy Bashing. Also the life boat cradles and other such areas of the ship that are inaccessible and at use whilst at sea.

Cleaning the hull of ship. It's a big bugger, we reach the topsides by using a cage on a crane. An environmentally friendly cleaning product called Viceroy is used. This took four men three days

Cleaning the big crane on the stern, for this we use a cherry picker on the Quay along with some guys working at height on the crane itself.

Grinding back the welds where windows have been covered over. Enter the crane and cage for this as they are 2 decks high. Each window took four hours and five grinding discs. They were then primed and painted. Of course.

Welding the Gunwhale area from where we lift the Buoy chains onto the boat. The friction here is massive, the effect of the chain rubbing gives a wrinkling effect. When lifting you sometimes see smoke and sparks.

We are having some interior changes done, for which we have contractors working hard day and night.

Servicing the two tenders, one of which is getting a new slip slap slop it on paint job.

The smaller crane on the back of the Ship has just been fixed after a few months of being broken. I was volunteered to be the one to catch the leaking hydraulic oil in a bucket. I'll let you guess how much of the 200 litres reached the bucket and how much found me.

Void inspection. For this we have what is called a Permit to Work. A Permit to work is also enforced if there is work being done by the RADAR. If it was turned on when you were near it then you would be lucky if you were only made sterile. The permit is signed and a note kept by the RADAR monitor warning it not be used. I may post more in depth about Permits to Work later on.
The bridge is notified when anyone is entering a void (Usually a space between hull and boat interior). A team of two enter to check for any damage, especially if we have taken a large knock at a particular point of the vessel. Prior to entering, oxygen levels are checked and two men are on standby with breathing apparatus for those who enter. There are still many cases within the shipping industry of people entering voids and dying. Sometimes through inhalation of noxious gasses, through there being no oxygen, or even not notifying of entry and knocking themselves out or, rarely, being sealed back into the void.
Once here, any damage there may be is welded, ground and chipped, primed then painted depending on severity.

So yes there's a lot to do, the above list is but a mere smattering of the tasks and jobs we undertake. So I'd better get on with it.

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