Wimpey Sealab
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s.s Liverpool Packet

t.s.s Markland

s.s Margaret Bowater

s.s Sarah Bowater

s.s Nicolas Bowater

m.s Elizabeth Bowater

m.s Constance Bowater

m.s Alice Bowater

m.s Gladys Bowater

m.s Phyllis Bowater

m.s Nina Bowater

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m.s Norskald visit Esjberg 2003

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After her intial conversion Wimpey Sealab went back to the shipyard to have a larger drill rig fitted as can be seen in the photograph on the left. No3 Hold was converted into a second engineroom with two large Mirless generator sets installed.Labratories were built just aft of No1 hold and No3 hatchcover was covered with engineroom updrafts and companionways to the crews quarters aft. There was even a helipad on the roof of the crews accommadation.
Wimpey Sealab by Alex Duncan courtesy of SHIPSEARCH(Marine)
Crew Contacted
Alan Stewart

" "

Gordon Fyvie

Keith Roberts

Brian Dubois

Richard Rea

Chief Officer

Master

Catering

Radio Officer

Electrician

Radio Officer

1972/73

1974/79

1976

1975

1970`s

1977

Keith Roberts sent me a very informative e-mail that I think is worth reproducing in full:

I was airlifted by helicopter from Plymouth Airport and landed on the Wimpey Sealabin the English Channel at position 49deg.43mins.North 04deg 16mins West on the 18th July 1975. At the time the Wimpwy Sealab was chartered by the French Government and we were drilling bore holes and taking hundreds of core samples below the seabed and transmitting all the scentific information to various authorites ashore.We did not stay in the same position, at times we were drilling bore holes in the Bay of Biscay and at other times we were drilling and taking samples up and down the English Channel.

The Wimpey Sealab was fitted with a dynamic positioning system(which I believe was quite an early version because the GPS computer on the bridge was quite a massive machine with revolving tapes)not like the modern minature types. The vessel was fitted with 4 thrusters to keep her in position controlled by the GPS computer and also a tight wire system which also helped to keep her in a fixed position when drilling.

It was quite a noisy vessel and a dangerous one as well, for example quite often the vessel would be drilling inside a busy sea lane in the English Channel, sometimes it would be very poor visibility with fog etc, all the navigation warningsregarding the Wimpey Sealabs operations would be broadcast via Landsend Radio, Niton Radio, Portishead Radio and most other coastal radio stations but other ships would cut in too close to us and some times nearly collide, but what qute often happened was that the wash off the ships passing too close would upset the dynamic positioning system and cause the Wimpey Sealab to be pushed off station, breaking drilling rods and causing expensive damage. Also when the weather was poor in the English Channel which it usually was it was mandatory to sound the vessels whistle at regular intervals this could be day and night making it difficult to sleep.

There were 60 odd crew onboard which included scientists, drillers and other bods including a French Government offical. There was only one of me however and I was kept busy throughout the day and late into the evening.

One of the thrusters got damaged whilst drilling in the Channel and the Sealab had to make an emergency call into Southampton for repairs and that is were I departed to take some shore leave. I do not remember who took over my duties but not long after the Wimpey Sealab was sent down to South America off the Brazilian coast.

Wimpey Sealab was sold to Coe Metcalf Shipping Ltd, Liverpool and renamed Pholas, this was in 1980.
Below is a scan of a promotional pack from Wimpey Marine that I have,it shows all the equipment the ship carried for its soil sampling and survey work.