The Midnight Express left Mobile, Alabama, on Friday, October 29, 2004 for the testing site in the Gulf of Mexico at Destin Dome Block 60 in approximately 500 feet of water. The first stage of the sea trials consisted of extensive testing of the DP systems and the electrical switchboards. All necessary requirements were met and the vessel was granted the full class certificates by Lloyd's Shipping on Friday, November 5, 2004.
The second stage of the sea trials was the testing of the vessel's patented pipelay system. Load testing was applied on the vessel's hold off clamp, tensioners, winches, and the reel; all were confirmed positive. To complete the trial phase of the program, a test lay route was provided by the survey and the test pipe was initiated with a clump weight. Approximately 780 meters of 6-inch pipe was laid to the sea floor. The pipeline was retrieved and a secondary route was then laid. At the end of the second layout, the pipe was abandoned on the sea floor and recovered with a winch. The final stage was the complete recovery of the entire pipeline to the reel and the recovery of the clump weight.
Lyle G. Stockstill, Torch Offshore, Inc. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, commented, "The overall performance of the Midnight Express and the patented pipelay equipment was proven to be capable of all of the design considerations. All testing was completed within the time frame allocated and the results were as expected. The vessel and its equipment are considered to be commissioned and ready to join our active fleet."
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