Oil rig lost tow on way to U.S. shipyard

Ashley Fitzpatrick
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GSF Grand Banks spends about two days on its own in stormy seas

The crew of the GSF Grand Banks are being commended by the rig owner for their work in handling the semi-submersible, after the rig lost its tow and spent two unplanned days on its own in the North Atlantic last week.

The drill rig GSF Grand Banks at the Kiewit Offshore Services facility at Cow Head in this Telegram file photo.

The drill rig, with 99 crew aboard, was on its way to the southern United States last week, being towed by the Atlantic Hawk, when the tow was lost about 333 kilometres south of Cape Race and 315 kilometres east of Sable Island, Nova Scotia.

“After the tow line broke, the crew of the rig used the rig’s thrusters and its own power to navigate during this bad weather,” said Guy Cantwell, a spokesman for TransOcean. The company owns the GSF Grand Banks.

The tow was not immediately re-established because of the harsh weather and wave height, with waves reported running to seven metres.

However, the rig was put back under tow on 1:30 a.m. Friday morning, Cantwell said. He did not have the exact co-ordinates immediately available.

“There was no imminent danger to the crew at any time,” he noted.

The lost tow line received attention after first being reported Friday by Rob Almeida at gCaptain, a site specializing in news of marine vessels and transports.

As of Monday morning, staff at the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board said they were aware of the event. However, while a drilling rig is under tow, it is considered a vessel and the responsibility of Transport Canada and, if required, the Canadian Coast Guard.

The GSF Grand Banks is destined for a shipyard in Mississippi, where it will undergo a scheduled assessment and have some equipment replaced before it is towed back to offshore Eastern Canada.

The rig remains under contract for use in the local offshore, with the primary contractor being Husky Energy. The rig is contracted under a two-year agreement, running into September 2015.



Organizations: Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board, Transport Canada, Canadian Coast Guard.The GSF Grand Banks Husky Energy

Geographic location: United States, Cape Race, Sable Island Nova Scotia Mississippi

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Recent comments

  • david
    December 09, 2013 - 16:35

    Well, at least they cared enough about this one to hang around long enough to put a line back on it....not another "Orlova Special". But remember to recycle your tin cans, everyone !

  • Corporate Psycho
    December 09, 2013 - 15:36

    Transocean were the company in the Gulf that had the huge spill and employees killed on the Horizon rig. Then the Board of Directors got huge safety bonuses. I'm sure the CNLOPB will let this slide as they do with everything else.

  • Virginia Waters
    December 09, 2013 - 13:48

    Nothing like a minor marine mishap to draw attention to the fact that Trans Oceans would rather tow the vessel to the southern U.S. rather than have her refit in the province for which she's named or the country in which she was built. Media and opposition need to ask more questions, more quickly, when it comes to industrial benefits.

    • george p b
      December 09, 2013 - 16:36

      virginia--if what you say is true, was this contract bid for??? I was not aware that Newfoundland had the appropriate facilities for refit....yes indeed, plenty of questions that need answering...

    • Corporate Psycho
      December 09, 2013 - 18:23

      Hey George. Four refits have been completed here before.

  • george p b
    December 09, 2013 - 13:37

    Interesting --only one line connecting the rig with the tow boat. Why not a second back up line in case the tow line fails??? Seems like a "no brainer" safety issue...

  • david
    December 09, 2013 - 12:20

    The CNLOPB breathed a deep sigh of relief that they, once again, had nothing to worry about....someone else's problem, go back to enjoying the Xmas party.