From geronimo lines to Billy Pugh baskets, transferring personel from crewboats to rigs offshore has always been a percarious operation. And while the safety record and my personal experiences with the Billy Pugh baskets are both positive, both regulators and operators have long been looking for a safer way.
Some companies have moved to systems like Reflex Marine’s Frog, a unit that is basically a Billy Pugh basket with seats, but my personel experience with these units are mostly negative as they share the same basic principal, and thus same basic dangers, of their predecessors. What has been missing in this operation is a radical new design.
Enter The Offshore Access System (OAS) for heavy seas, a new product by Offshore Solutions. This heave-compensated gangway is built on a hydraulic pedestal equipped with motion sensors to detect the crewboat’s motions. The hydraulics are then engaged to maintain the gangway at a constant height relative to the horizon.
One problem with the technology is that, while it’s potentially useful for transferring personnel from boat to fixed platforms, it’s of less use transferring people to floating platforms due to the fact that the heave of boats never matches the heave of larger vessels. But with technology advancing at a rapid pace this could soon change. Fanbeam sensors currently use laser to line workboats up with dynamically positioned vessels and could possibly be used to match the motion of the ship with that of the gangway. If that happens then pilot boats could be outfitted with the device obviating the need for pilots to climb rope ladders.