Life as an Offshore ROV Supervisor
An ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle) Supervisor is the person who oversees the operation and maintenance of the ROV system and its crew. They are responsible for planning, organising, and executing the ROV missions, ensuring that the ROV meets the client’s specifications and objectives, and complying with the safety and quality standards. The ROV Supervisor also liaises with the vessel master, the project manager, the client representative, and other stakeholders involved in the offshore operation.
We spoke with Stefan Dobrica, who has been an ROV Supervisor for 3 years, to learn more about the role:
How did you first get into this field of work?
I started work in the offshore industry in 2011 working for a diving company in Romania – my brother was a diver at that time and he was the one who introduced me to the offshore world. In 2021 I got my ROV Supervisor competency.
What roles and responsibilities do you have in this position?
As an ROV Supervisor, you are responsible for supervising the operation of the ROV system and to make sure the specific task defined in the work scope is carried out without “cutting corners”. You are also responsible for the maintenance of the ROV and more importantly for the safety of personnel directly involved in the ROV operation.
Are there any general misconceptions on what your role entails?
The role of an ROV Supervisor can occasionally be a bit “strange”, depending on the nature of the job. For example, certain clients can be a bit “pushy” requiring the supervisor to justify decisions such as halting operations due to poor weather conditions, even when these conditions are within acceptable limits, you simply do not want to take the risk.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Any shift should start with a coffee or a good tea 🙂 After that, it is the Toolbox Talk, where safety procedures, hazards, and precautions are discussed before starting the shift. These talks are often focused on specific topics relevant to the tasks being performed and are usually completed right after the shift handover.
Sometimes the ROV is in the water when I take over, so we discuss what to do, where to go, how the ROV tether is paid out (especially if we are around a structure).
If the ROV is on deck, we prepare the pre-dives (check all connections, all hoses, test all the equipment fitted on the ROV) and complete all the work permits. Work permits sometimes take longer on Jackets and Jack-ups than on standard vessels, which allows more time for all the usual checks. If we have to perform a pipeline inspection, multi-beam, TSS etc after the ROV is in position, we have to check with the survey team for the ROV positioning to be as accurate as possible and synchronize our movement with the ships movement.
Communication is the key for a well-executed job!
What do you enjoy most about the role?
Aside from the financial part 🙂 , you get to meet new people, you get to travel the world, and there is the underwater life, which having been a diver, is something very special to me. My favourite jobs are those working with divers. It’s great to see how humans get along with ROV’s.
What are some common challenges you may face in the role?
The most common challenge, in my opinion is weather. You have to be prepared to work under rain, snow, wind, and in cold and hot conditions not to mention in large waves!
What has been one of the most memorable moments for you working as an ROV Supervisor?
Aside from working with divers my most memorable moments are when I work on wrecks. Finding and exploring wrecks are most exciting!
Has your role changed in any way over the years you’ve been working?
In my opinion, the role itself hasn’t changed, the Supervisors priority should always be safety of personnel and the company equipment.
What advice would you give to someone hoping to pursue this role?
As an ROV pilot, just listen to the supervisor and your teammates and remember safety comes first. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and don’t pretend to know everything. Keep calm.
Lastly, invest as much as you can into you: training courses and professional development.
What qualifications and documents are required for this role?
Normally qualifications in electronics, mechanics or hydraulics are needed. An offshore medical (OGUK) is a must as well as offshore survival training (BOSIET). Also, a Seaman’s Book (a full record of a seaman’s career experience and certifications) is needed for most jobs.
If you’re interested in ROV Pilot or Supervisor roles, Offshore Marine People & Academy frequently recruit for these positions so keep an eye on the Current Vacancies page for postings.