A day in the life of a OneStep Power employee offshore
Updated: Aug 11, 2022
By A. Midkiff
After 12 hours of flying and the general confusion that comes with navigating an airport in a country that doesn’t speak the same language as you, I was driven to a small port town.
At the port I boarded an offshore support vessel (OSV) and after a 2 hour boat ride I was lifted from the deck in a rope basket and placed aboard the vessel I was set to work on.
For a night owl and heavy sleeper like myself, one of the most important items to take offshore is a powerful alarm clock. One must be present and ready to go at the start of shift. I rarely have breakfast so I started my day with a surprisingly nice cup of espresso produced by a coffee/espresso machine one would normally see in a hip shop. Taking into account that most of the crew on this ship serve 6 month rotations, I guess the little comforts are a must to make the time out here bearable.
The morning coordination meeting then lay out the work plan and goals for the day.
It is imperative that the day’s plan be discussed before work begins. This allows for everyone to be aware of what general area will be occupied throughout the day (for testing and operations) and allows for the proper planning of any safety measures required.
The safety meeting then looks at the Job Hazard Analysis (JHA) and what permits to work are required. Scanning the planned work areas, cross referenced with the tasks to be performed, we can then lay out a plan to eliminate or mitigate any potential safety hazards. Once the associated paperwork is squared away, testing can begin.
It’s always important to prepare for testing by checking the equipment for basic functionality before any connections or tests are made. I then make one final review of the technical diagrams and Offshore Test Plan (OTP) with the relevant ship’s crew to double check the finer details of the task and testing to be carried out.
The test schedule for the vessel I’m on looks something like this:
• Lock out / tag out - When working on electrical equipment it is imperative that it be turned off in a way that it cannot inadvertently be turned back this process called lock out / tag out. This keeps everyone safe. Safety is incredibly important and is one of the main time consumers of day to day life offshore.
• Connections and crosschecks - a connection is when I go into a cabinet and wire up our DCShortCut (DCS) or HCShortCut (HCS). The cross check verifies that the wiring has been done correctly.
• Reenergize - this refers back to Lock out tag out procedure, where the Electro - Technical Officer (ETO) removes the locks and or tags and turns the equipment back on.
• Testing - the testing sequences involves issuing commands to the tech, DCS & HCS and taking notes of the equipments behavior.
• Answering and clarifying any technical questions that the crew have.
• Analyze data as it is produced for discrepancies in real-time. The ETO was also able to look at data / graphs in real time gaining a better understanding of their equipment.
• Monitor the ship's status - during testing we need to keep track of what the dynamic positioning system is doing as it’s imperative that the dynamic positioning is online while testing. Coordinate with the engineering crew and bridge. Challenges occurred when communication was lacking.
• If / when findings did arise, coordinate with OSP home base, the ship’s crew and vessel management to rectify findings in real time. We always state the cause of the finding and offer our recommendation on how to proceed.
• Rinse and repeat
At the end of my 12 hour shift I was able to enjoy surprisingly nice recreation facilities. The ship I was on included a recreation room and a small gymnasium. The recreation room was outfitted like a home theater. Including large couches and a selection of gaming consoles and even a karaoke machine. One of the more interesting items was a pool table custom built by the crew. Because the ship rolling in the waves would cause ordinary billiard balls to roll around the table, the crew built a wooden pool table with a polished surface and acrylic discs to replace the billiard balls. It was certainly one of the more popular entertainment pieces.
One thing that the crew and I had to contend with was unreliable internet access which was somewhat trying.
Sleeping offshore is also interesting, often being kept awake from the ship rocking in the waves, instead of being rocked to sleep. When a tanker is full the mass is sufficient enough to mitigate most wave impacts. However, when it is empty the movement of the ship from the waves can become much more pronounced. While the crew is used to it, for me it meant a rough time falling asleep and staying asleep.
I’ve learnt that for my next mobilization I’ll be making sure to pack more offline recreation activities.