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Old 22-07-2015, 12:48   #1
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LNG Ship Safety Zone

Does anyone know what the international safety zone is for an LNG (liquid Natural gas) ship? Yesterday, we came upon an LNG ship drifting ten miles off the coast of Northern Italy with its safety escort ship. We were more than two miles away when the safety ship confronted us... basically, a small destroyer sized tug boat which headed directly towards us at full speed until we altered course by 90 degrees. Then positioned itself between us and the LNG ship at rest about 50- 100 meters off our port beam for four miles, forcing us to alter course to around 2.5 miles away from the ship according to our radar.

Are theses ships allowed to basically hog 16 square miles of ocean where ever they go? If the ship is so vulnerable that a 16 meter sailboat traveling at 6 knots poses that much of a threat, then why does the parent company spend so much effort trying to convince the public how safe the ships are?

Inquiring minds want to know. What a PITA having to go around that thing... 2 mile radius.
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Old 22-07-2015, 12:57   #2
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Re: LNG Ship Safety Zone

I looked up the answer based on a suggestion of a early respondent which accidentally got erased.

According to the Italian regulations, a 1.5 nautical mile radius needs to be maintained around the mother ship. The escort ship captain was being a jerk when he chased us off to 2.5 miles. We would have gone around well within the Italian regulations.

Maybe this ISIS crap has the LNG guys on edge?
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Old 22-07-2015, 13:00   #3
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Re: LNG Ship Safety Zone

Not really. In order to maintain a 1.5 mile exclusionary zone, you can't wait until 1.5 miles to act. You have to take security action before the boat reaches the 1.5 mile mark.

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Old 22-07-2015, 13:02   #4
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Re: LNG Ship Safety Zone

The escort ship forced us to distance of 2.5 miles from the mother ship. We were never within 2 miles. When I say forced us, he came along side and steered a course angled towards us. His vessel was maybe 125ft to 150ft... Who's going to argue?
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Old 22-07-2015, 13:17   #5
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Re: LNG Ship Safety Zone

I see and appreciate your point of view, but maintaining a mobile exclusionary zone has some challenges. If you're closing at 6 knots and he's closing at 14, then the time to establish the security zone is 3 minutes. He probably wasn't being a jerk, maybe a little over cautious. I've worked on more than a couple exclusion zones and its definitely easier to be proactive then to wait until a vessel is right on your security line.

That mile gives him time to escalate his response before a violation occurs.

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Old 22-07-2015, 13:24   #6
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Re: LNG Ship Safety Zone

Just curious but why would you argue? Do you have a need to go closer? Did you speak with them on the radio?

When men with guns ask me to go x miles away I normally try to double that I don’t want anyone nervous.
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Old 22-07-2015, 13:33   #7
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Re: LNG Ship Safety Zone

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kenomac View Post
I looked up the answer based on a suggestion of a early respondent which accidentally got erased.

According to the Italian regulations, a 1.5 nautical mile radius needs to be maintained around the mother ship. The escort ship captain was being a jerk when he chased us off to 2.5 miles. We would have gone around well within the Italian regulations.

Maybe this ISIS crap has the LNG guys on edge?
Nail on head. I suspect that they are on heightened alert in the waters of the central Med. Such a vessel would be quite the bomb…
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Old 22-07-2015, 13:33   #8
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Re: LNG Ship Safety Zone

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Just curious but why would you argue? Do you have a need to go closer? Did you speak with them on the radio?

When men with guns ask me to go x miles away I normally try to double that I don’t want anyone nervous.
I never wrote that I argued with the guy. It's not that I wanted to get closer, I just didn't want to go any further out of my way than I needed to.

I guess most Americans are just used to being bullied by government and official looking entities, and never ask questions...

I'm asking.

Incidentally, the escort ship wasn't an Italian military boat, it was some sort of giant tug associated with the LNG company.

So, you're saying that you would willingly head 5 miles from the mother ship a go over ten miles out of your way? Just because some jerk told you to do it.
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Old 22-07-2015, 13:46   #9
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Re: LNG Ship Safety Zone

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I never wrote that I argued with the guy. It's not that I wanted to get closer, I just didn't want to go any further out of my way than I needed to.

I guess most Americans are just used to being bullied by government and official looking entities, and never ask questions...

I'm asking. Incidentally, the escort ship wasn't an Italian military boat, it was some sort of giant tug associated with the LNG company.
I'm not an American, my point is that I'm not sure you were being bullied, you were likely just the victim of the realities of enforcing a mobile exclusionary zone.

