Friday 25th June 2021
Working in the offshore energy industry, our vital work would not be possible without our dedicated seafarers. In recognition of Day of the Seafarer, we spoke to two of our seafarers about their experience working at sea.
I’ve worked at Global Offshore as an Offshore Manager since 2017, but my offshore career started some twenty years earlier, in 1997, meaning I’ve worked at sea for almost 25 years now.
My typical hours are 7am until 10pm most days, seven days a week, and sometimes I’m up during the night for important operations or when required. Generally that’s if something isn’t going too well! It might sound like extremely long hours, but we’re living offshore for weeks or months at a time, and so while it’s not the right fit for everyone, it’s a way of life I’m very accustomed to.
As an Offshore Manager, I’m responsible for the safe execution of the project, meeting client requirements, making sure all personnel are working safely and efficiently, reporting to the shoreside teams with progress updates, generating daily reports, reviewing procedures, sharing improvements and managing logistics.
When offshore I have my own cabin and ensuite facilities, so it is luxurious compared to where I’ve spent half my life at sea. Onboard the vessel I’m living alongside my work colleagues, contractors, vessel marine crew and client reps 24/7. There are currently 60 of us onboard but it can be up to 85-90 at times, and despite the number of people you’re living with, we all get along. By the end of a very long trip we do look forward to home!
So why did I get into the offshore industry? Well, I had a choice of being a land surveyor or an offshore surveyor and offshore surveying simply paid more money. My plan was to just do a few years and travel a bit and pay debts off, but here I am 25 years later – still at sea. I actually became a teacher for a short while but I missed being at sea believe it or not.
A job like mine really does have its benefits, I’m able to see new places, meet new people and I get a good amount of time off. I’ve also realised I’m not well suited to office work ashore. In fact I’m not well suited to working ashore at all. Too many distractions that are far more fun when I get ashore. I’m a bit like Worzel Gummidge (I have an offshore head and an onshore head). Most of you reading this might be too young to know who Worzel Gummidge is.
To someone looking to work in the industry, I would tell them it’s a very good industry to get in to. You learn a lot in a short space of time and have to learn quickly, so it’s very important to take in as much as you can. Equally as important is to have the right senior personnel teaching you good habits and practices. I’d also tell them to try and get the work life balance correct if you can.
Ultimately, the offshore industry needs new personnel coming through, be that in renewables, telecoms, oil and gas or other markets. That’s why it is so important for companies to invest in training new talent for a career offshore.
I joined the marine industry in 1992 after eight years in the Royal Air Force. At the time, I joined the marine industry because technical jobs in the North East of Scotland were few and far between and working offshore offered me a wealth of opportunities. It’s been almost thirty years and I’m still in the industry, now a Senior ROV Supervisor for Global Offshore, where I’ve worked for over three years.
I work around 12 hours per day, in trip lengths of anywhere from four to 12 weeks at a time. No two days are the same, and similarly, due to the work we do, many of the people I work with can change from trip to trip too.
Aboard one of our cable ships, I am responsible for two work class ROV systems, ensuring the operations and maintenance work is carried out efficiently and safely. Being a technical person, my skills also come in handy when it comes to helping out with IT queries, the vessel’s CCTV system, telephone system, crew internet, and even assisting with VSAT comms.
As we live on board the vessel for weeks at a time, I’m glad I have my own cabin with a porthole. The job wouldn’t suit everyone, as you can be offshore for very long periods of time, but there are a real range of career opportunities available to those who gain their qualifications to work offshore.