24th May 2018

Shearwater UK Sale’s Team Visit the Duchess 

We recently had the privilege and excitement of visiting the Polar Duchess while she was alongside in Rotterdam mobilising for Shearwater’s recently awarded 4D surveys. As part of the team who put together the winning tender, it was a useful way of concluding the project handover from Sales to Operations and a chance to see what happens at a project start-up.

Before seeing the vessel, the morning was dedicated to an HSE workshop, where all personnel were gathered to be briefed on the upcoming survey and was a chance for us to meet the client’s survey team and the dynamic crew of the Polar Duchess. Instead of a PowerPoint monologue, we were treated to a wholly interactive experience – a far more engaging and stimulating way of getting the Goal Zero message across and getting people to think differently. It was clear that our HSE objectives and guidelines are in line with the client’s.  We formed part of the team who had to facilitate discussion at each table when presented with different questions. There were 9 goups consisting of personnel from all three vessels assigned to the survey, and supporting onshore staff from respective operating companies. It was a good opportunity to meet and talk to the people who manage risk at our offshore worksites,  and listen to the challenges they experience on a day to day basis, something we had not appreciated before now being office-based and not working offshore.

Another session was conducted as a live online quiz where the audience used their mobile devices to answer questions, one of which sought attendees’ nationalities – the result was impressive with umpteen countries represented, showing the diversity of the crews working on the project. The event was very inclusive, giving us a chance to contribute our own ideas to the dialogue. The final session was a re-enactment of “Shaun’s Story”, a hard-hitting and  realistic account of an example offshore incident, where the audience could intervene at points where they felt the final outcome could be avoided by utilising HSE Life Saving Rules. The effect on the audience was profound and sobering, but had the desired outcome by getting the message across.

After lunch we headed for the Duchess and we were extremely lucky with the blazing sunshine and temperature of 23°C, which only added to the anticipation. On arrival at the Port, what initially struck us was the enormity of everything, not just the equipment visible from the road, but the port itself. There are literally thousands of gigantic boats, cranes, shipping containers across approximately 126km2 – you can see why the port of Rotterdam is the largest in Europe. Once through port security, the Sanco Sky (support vessel) came into view, she was being refuelled. Then, the moment we had been waiting for finally arrived and we got our first look at the Duchess.  There was a hive of activity on the quayside because all the equipment was being transported on to the boat by fork lift and the boat crane. Tank cleaning was also taking place, but she looked splendid.

On embarkation we met Marek, the Chief Officer, who gave us the all-important safety briefing and protection clothing (PPE). We then got to sit in the Captain’s and first officer’s chairs. Thankfully everything was turned off so we could touch the “steering wheel” – unbelievably small in our view especially when you consider the size of the vessel it is steering! The view from the bridge was stunning, made all the better by the sun glinting off the sea.  After a tasty dinner in the mess, we met Party Manager John Bell, who gave us a tour of the entire vessel. We were completely gobsmacked by the size of the streamers, floats, birds, guns and all the other equipment. It is easy to see why our industry is governed by such tight safety rules when you see the sheer scale of the equipment and how difficult it is to handle safely, especially in heavy sea conditions. It was an eye opener.

With the vessel being rigged for a 4D survey with undershoot there are certainly some challenges ahead for the crews on board. But after seeing the careful planning and attention that is given to safety on board, we have no doubt the survey will be a complete success.  

We came away feeling very proud to be part of the Shearwater team and enthused to continue to win work for our vessels and crews.

By Maria Harrington (Sales Supervisor) & Simon Casey (Marine Sales Manager)