When GAC South Africa’s team in Cape Town was appointed to handle the passage of two tugs, Fairmount Summit and Fairmount Expedition, towing the floating production storage and offloading (FPSO) Berge Helene bound for the Far East, the odds seemed to be stacked against them. But perseverance and professionalism paid off.
Appointed by BW Offshore Limited, a leading provider of floating production services to the oil & gas industry, the GAC team were already facing tight deadlines as they waited for the convoy to arrive from Mauritania for refuelling, delivery of stores, spares and provisions plus crew changes, before continuing their journey to Indonesia and Singapore. Then, the weather delivered a new blow. As the fleet neared the port, conditions deteriorated with winter cold fronts battering Cape Town forcing them to seek shelter 12NM off South Africa’s St Helena Bay, 12 hours’ sail away.
There wasn’t a moment to waste. GAC had to find a way to ensure the safe passage of the convoy and her crew on schedule. As soon as the weather improved, they chartered a local tug to help stabilise Berge Helene while the tow tugs took turns to complete operations in Cape Town port with the smallest possible delay. Immigration and customs clearance was arranged for the 37-strong crew, who disembarked via helicopter outside of St Helena Bay, followed by a further crew change once the tugs and vessel reached port.
The job was successfully concluded as GAC South Africa celebrates 20 years of operations. Operations Manager Morné van Vuuren says: “It is exactly these types of operations and challenges to overcome the odds, when time is not on our side, that has built our reputation over the past two decades. By combining our local expertise and contacts with the GAC Group’s global resources, we enabled the fleet to continue their journey safely and as quickly as possible. What better way to celebrate our 20th birthday?”
Lars Mølborg, BW Offshore’s Technical & Maintenance Manager for FPSO Berge Helene, also echoed this sentiment: “Upon reaching the Cape of Good Hope, the convoy faced adverse sea and weather conditions that required timely expertise to be able to navigate safely for the vessel, tow tugs and their crew. Working with GAC ensured their safe transit with minimal delay as the convoy prepared for the next leg of its journey to Asia.”
GAC South Africa covers all major South African ports from its head office in Cape Town and branches in Saldanha Bay, Durban, Richards Bay and Port Elizabeth.
Source: GAC Group