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LAND AND MARINE 1983 trencher RTM III 

The remotely controlled underwater trenching machine RTM III was used to cut two 45 km trenches from Britain to Sangatte, France in order to lay 2000MW electricity cables. An identical backup machine was also built in case the first broke down or was damaged. The machine was controlled from the support vessel LM Balder by means of a 350m umbilical line.

The machine was used to lay a 35 mm diameter steel wire. The following year, a cable laying machine developed by Balfour Kirkpatrick pulled itself along using this wire to lay the two 105mm diameter cables

Robert Keith Hadn’t seen one of these large trenchers fitted with buoyancy tanks before. Reminiscent of a much smaller unit we used to bury pipelines in the GOM with Frank Wade and Marine Jetting. It was ‘ballasted’ using two 55gal drums with vented compartments, and filled using the diver’s pnemo hose. Once the jets started, you couldn’t see anything, so I often crawled around it on deck with my eyes closed; 2200psi will put a hole in you.

Derek Beddows   I was working for L&M during this time, my contribution to the project was to study the cable routes and landfalls for what was probably the first electrical Interconnector to the UK. I remember this period as being the high point of L&M which was reflected in a Queens Award for Technology

Michael Fitzsimmonds. I was on the Land & Marine Balder in 1990 with Martin Dane, we were in Cruden Bay trenching the replacement BP Forties export line. I seem to recall that was the Mkiv Trenching tool, got pretty trashed by all the boulders. Oceaneering had a 1 Atm suit onboard as well. Martin was the BP Rep and I was on there for McDermott/Etpm then later out to Forties Charlie for the spool tie-ins and hydrotest. Great days and even greater jobs.

Steve Goodwin As we closed the offices, I called Terry Weston (Georges son) and asked them if they wanted all of our models for the college. They came and collected them for show and to give the apprentices an idea of what could be achieved. A small attempt at keeping the memory of a small company punching well above it’s weight alive in the area…..Think we re-purposed the electronic pressure pods when we built PBP4

Alex Scott I remember it well. My first job after university. The burial was undertaken from the ITM Venturer which became Prysmian’s Gulio Verne.

Neil Fixter I remember this well!! I was on the assembly build and commissioning of RTM III, over in Teeside. Then I was a part of the operations team on the LM Balder down in the English Channel throughout the trenching operations. Happy





Amoco used the Transworld Drilling’s harsh environment deep water jack up Mr Mac on Arbroath.

A 12 slot drilling template was installed in 1979 and semisubmersibles were used to drill three appraisal wells. Field economics could not justify a large steel platform so the plan for Arbroath was a 21 slot normally unmanned platform operated from Montrose.


Ian Leslie.  The jack up chewed up all the seabed around the template where it kept having to re-spud. Arbroath was one the first UKCS jackets to be installed onto under leg support piles (we had to change the jacket support foundation design in the yard, removed the mudmats). At the time a new innovative support method developed by Heerema to eliminate massive costs of seabed levelling prior to jacket installation. I was part of the PMT and Amoco UK Offshore Rep on the Hermod.





1983 Ardersier
Mrathon’s Brae A jacket being built


Mike Banks My recollection was that the launch barge M44 from Micoperi and that the pile barge was the H109 from Herrema. a number of the Brae A piles were snaffled by BP when some piles for Magnus during the upending process became detached inside their guides an effectively speared the jacket to the seabed in a semi upended state

John Middlemist

a video of Magnus that’s interesting and explains what happened – enjoy





Testing Shell’s Eider platform 1985
Shell’s Eider featured vertical unguided piles driven by underwater hammers resulting in weight savings. It was the largest platform to be barge-launched ( the others being floated out) and was self-upending.
Tests were carried out at the BMT ocean test facility in Feltham.

In the passive system, water slowly flooded through holes in the jacket legs, but buoyancy tanks kept the entire structure off the bottom. This method obviated a conventional ballast control system.

The uprighting sequence was quick making it less susceptible to weather changes

Friday Photos. Total’s Alwyn North

As seen from the South West

Nick Clement

I was on board the Heerema barge with KD Marine (Diving) during this install. I recall that Initially there was a delay with the launching of the jacket, due to some squabbling between Total and the insurance company as a result of the plummeting oil price, at the time.

Eventually the launch took place, the jacket got landed in situ and was piled in place to completion. Then, whilst the top side package build and associated Hook-Ups were taking place, one of the barge’s big rigs was positioned over the top of the platform rigged up to a pre installed tubular casing, lifting it through the structure intending to marry up a couple of flanges, the slings/wire ropes parted, the barge heaved some what and as a result of the falling/damaged rigging  it wiped out a couple of guys who never made it home from work that year.

I was in the chamber at the time so never experienced the subsequent medivac stuff that took place as a result of this failure, but then we had to do an inspection survey of damaged jacket members as a result of the casing crashing back down to where it had been hung off originally. I do also recall an incident with a couple of lads getting washed over board on one of the anchor handling tugs at the time too but can’t exactly recall whether that incident was at this particular location or not.

The crane driver responsible, apparently was understandably distraught (although not necessarily completely to blame because the casing/conductor had got hung up somewhere unbeknown to the riggers on the platform and they continued to request the crane to “come up” he obviously had a strain gauge to refer to, but all too late!)   and climbed down from the crane and requested a relief. Sad eh!!






Friday Photos Erskine 1996
The 2720t Erskine jacket on the Saipem M-44 barge prior to its installation in the field by the Saipem S7000 heavy lift vessel



1986 Brown and Root Backfill Plough
Its inaugural job was to bury 12km of 8in line between Auk and Fulmar for Shell using the BAR Protector. It’s manufacturers, Soil Machine Dynamics, hailed this is a ‘world’s first’ for a surface-hauled backfill plough.

The line was previously trenched by Brown and Root’s PL1 pipeline plough, built by SMD. The work took 34 hours.

The combination was later used on Texaco’s Petronella field.