Crew transfer by swing ropes

This is still a common way to transfer crew to/from crew boats in many parts of the world:

Don’t know where this video was shot,

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I think in mexico. I’ve seen it before. There were some folks commenting about it in FB.

Most of the platforms in so cal still use swing rope unless the weather doesn’t allow for it…and i’ll tell you this much, you got to get a helluva lot closer than that boat is in this video or no one will swing.

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We only used swing ropes to transfer the crane driver and dog man because the platform was unmanned. Once the crane was fired up the rest were transferred by Billy Pugh. We had a small removable platform on the port quarter where a crew member gathered the swing rope with a boat hook and the guys grabbed it and swung across.

Anyway you slice it billy pugh is safer.

Assuming you got a good crane operator, good crane, good boat operator, passengers not afraid of heights, etc…


I agree with the billy Pugh being safer. I was always told allot of the cranes in California aren’t certified for it.

Yeah, i was especially told that when i was making a weather call and suggested using the billy pugh. ‘Our crane aint certified cap!’

All kidding aside, most of the platforms off huntington beach are not, and maybe a few in the SB channel.

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I think the old Chevron platforms Grace and Gail are certified, none of old Union Oil rigs are. Hondo and the ones north some yes some no.

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Swung on ropes many times, not in the best conditions either. I don’t even remember a hard hat or steel-toe boots for the first few years I worked offshore. Glad I’m here so say that.

There use to be a hydraulic platform that moved, simulating vessel movement, and you would get “swing rope” training in Houma. I guess that went away years ago.

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Not leaving

I’ve heard of that but haven’t seen that. I have worked for some companies that prior to going out to the boat you’d get a swing test. It was usually bullshit and often times you’d get some big fellas that would just step across instead of swinging like they should, after you finally made contact with the boat (often times harder than you liked!) .
When i worked for exxon they would actually make sure you could hold your weight on the swing rope. I want to say it was hold your weight for at least 30 seconds but I can’t remember.

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Had to chuckle at marooned post. The swing rope work was off Vietnam working out of Vung Tau. There was a pretty consistent swell of 3 metres with the monsoon conditions but it could quickly get up to 5+ metres in the afternoon. We could get the workers off the platform using the Billy Pugh but the crane driver and dog man were marooned over night and had to stay in a small tin shed on the platform. After dumping the passengers off on the FIPSO, also by Billy Pugh, and then we returned to the platform with an insulated container of food for the overnight guests on the platform.
I was also working a jack up close by so it was a AHTS rather than a crew boat.

I recall in the old days running a crewboat and to sterning into an Exxon rig in bad wx in CA and there was so much swell the tires on the stern of the boat would smoke. All the other rigs we came alongside. Not sure why Exxon was different.

The exxon rig landings are set up facing east and west. They did that because normal conditions are westerly, therefore using the east landings there’s a bit of a lee. If you wanted to go alongside those landings you would be in the trough most of the time.

You are right. Most of the other platforms, especially the ones off santa barbara and ventura, are set up to go alongside. High overheads and the landings are on the north and south side.

One can encounter lots of current and weather running the santa barbara channel. Great place to learn boat handling.

That’s exactly right, I never really thought about it since it wasn’t my normal gig. I would bet we have probably worked together, or at least for the same company.

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I wrote about a swing rope accident on my website a while ago which might help those with a limited understanding of the process. Access here

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Hehe. That’s no lie. Most of 'em hardly ever swing. We called 'em “steppers”, because they would wait until the tires were kissing the boat landing and then step off. The boat crew however, who almost never swung, looked like Tarzan when they did it.

As swing ropes go, I believe its safer when you are alongside. The tires are not as wide so you’re closer for the steppers. I ran a crew boat out of a pier (also alongside) to 3 Unocal platforms. Super busy they were 1/2 mile apart, 80 to 100 landings a day. Never had a single incident.

I guess my experience was quite different. The landing platform was slightly lower than the platform where the two experienced people who judged their launch stood. I had to maintain a distance off the platform of between 3 to 5 feet. Contact with the platform and a 3000 tonne AHTS is not recommended irrespective of tires in a 3 metre swell. DP for supply boats was still in the future.

One thing i noticed when i had my brief stint in the GOM was a lot of the platforms didn’t have user friendly swing rope landings. Obviously i didnt see every single variation there but based on what i saw thats what i thought.
The platforms in california usually have multiple steps factoring in for tide and various sized vessels freeboard wise.