What cruise ships do when they need to hitch a ride

(CNN) — Few man-made movable constructions are bigger than a trendy cruise ship, however even these giants of the ocean generally need somebody to lend them a hand to get to port.

So what do you do when one among these giants of the ocean is unable to transfer by itself energy?

You name a ship-carrying ship, or, to be extra exact, a “semi-submersible heavy transport vessel,” such because the Boka Vanguard.

Constructed in 2012, the 275-meter-long Boka Vanguard is the most important ship of its variety. Sometimes it transports giant offshore oil and gasoline constructions, however sometimes it will likely be known as on to to carry different vessels — similar to occurred with the Carnival Vista again earlier than the pandemic.

The Carnival Vista is the second largest in Carnival’s fleet, with capability for 4,000 passengers and 1,500 crew, and in July 2019 it wanted rescuing after experiencing a malfunction in Caribbean waters.

Cranes aren’t actually an possibility when you need to elevate a 133,500-ton ship out of the water (the most important cranes on the planet elevate about 20,000 tons), so the Boka Vanguard makes use of a quite completely different method.


This peculiar-looking vessel has a flat, open central deck — fully empty — with 5 giant vertical wall-like constructions protruding from its sides. The management bridge and the crew’s residing quarters are nested in one among them, which is significantly bigger and taller than the opposite 4.

The ship’s awkward form hides a complicated system of ballast tanks that makes it potential for it to turn into semi-submerged, with solely the highest of the vertical constructions remaining over water. Several types of floating cargoes, together with entire ships, can then slide onto its deck to be correctly mounted. That is known as the “float-on” operation.

As soon as the cargo has been secured on deck, the ballast tanks might be emptied for the Boka Vanguard to emerge once more from the water, lifting its heavy cargo upwards with it. It could actually then begin its journey identical to every other ship. When it has arrived at its meant vacation spot, the method is reversed. That is the “float-off” stage.

“We merely make the most of Archimedes’ regulation to elevate some huge cargoes,” says Michel Seij, world engineering normal supervisor at Boskalis, the Dutch firm that owns Boka Vanguard. You would possibly bear in mind the Archimedes precept from the “Eureka!” story — any physique submerged in fluid is acted upon by an upward pressure, with a magnitude equal to the burden of the fluid displaced by the physique.

The oil and gasoline trade

Boskalis ships, for instance, have assisted within the transportation of two US Arleigh Burke Class destroyers after they have been each broken in two separate collisions with service provider ships in Asian waters in 2017, USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62) and USS John S. McCain (DDG-56). Though on that event it was not the Boka Vanguard, however two smaller semi-submersible heavy elevate ships, the Transshelf and Treasure respectively.

Ship-carrying is not among the many commonest assignments for such a ships. The bread-and-butter work is shifting platforms and heavy tools all over the world’s main offshore oil and gasoline fields. However you by no means know.

Within the case of the Carnival Vista, the need to name within the Boka Vanguard arose when the ship’s propulsion system malfunctioned and the one dry dock within the area wasn’t accessible. Another answer had to be discovered.

“We have been known as in at quick discover, however we managed to dispatch the ship rapidly. It took a couple of weeks for our ship to get to the Caribbean from Europe and one other week to care for all the required preparations. What adopted was a very easy operation and the cruise ship was safely transported to Freeport, Bahamas. Throughout this operation a part of the cruise ship’s crew remained on board,” says Seij of the Carnival Vista dry-docking operation.

The Boka Vanguard is just not solely the most important ship of its variety, making it potential for it to comfortably include the 325-meter-long Carnival Vista inside its construction, however it can be used as a shifting dry-dock, making it potential to conduct upkeep on the ship whereas underway or in port.

This was the case with the Carnival Vista, a clockwork operation assisted by a number of smaller vessels, that has offered us with mesmerizing footage of the entire sequence.

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