O&S Shipping’s Float-In Operation on SS4 a Success

If you’ve been following our blog for some time, you will probably recall that time a few years ago when we helped float a Sunseeker 116 Yacht off of the Super Servant 4 at Malta Freeport.

The Super Servant 4 is back once more for a similar operation, but this time round the object of its mission was to float in an MCY 96 Flybridge Cruiser and ship it off from Valletta harbour to the Caribbean seas. The cruiser in question is M.Y. Esmeralda of the Seas, which weighs in at 102 tons.

This heavyweight beauty is the result of the fine craftsmanship of Monte Carlo Yachts and she was on her way to her final port of destination in Everglades (Fla.), USA.

Super Servant 4 in Valletta Harbour, Malta
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A Closer Look at the Super Servant 4

For those who aren’t familiar with the vessel, the Super Servant 4 was designed in 1982 and is a semi-submersible heavy load carrier that makes use of a complex ballasting system which allows it to sink partially, load or unload heavy floatable cargo, and re-emerge, before sailing off for long-range navigation. The loading and unloading is known in the industry as floating in/on and floating off respectively.

The types of cargo the SS4 usually carry range from oil rig equipment to smaller vessels like yachts. When carrying yachts, it bounces back and forth along the transatlantic route between the Mediterranean on one end and the Caribbean and the States on the other during different yachting seasons, allowing patrons to enjoy some good-weather seafaring.

These yachts are not customarily equipped to handle such long navigational routes, which would otherwise burden their engines heavily with unfittingly long operational hours. Other factors taken into consideration include expenses forked out for fuel, crew wages, and insurance as well as heightened storm and accident risk factors.

The Super Servant 4 had only recently been serviced, refitted, and given a full tune-up to ensure it was in top-notch shape and in keeping with industry standards.

Prep Work and Operation Day

Prior to commencing the actual operation, we made sure we had all bases covered in terms of permits and paperwork and we did it on the clock. Our package for such tasks includes customs clearance and pratique as well as other prep work such as coordination and arrival of the vessel and arrangement for berthing. We also line up all equipment including tugs and stevedores and enlist the right men for the job. Our team this time round brought together four welders and six divers.

On the day of the operation, the SS4 docked in at Valletta. Before we could even start floating on the Esmeralda, there were other vessels sitting on board the SS4 that needed unlashing. With that part completed, the SS4 began to submerge and take in water. That’s when we proceeded to float the Esmeralda on and into stowing place.

It was then the divers’ turn to intervene. They carefully followed the Esmeralda, setting up stands and lashing in preparation for the de-floating, before making way for the welders. When the welders were up, however, they didn’t have it easy at all since it started raining, adding an extra layer of difficulty to their task at hand. That said, they got the job done without a hitch, and the SS4 loaded with the Esmeralda and the other yachts was good to sail off.

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