• ETC
  • Jul 17, 2014
There are some cool things about the oil industry. Well, one at least. This is the Dockwise Vanguard heavy marine transport vessel, and it is a marvel. It is 900 feet long, 230 feet wide, and can carry a total of 117,000 metric tons (that's almost 258 million pounds!). That is enough to carry an offshore oil platform, which is impressive in and of itself, but it's how the Vanguard loads its cargo that is particularly nifty.

The Dockwise Vanguard partially (mostly, actually) submerges its deck as far as 50 feet underwater, maneuvers underneath its cargo, then resurfaces with its cargo now on its deck. With no traditional bow or stern, and with the deck open on the sides, it can even transport payloads that extend beyond its own dimensions. For instance, the Vanguard was chosen to carry away the 952-foot-long Costa Concordia cruise ship, which wrecked off the coast of Italy, but it appears that the wreck will now be towed.

Dockwise has other semi-submersible ships in its fleet, but none so massive as the Vanguard. The smaller MV Blue Marlin is notable for bringing home the Navy's USS Cole after it was bombed in 2000 at a port in Yemen, leaving a 40-foot hole in its hull. Last year, the Tern transported 14 barges from Argentina to Columbia.

The Vanguard, though, specializes in moving oil rigs. It, as well as the other semi-submersibles, can also be used as a drydock, lifting ships or structures out of the water to be repaired and maintained on-site. The Vanguard and other Dockwise vessels surely have other possible uses that haven't even been thought up yet, but will be as the need arises. Clients "are all amazed that we've actually built this vessel, that it's actually sailing, and they're already stretching their own minds to think of ways to use it," says Dockwise's Robb Erickson.

And if you find the Vanguard impressive, you should know that another semi-submersible heavy marine transport vessel – one even more massive than the mighty Vanguard – may be in the works. Learn more about the improbable Dockwise Vanguard in the video below, or check out this article at Wired. Dockwise also has a handful of impressive videos on its website.


