There’s a constant stream of incidents involving 3rd party contractors during seismic operations, which put lives at risk and damage careers, on these vessels.
Whilst the introduction of additional control measures and supervision is of some benefit, in many cases application of the controls already in place should have been. Nothing helps if these basics are not implemented. From recent personal experience the potential for an incident could have been avoided through simple adherence to basic procedures …
Prior to starting a contract on a supply vessel I’d been advised by two of my colleagues to be wary of working with a particular Bosun. He reputedly “had no regard for life or limb” when it came to small boat operations and the use of the davit for personnel transfers. This vessel had been under contract for a couple of years with the same crew and I was concerned there may be an issue with safety. I was going to be working with a brand new workboat, new crew and suspect davit operator.
On arrival I had a talk with the Bosun as to how comfortable he was with launching and retrieving boats and he told me he’d received no training in the use of the davit .Up to this point the supply vessel had only been retrieving and launching workboats to embarkation level and not fully into the davit cradle. This was the first time they had a workboat stationed on board and as such the Bosun was nervous about working with it. Over the next 2 days I conducted training with him and the crew on procedures for launch and retrieval whilst underway. My priority was the correct use of the tension release on retrieval to save the boat and crew being bashed about. He quickly developed confidence with launching and retrieval without crew on board and soon we were ready to put ourselves in his hands. During multiple launches over the next 5 weeks there were no issues with safety of the boat or crew
The company that contracted the supply vessel should have ensured that training was provided on start up and at any time a new Bosun arrived on board. At the time concerns were raised about the davit operators skill it would have been reasonable to conduct some training as well as at the time the new workboat was placed on board the vessel.
There continues to be fatalities and injuries with small boat operations. Ensuring that the Bosun gets sufficient training in high risk operations like launch and retrieval should never be overlooked.