Normand Seven Click on thumbnail to enlarge image, view caption and use slideshow options. To return to this page click on the image background This series of photographs records Normand Seven leaving the River Tyne on October 24 2007 following an extensive refit at the Hebburn shipyard of A & P Tyne. The vantage point was by the North Shields Fish Quay, initially looking upriver towards the North Sea Ferry moorings at the Tyne Commission Quay.Normand Seven was designed and built in Norway by Vik-Sandvik AS of Fijar and Ulstein Verft AS at Ulsteinvik. It can lay flexible pipelines on the seabed to a depth of 2,000 metres. Originally commissioned by Solstad Offshore ASA, this new commission was operated by Subsea 7.A boyhood interest in all manner of machines and structures remains with me, although the devotion to model making from that time does not. Apart from recording some of its structural aspects I wanted to use still images to describe the ship sailing gently past. As a consequence, I saw most of it framed by the camera viewfinder.Here, the ship was starting to turn gently to starboard to align itself with the channel between the two piers that protect the river mouth from the North Sea. I liked the sheer bulk of the hull, the way it filled the viewfinder, and the challenge to compose and shoot quickly with a hand-held camera under an overcast sky.The crew gave scale to the ship and emphasised the height of the helicopter deck above the waterline.The pristine, vividly toned and glossy paintwork applied to this complex machine had a strong visual impact. I speculated on the contrast there might be after its first year of working on the open sea and what it might be like to work on board, whether in pipe laying or on the helicopter deck.The bridge is placed well forward, its leading windows shadowed by the helicopter deck.One of the ship’s covered lifeboats fits securely within the steel plating of the hull.The substantial stem of a crane stands against the on-deck cable drums.Angled windows encircle the bridge to ensure full visibility out to sea and inwards on to the onboard working activity.I liked the presence of a lone crewmember, perhaps glancing across to the boats moored at the Fish Quay.This shot shows something of the scale of the pipe drums set on the ship’s centre line.This complex structure in white was added during the refit at the A & P Tyne yard. Then, I photographed its construction in progress from the only close vantage point during one of a series of walks along the south bank of the river.A broader view behind the bridge.The pipeline laying equipment dominates the stern.This composition pulls together several earlier and more tightly framed shots.Normand Seven heads off between the long North and South Shields piers.This is my preferred image from the set. I did work on and liked an alternative black and white collection but the vermilion and ochre against white seemed a necessity. The monochrome versions for this image and for 12 appear as 07 and 08 in the adjacent BOATS AND SHIPS Gallery.