Weather across UK over the last few weeks have been very unpredictable with storm force winds then a calm day or two only for another storm to pass. The latest was storm Gareth, winds picked up to over 70mph in East Anglia causing the Orwell bridge to be shut for several hours which bought Ipswich to a standstill. Light draughted Madison Maersk alongside Felixstowe Berth 9 begins to prepare for departure. A Harwich Haven pilot launch goes across from Harwich to the tug pontoon at Felixstowe with a pilot for the Madison Maersk. The last crane boomed up and the pilot requests the three Svitzer tugs that were ordered and the mooring gang. Harwich VTS gives an update on the wind on the Landguard which was steadily increasing to 28 knots. On Felixstowe's Ro-Ro4 berth, the DFDS ferry Suecia Seaways, which was behind schedule, loaded the last trailers onboard before closing up. With the wind as it was, the captain had ordered one Svitzer tug to assist with the departure. Svitzer Sky had the job for today to assist. The captain requested that the Sky to make fast centre lead forward for a simple pull off then gently swing the bow to port to head out of the harbour.
Svitzer Kent was the first to leave the pontoon followed by the Svitzer Deben and Svitzer Shotley. Deben makes fast centre lead aft as the Shotley gets in position on the starboard quarter to receive a heaving line to make fast. Further up the ship on the bow, the Kent watched the offshore lines being bought back onboard very slowly. Wondering if they were heaving them up without a winch, Kent radios the pilot to find out what was going on. The pilot said they were using a winch but it was very slow. Finally a crew member on the bow waves in the Kent so they could make fast. A heaving line was thrown down. All tugs fast, they back away ready for the pull off. The last lines were slackened and bought back onboard. The pilot starts to increase the centre lead tugs to 50% then gets the Shotley to increase to 50%. After a few moments , the Kent forward increases to full power with the Deben and Shotley shortly after. Steadily she comes away from the berth, trickling astern as she goes. The Kent eases while the Deben and Shotley still pull at full power, carefully backing her into the tide. The stern in the channel, Kent increases power to start swing the bow. The power of the Kent's mighty engine swings the bow quite quickly, the pilot asks the Deben to check on the stern to catch the swing. Running the engine ahead, Shotley gets in a position to let go from the starboard quarter. Once released, they move around onto the port quarter. Kent eases and let’s go from forward. With the wind fresh, the pilot required the Deben and Shotley to help steer around the 90° Beach End turn out of the harbour. Deben moves out on to the starboard quarter at full line load for a powered indirect while the Shotley pushes up on the most aft tug point on the port quarter. Safely around the Beach End, Shotley was stood down and Deben closes up to the transom to receive their gear before both of them head back to the pontoon to wait for the next job which was the Mette Maersk which was boarding a pilot at the Sunk Diamond inbound for Felixstowe Berth 9.