What to expect when working Offshore
Working Hours – Working offshore isn’t the same as your typical 9-5 job. Most jobs offshore are on a rotation basis; you work full time for a certain number of weeks then you have the same amount of time off. In Europe it tends to be 2 weeks on and 2 weeks off (2/2) but some countries may work on a 3/3 or 4/4 rotation length. Outside of Europe it tends to be 6 weeks on, 6 weeks off (6/6). Shifts may be day or night-time, so you’ll have to factor in changing your body clock to suit the role.
Travelling to Work – Plan your travel according to cost. Some destinations can work out to be 2 days travel, depending on where you live. Not all clients will pay a travel rate; some will be pay a percentage of the day rate. It is therefore always worth checking with your agent or client if there is a travel rate and ask them who covers this cost.
In most cases, travel days come out of your days off so it’s worth planning to make the most of your time. Try and find out if you are working nights or days; if you are on the night shift you may be able to travel and start work on the same day. You do however need to ensure you have had rest before you start your shift. For example, if the work is in Holland and you lived 30 mins from an airport in the UK and had a 1-hour flight and a 1 hour journey the other side – this would be acceptable. If you have a long drive however, 5 hours plus, you most likely would not be well rested before your shift and there is a safety aspect to this.
Depending on the nature of work and configuration of a vessel, personnel transfers may take place at sea for example when transferring to an offshore structure as part of the project work scope. Only appropriately trained personnel will be allowed to transfer by boat or helicopter at sea.
Terminology – When living and working offshore on vessels or wind turbines for instance, there will be a lot of new terminology and abbreviations to get your head around. For example:
- Mob – Mobilisation (join the vessel)
- Demob – Demobilisation – (leave the vessel)
- Toolbox – Health & Safety and briefing talk about the shift
- PPE – Personal Protective Equipment
- Bridge – Room or platform on a vessel where the vessel is controlled
- Mess / Mess deck – an area where vessel personnel socialize and eat.
- CTV – Crew Transfer Vessel used to transport personnel to a fixed structure at sea
- SOV – Service Operation Vehicle provides accommodation, workshops and equipment for personnel servicing and maintaining offshore wind turbines
- ROV – Remotely operated vehicle
When starting your career in the offshore sector, you will cover these and many other terms in the training you undergo.
Training – Most offshore jobs will require training to ensure you are equipped with the right skills and knowledge for your chosen role. Basic safety training and first aid training will also be required to ensure you know what to do in case of an emergency. At Offshore Marine People & Academy we offer online and virtual training courses, access to industry recognised GWO (Global Wind Organisation) training and bespoke training where you can build your own training packages.
We support training on topics across the offshore industries, covering everything from introductory levels through to specialised skills and practices.
Our Online Introduction to Offshore Wind Renewables course is the perfect first step to take when entering this market. It provides an introductory overview and a comprehensive awareness of the offshore wind industry.
Living On Board – There are many different types of vessels, some new, some not so new, some large, some not so large. The standard of accommodation will vary. As you start your career offshore be prepared to share cabins. It is not unusual to be in a 2-berth cabin.
Depending on the type of vessel and the nature of work being conducted, operations can be 24 hours a day with four mealtimes a day to cover all shift patterns. There will generally be a mess area for all on board to sit down for a meal. In some cases, the vessel operating crew may have a different mess area to project personnel.
There is a zero tolerance to alcohol and drugs on board, leading to dismissal from a vessel. This will be enforced through random drug and alcohol testing.
It’s a tight knit community offshore. Depending on the type of operations, there could be around 50 persons on board to well over 100. How you conduct yourself with your fellow colleagues goes a long way in helping you enjoy your work offshore. Always treat everyone on board with respect.
There are likely to be many different cultures on board, with vessel operating crew and project personnel coming from different countries and backgrounds.
Most vessels will have recreational areas on board, where TV/film or other IT facilities are available for all personnel. Some vessels may have a dedicated gym with a selection of exercise equipment within. Use the equipment appropriately to avoid personal injury, it’s your own liability should you injure yourself.
Remember to make time for yourself to call your family ashore and keep in touch.
To give you a visual representation of working in the offshore wind industry, take a peek at this video report from BBC News in October 2021 Life at sea by world’s largest offshore wind farm in North Sea – BBC News