In the early 1970s Brown & Root took one of their lay barges (B 352 I believe) and a burying barge from GoM over to the North Sea to work on the Forties pipeline.
They also brought a couple of West India Line boats as pipe carriers:
I met one of the Captains that had been on the WIL boats in Japan in 1976 when loading heavy lifts on WIL boats for Saudi Aramco. He explained that the attitude was that; “the North Sea is not even as big as the GoM so what is the problem”?
When the first autumn storm rolled in off the Atlantic the B 352 was caught flat footed. The deck got washed bare of loose equipment, including life rafts. Even the crawler crane went overboard.
The first GoM drilling rig that was towed across to work in the North Sea was the “Mr. Cap” (Le Tourneau’s Blt. No. 3)
She later came to S.E.Asia as R&B’s “Chris Segar” and worked for Brunei Shell.
The Superintendent for R&B had been on her in the North Sea as Driller when working in the Southern Gas fields. He told some stories.
In the beginning they used the same airgap as used in the GoM (35’)
When the first storm came along, the rig got lifted up and slammed back on the hard sand bottom, resulting in damages to the jacking system, jack towers and surrounding hull structure.
Thereafter they consulted Capt. David Noble to get a recommended airgap for the area of operation, which later became standard procedure.
He had advised on preparation for the tow from GoM to UK as a condition from Lloyds Insurance. (The first Warranty Survey carried out)
The Superintendent in Brunei had also been on board in Galveston at the time and was duly impressed with Capt. Noble. As he told it:
He came on board, walked around the rig, gave us a list of the things to be done and the number to his hotel and said; “When you are ready, call me. If you haven’t done it, don’t bother to call”.
The good ol’ boys appreciated tough talking. I know, I worked with many of them from when I first started as a Freelance Warranty Surveyor with NDA in 1974.