A convoy at risk between Scotland and Turkey

28 Oct 2022

Between the night of Wednesday, October 18 and the dawn of Monday, October 24, a convoy coming from Northern Scotland went back and forth and zigzagged in the Bay of Seine. It consisted of the Marshall Islands-flagged tug Rota Endurance and the oil drilling platform Ocean Nomad (*), previously Marshall Islands-flagged, shortened to Nom just prior departing from Northern Scotland. The Ocean Nomad had been operated in the North Sea. She was built in 1975, 47 years ago. The tug Rota Endurance was detained in September 2021 in Amsterdam for 7 days for serious deficiencies regarding crew qualification and availability of watch systems.

According to the newly designated French Maritime Prefect for the Channel and the North Sea there was nothing particular or unusual. The convoy was “waiting for a logistical operation”. We do not know more for the moment about this mysterious and essential necessity. These adventurous tows to Turkish shipbreaking yards sites often end badly. This is another plague of exotic demolition. As an example, Robin des Bois (Robin Hood) recalls the last minute recovery of the tanker Varzuga after her towline broke (cf. “All at Sea”, May 6, 2021), The sinking of the two offshore supply vessels Maersk Searcher and Maersk Shipper off Brittany (see “Maersk keeps on getting rid of its garbage off Brittany”, December 22, 2016) or the grounding of the offshore oil platform Transocean Winner on the Scottish shores in August 2016 (“Offshore platforms: offshoring at all costs”, extract from “Shipbreaking” # 45, p. 5-6). The four of them were heading for the yards of Aliaga under tow.

Routine logistical operation?
Screenshot Marine Traffic

The Rota Endurance and the Ocean Nomad approaching the port of Le Havre on October 20, 2022, 2:30 p.m.

The buyer of the platform is the Turkish “cash buyer” Rota Shipping Inc based in Izmir, next to Aliaga shipbreaking yards. The purpose of the cash buyer is to buy end-of-life ships or offshore oil and gas platforms all across the globe and to sell them to scrapyards. Only two of Rota Shiping Inc.’s Turkish partner yards are approved by the European Union. However, the European Union proposes to withdraw the approval of Isiksan Gemi Sokum Ltd in the next update of its list. In October 2020, a worker fell and died during the dismantling of a drilling platform. Precautions to protect the workers were inadequate. Isiksan was also used to subcontracting the demolition of EU-flagged vessels to unapproved yards.

Robin des Bois wishes that the maritime prefectures of the Atlantic coast, the MRCCs (Maritime Rescue Coordination Centers) and the semaphorists will consider these convoys as dangers for navigation, for fishing activities and for the environment.

The convoy is currently off Lisbonne, Portugal. It will then cross the Strait of Gibraltar, the western and eastern Mediterranean. This risky 7,000 km-long journey is avoidable. Logically, it should even be prohibited. Alternatives exist. KPL, Kishorn Port Ltd, is established in Scotland. The yard was included in the European list on April 30, 2022. Dismantling operations are fully carried out in dry dock. Formerly a platform construction yard, KPL is now positioned as a site dedicated to their maintenance, refitting and dismantling. Other sites are available in Norway and the north of England.


(*) Robin des Bois mistakenly mentioned the Rota Endurance/Ocean Princess convoy in its press releases of October 20 and 21 only available in French. It was in fact the Rota Endurance/Ocean Nomad convoy.


The Ocean Princess is still waiting in Scotland. She was the subject of an instructive pirate video. Published on November 14, 2021, it shows the presence on board of equipment labeled “Radioactive LSA” (low specific activity). It is still planned to be scrapped in Turkey. To our knowledge, Turkey does not have any storage sites for radioactive waste.


Radioactive LSA

Link to the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uTcyj6rJ8wo
Link to ” Offshore platforms: offshoring at all costs”






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