A Crew boat referent pilot for 5 years, Philippe Pendu is the link between seagoing and shore-based personnel. Trainer, attentive ear, and demanding, he is the one who evaluates crews and helps maintain a strict level of competence. A portrait.
After over 20 years deep sea fishing, then in coastal fishing, Philippe Pendu joined BOURBON in 2007 as a Surfer pilot. He knows all the ropes of the job, since he used to do it himself, and thus he can help seafarers benefit from his expertise. As part of his new job, he is currently criss-crossing West Africa. "My role is to improve their competence, evaluate seafarers, and be receptive to them: I pass along their comments regarding outfitting, I serve as a link and I provide solutions for ever improving the quality of the service we provide to our clients," he explains. Raising awareness about regulations is one of the most important parts of the job, just like training new pilots. Indeed, it's not the brevet that makes the captain! And training courses can be far from identical, depending on the country where they are given.
My role is to improve their competence, evaluate seafarers, and be receptive to them. [...] I serve as a link and I provide solutions for ever improving the quality of the service we provide to our clients.
Seafarers have understood this and accepted his role as "big brother." "Now, I am requested on-board, when people want to be evaluated in order to be able to move up. Additionally, I provide tools and the resources to use them, procedures that must be applied systematically and which make work on board easier in order to maintain the quality of the service provided." With time, he has seen that the number of accidents have clearly decreased, that the safety culture has become really ever-present on board. The fact of having done in-depth work to understand and apply safety instructions has borne fruit. But Philippe Pendu does not stop there: he's receptive to seafarers, and he asks for their feedback regarding working and lodging conditions at oil & gas sites, informs them of regulatory changes and talks with them about their career development, and even about their future retirement! On the coast of West Africa, there are just ten referent pilots.
The most important thing, in his opinion, is to give seafarers the skills and involve them as much as possible. "The desire has to come from them ," he stresses. "I also must take into account the specifics of the various nationalities and make sure that my message gets through." But Philippe Pendu is certain of one thing: being a referent pilot is a job that must be sustained. Indeed, the referent pilot ensures the ongoing improvement of the quality of crews and, in the end, of operational excellence.