Friday, 20 Mar 2009

Report of J.J. de Keizer
Trainee QHSE at Van Oord Offshore Gorinchem
On board the Nordnes. From 12-02 to 20-02-2009.

After finishing my Bachelor Integral Safety & Security Management I joined Van Oord Offshore on January 12th 2009. The traineeship offered, was a great opportunity to gain knowledge and experience with regard to safety issues. My visit to rock dumping vessel Nordnes can be seen as the first step in this process. Besides that it was also my first real encounter with the maritime world.

On February 11th I flew from Amsterdam to Oslo and met an assistant superintendent and a chief engineer also travelling to the Nordnes. From Oslo we took an inland flight to Kristiansund after one hour delay due to a shortage of pilots. Upon arrival the agent transported us to a hotel in the centre of Kristiansund where we spent the night. After some delays we boarded the Nordnes the 12th of February late in the afternoon. It was preparing to load itself at the stone quarry of Averoy although ‘snow quarry’ would be a more appropriate description at that moment.

After a visit to the medic to fill in some forms I met with a few colleagues. The medic told me the way to my cabin, but I couldn’t find it. At first, the ship looked like a maze of corridors and doors, but after a few days I got to know my way around. The thing that stands out to me the most is the confrontation with safety information all around the accommodation. You simply can’t get around it, which is a good thing.

Next stop was the galley for a dinner. It needs to be said that the food and drinks on board were great and beyond my expectations. After dinner a short visit to the bridge where I had an impressive sight over the vessel and I could see how the cargo rooms were being loaded with rock. The bridge itself was also impressive: numerous electrical devices with numerous buttons, switches and screens with complicated looking data on them.

Next day there was a brief safety induction for new people on board. In the afternoon we left Averoy and set sail to our first destination. Shortly after leaving I get a tour of the ship. Before we go I have to equip my personal protective equipment (PPE) which is mandatory if you want to go on deck and visit other areas of the vessel outside the accommodation. We make our way to the loophouse, the tunnel, the workshops below the tower and finally the moonpool where the ROV is located. Near the end of the tour seasickness suddenly strikes which means elimination for the rest of the day.

Next day, luckily for me, we arrive at the first project location. The vessel is kept in place by the Dynamic Positioning System (DP). The wobbling of the ship is reduced to a minimum which is good for getting rid of seasickness. I instantly go on a tour with the Chief Deck Engineer to get an explanation on the flexible fallpipe system which this ship is known for. We take a look at the vlutters (buckets from the fallpipe), the conveyor belt which moves the rock from the cargo room to the fallpipe and finally the ROV. What an amazing system.

On the bridge I meet the Chief Officer who invites me for the monthly safety meeting later this afternoon. According to Dutch law vessel superiors are prohibited from attending this safety meeting. Their appearance could have a negative effect on the openness of employees during this meeting. As a result the safety meeting is attended by employees from many different disciplines.

Next day I arranged with the Chief Officer for an inspection of one of the voids in the tunnel. Because it is a confined space it has more and greater risks involved when work needs to be done. The inspection will be carried out tomorrow with the Chief Engineer.

Later on the Chief Deck Engineer took me to the engine control room to look for a tour guide. The control room is pretty amazing with its huge electrical equipment that monitors and controls the critical processes of the vessel. In the engine room we passed the room with main engine and the four E-motors which drive the (azimuth) thrusters. The azimuth side thrusters are 360 degrees rotatable and make it possible to use the DP system. The noise of the engines was deafening even when wearing ear protection.

In the afternoon I studied some near misses from the archive. Near misses are undesired events which, under slightly different circumstances, could have let to an accident or incident. I visited the places where these events took place (like the tower) with the Chief Deck Engineer to get an indication of what happened.

In the evening I got an explanation of the piloting of the ROV, the steering of the rock dumping and sonar devices to get visuals from the bottom of the sea. From one screen I could actually see the stones falling at a depth of +100 meters. Not in real time but visual data provided by the sonar made the stones visible. What an amazing technology. All around us in the distance are oil and gas drilling platforms which make up for a beautiful sight. They look like cities on the water with their uncountable number of lights.

The next couple of days we make short stops on different locations which means a lot of sailing. Seasickness strikes again and I have to cancel my visit to one of the voids in the tunnel. In these days the sickness gets the better of me and regrettably I’m in no state of action. Little by little I start to get more used to the currents of the sea however.

On the 20th of February I wake up to find out that we have gone ashore near the stone quarry of Slovagh. My journey with the Nordnes has come to an end. I leave the vessel at 8:30 in the morning after saying goodbye.

Although the seasickness got the better of me I’m a little bit sad to leave. I was just starting to feel at home and getting used to the currents of the sea. The crew was great and did their best to make me feel at home as quickly as possible. Special thanks to the colleagues for explanations and showing me around. All in all this trip with the Nordnes was a great learning and experience trip for me.

Hopefully I will return here for a future visit.


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