An unarmed privately owned tug has very few options for response escalation. Most of them would involve using wake, some kind of collision or calling big brother. None of those options would be very attractive to the tug captain so he allowed himself a greater margin for error than the legal minimum.

I might do the same in his shoes. I'm not trying to justify his actions, I'm just trying to give an idea of how the situation might appear through the other skippers eyes.

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Old 22-07-2015, 14:15   #10
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Re: LNG Ship Safety Zone

One of these ships contains the potential explosive energy of 50 Hiroshima sized atomic bombs. Not that all that energy could be concentrated like a nuclear bomb but if one were to torch off, there would be a big hole in the ocean. It would be the ultimate coup for one of the resident crazies in the Med. to set one off. Be thankful that you weren't allowed to get closer and that they are being that vigilant about maintaining the 'Safe Zone'.

If Russia was to shut off the natural gas pipelines to Europe, these ships would be the only thing keeping Europe from freezing to death. Probably wouldn't be all that successful as there just not enough of these ships. Expect to see more of them in the future. It's the only way to get Natural Gas across oceans. With the US awash in Natural Gas, expect we will be exporting a lot more of it to Europe and elsewhere with these ships.

There is a bit of controversy about the LNG ships because of their explosive potential. IIRC there is a book titled 'Time Bomb' about the dangers of a LNG ship explosion.
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Old 22-07-2015, 14:39   #11
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Re: LNG Ship Safety Zone

As I get older I tend not to get as worked up over a couple hours of extra sailing. I don’t really want to be that close to a LNG tanker in the first place.

I try not to assume someone is a jerk just because they have inconvenienced me.

What was the radio conversation like?
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Old 22-07-2015, 14:47   #12
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Re: LNG Ship Safety Zone

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Originally Posted by Kenomac View Post
I never wrote that I argued with the guy. It's not that I wanted to get closer, I just didn't want to go any further out of my way than I needed to.

I guess most Americans are just used to being bullied by government and official looking entities, and never ask questions...

I'm asking.

Incidentally, the escort ship wasn't an Italian military boat, it was some sort of giant tug associated with the LNG company.

So, you're saying that you would willingly head 5 miles from the mother ship a go over ten miles out of your way? Just because some jerk told you to do it.
Hi, you mentioned that the LNG was drifting, if so was he dead in the water? I personally would want to be no less than 2.5 nm from it. If and that's a if, any thing goes wrong, and a explosion occurred, you would be much safer at 2.5nm.
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Old 22-07-2015, 15:16   #13
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Re: LNG Ship Safety Zone

First you must know that it works if LNG gasing up part of the mixture going out into the environment, while 98% of the gas in the tanks. If the gas is heavier than the ambient gas fall on the sea surface and can ignite or can be toxic if you get into the cloud. There is a reason why you must keep your distance, do not be stubborn move away from them for your good health. I was working on LPG & LNG ships many years and what i say is from expirience you newer know what this crew doing special on drifting and what cargo they have. Sometime if they going to change cargo they empty tanks in to the air. because they never discharge all ,pumps pumping liquid but gas remain on board. If gas is VCM you don't fill odor but you are in few month dead.
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Old 22-07-2015, 15:35   #14
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Re: LNG Ship Safety Zone

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First you must know that it works if LNG gasing up part of the mixture going out into the environment, while 98% of the gas in the tanks. If the gas is heavier than the ambient gas fall on the sea surface and can ignite or can be toxic if you get into the cloud. There is a reason why you must keep your distance, do not be stubborn move away from them for your good health. I was working on LPG & LNG ships many years and what i say is from expirience you newer know what this crew doing special on drifting and what cargo they have. Sometime if they going to change cargo they empty tanks in to the air. because they never discharge all ,pumps pumping liquid but gas remain on board. If gas is VCM you don't fill odor but you are in few month dead.
Good lord.... and the environmental activists are more worried about me flushing a turd into the ocean. The entire world is upside down and bass-ackwards.
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Old 22-07-2015, 15:41   #15
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Re: LNG Ship Safety Zone

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Hi, you mentioned that the LNG was drifting, if so was he dead in the water? I personally would want to be no less than 2.5 nm from it. If and that's a if, any thing goes wrong, and a explosion occurred, you would be much safer at 2.5nm.
The Med is deep, weve seen tankers drifting all the time near the Straight of Gibraltar waiting their turn to unload. Nothing unusual about seeing a large vessel drifting. Just check AIS signals in the Med anytime to see one drifting.

It doesn't mean they're ready to blow up. If that was the case, I guess we'd hear about tanker explosions all the time.
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