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  • 21 Comments
      BipDBo
      • 5 Months Ago
      Very cool boat! Or is it a submarine? " With no traditional bow or stern," I'm not sure what that means. It sure looks like it has a bow and a stern just like any cargo ship, just a bit lower freeboard.
      Ziv
      • 5 Months Ago
      I think I can name one other cool thing about the oil industry. How many businesses have the skills and equipment to drill miles into the earth, frequently in the most God-forsaken parts of the world, drilling deep and or at a slant to get the best results. Then they pump crude oil out of the ground and ship it to the coast where it is loaded onto ships the size of the neighborhood you grew up in. Those ships, modern marvels each and every one, then take that crude oil thousands of miles to a port near you where the crude is refined into a veritable menagerie of useful products, from gasoline to jet fuel, from road building materials like asphalt to heating fuel, to diesel fuel... Well you get the idea. Then those same companies take that gasoline and ship it to one of dozens of gas stations within a mile of you. Gasoline so energy dense and so inexpensive that there has never been a product quite like it. And that gas station is so clean that can, and probably do, occasionally eat a burrito purchased there and chase it down with a bottle of water. And the funny thing is that the bottle of water, pumped out of a moderately polluted river less than 200 miles from your home, then given a haphazard filtration process, costs more than the gasoline that came to you from Venezuela or Nigeria. A pint of water costs a dollar, sometimes more. So your bottled water costs $8 a gallon or more. And your gasoline costs less than $4 a gallon. Think about that for a second. And then go back to your whinging and whining about "Big Oil".
        EVSUPERHERO
        • 5 Months Ago
        @Ziv
        Last time I checked oil is between 2.50 and 5 dollars a quart, water is still cheaper. There are many reasons gasoline is not bottled. If they use enough water to extract oil, yes, water will become more expensive. Bad analogy. One you drink to sustain life and one you burn to poison the humans air. I still don't think the poison is cheaper. It is only because you can package and sell water in a small quantity for convenience that make it seem cheaper than gas or oil. Water out of my hose tap will, at this point in time, be cheaper than gasoline out of a gas station nozzle. Poison enough of the water and burn enough carbon and water will become more scarce and expensive than the marvelous oil poison. Oil is relatively cheap for one reason, expenses are externalized to the public and determent of planet and profits are internalized to the poison producers.
        FordGo
        • 5 Months Ago
        @Ziv
        You just defined Peak Oil: "How many businesses have the skills and equipment to drill miles into the earth, frequently in the most God-forsaken parts of the world, drilling deep and or at a slant to get the best results. " Capitalism, where only profit is prioritized, giving no weight to Human Survival.
        Ryan
        • 5 Months Ago
        @Ziv
        It only costs less then $4/gal because we taxpayers subsidize it. Security, leases, pollution damages and more...
        Grendal
        • 5 Months Ago
        @Ziv
        Perspective is a wonderful thing.
          Ziv
          • 5 Months Ago
          @Grendal
          Electron, I stated that the bottled water you buy by the pint costs "$8 a gallon or more". Since a pint of Deer Park costs between $0.99 and $1.49 in most gas stations, I actually underplayed the expense of the water that is bottled a couple hundred miles away. Gasoline is a bargain at $4 a gallon. And it is a reasonably priced commodity at $5 a gallon, which is why Europeans don't really seem to scream to loudly with regards to the price of gasoline/petrol in Europe. And here comes a huge confession. I think we are at Peak Oil right now. That the price of drilling for tight oil will make the price of gasoline just high enough that electric cars will slowly but inexorably steal ICE vehicles lunch. Which is why I drive a Volt. But I have a huge amount of respect for what the energy industry has done and is doing. They literally keep the lights on and the wheels turning. Oh, and Electron, be sure and let me know when I can buy imported bottled water for $0.50 a pint here in the States. No?
          Ziv
          • 5 Months Ago
          @Grendal
          Electron, I think our national balance of trade is turning our economy into a house of cards, even with the Bakken growing by leaps and bounds. And while I don't think that Peak Oil is going to turn out the way the doom and gloomers assumed (did you notice The Oil Drum dropped off the net? Neither did most other people that care about Peak Oil.), I do think that we are at Plateau Oil. We have been here for 9 or 10 years, pumping around 70M-85M BPD, depending on how you count production types, (albeit with the Bakken really surging), and we will be within 10% of this figure in 5 or 6 years. By the time 2020 rolls around we will have better options for fueling our cars and it won't matter (as much) that the world output of oil declines 5-10% per decade because we will be using electricity to power our cars. Not to mention the fact that even Ford's hybrids will be getting half again the mpg that they get now. We simply won't want as much oil as we would otherwise have wanted. And that transition to powering our cars w/electricity will happen in large part because I chose to sell my gas guzzling Toyota and buy an electricity sipping Volt. Well, maybe not in large part. But I have been trying to do my part since before I started reading what Dr. Lyle had to say about the Volt back in 2008.
          FordGo
          • 5 Months Ago
          @Grendal
          Water might soon cost 8$ a gallon, in Texas and CA. http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu
          FordGo
          • 5 Months Ago
          @Grendal
          "But I have a huge amount of respect for what the energy industry has done" - Agreed. "... and is doing." - Disagree.
          Electron
          • 5 Months Ago
          @Grendal
          @ ZIV: So basically gasoline is a great deal compared to the bottled water scam the gas stations are running. Guess that would be true but I fail to see the relevance of that observation. Wonder why you bought that Volt if you think gasoline is a great deal even at $10/gallon the Europeans are paying and offered by an industry that has your utmost respect.
          Electron
          • 5 Months Ago
          @Grendal
          ...even the sort that comes from the suggestion that water costs $8 a gallon? You know that isn't actually true right?
      FordGo
      • 5 Months Ago
      In economics this is called building future "Stranded Assets", assets that won't pay for themselves in the near future, as EV's, hybrids, batteries, solar and wind power all get cheaper and acquire greater capacity. You'd think the oil industry would be transitioning out of 1900's tech. But, their business model is DELL. Ignore the future, shrink and die.
      Electron
      • 5 Months Ago
      Very nifty indeed. Very pricey too no doubt. In fact data from Bank of America show that oil and gas investment in the US has soared to $200bn a year and according to IEA global investment in fossil fuel supply doubled in real terms to $900bn from 2000 to 2008. That should buy one some pretty nifty toys. "The cumulative blitz on exploration and production over the past six years has been $5.4 trillion, yet little has come of it. Output from conventional fields peaked in 2005. Not a single large project has come on stream at a break-even cost below $80 a barrel for almost three years". In fact with green technology threatening to undercut ever more marginal oil production and with the climate change agenda moving forward these massive investments in marginal oil are tipped as the subprime danger of this cycle by the Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/comment/ambroseevans_pritchard/10957292/Fossil-industry-is-the-subprime-danger-of-this-cycle.html Dockwise Vanguard is proudly afloat now but soon a stranded asset?
      EVSUPERHERO
      • 5 Months Ago
      i am sure we would all be more impressed if this vessel did not use stinky bunker fuel to get around. Of course what else would a oil vessel burn to get about?
      brotherkenny4
      • 5 Months Ago
      The new methods of oil production such as deep water drilling are precisely what will allow EVs to overtake ICEs. The extent to which we must go to supply the demand for oil is what drives up price, and as price climbs, alternatives become more competitive than they already are. So, deep water drilling, fracking, and tar sands oil production are a key reason why oil prices are pinned permanently high. As the lower cost traditional production methods are reduced in importance, the price will rise even more. The real question is, will we survive until the change has been completed? Being impressed with the tools of our own destruction is a lunatics endeavour.
      JB
      • 5 Months Ago
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1DZfdX42CZo
      Ryan
      • 5 Months Ago
      Hope the seas don't get too rough... Seems way too complicated to get oil when the solar panels on my roof provide power for my EV. Then this ship and all of the expenses and bunker oil it uses can go away.
        FordGo
        • 5 Months Ago
        @Ryan
        Exactly. Will it be a stranded asset in 10 years or 5?
          Ryan
          • 5 Months Ago
          @FordGo
          Solar panels should work for 40+ years. The next generation of batteries will be even better than today's in 15 years hopefully, and the current ones will provide a battery backup for the house.
      lne937s
      • 5 Months Ago
      I believe that is Valletta in the background...
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