August 25, 2015

At the heart of operational issues, Referent Pilots and Masters share their great experience and know–how, travelling a great deal on board BOURBON’s vessels. They represent a genuine link between offshore and onshore personnel, that is to say between boards and Crewing Departments worldwide.

Referent pilots and masters are experts designated by BOURBON to both spread the group’s operational standards, and evaluate their coworkers’ competency, whether counterparts or crews. Therefore, they are in charge of identifying the training required to enable employees to evolve. Furthermore, they implement the developments necessary to continually improving the quality of services delivered.

Joint interview with captain Sultan Sultan, referent Surfer pilot and captain Valter Tijan, referent supply master 

OFFshore: How does one become a Referent Pilot/Master?

Sultan Sultan: I joined BOURBON as a Surfer pilot in 2008. I really enjoyed working with vessels from BOURBON’s crew boats fleet. Especially the ones equipped with water jet propulsion system which I think is unique! That is the reason why I further learned the technique of maneuvering with the water jet system and expressed to the company that l was willing to evolve in my position as a pilot. BOURBON gave me the opportunity to attend training dedicated to Surfers, then awarded me with the responsibility of being a referent pilot.

Valter Tijan: I volunteered for the job because I was willing to help. I am approaching the ten-year mark in my career with BOURBON and I have witnessed practically all the changes the company has gone through. The last three years or so have brought great changes that included the recruitment of many new seafarers. This growth involves assisting newcomers to comply with BOURBON requirements. This is a key mission, so that the company remains a world leader in a very demanding offshore market.

OFFshore: What is your scope of work?

S.S.: Being a referent pilot first of all means sharing with crews all best practices as well as the company’s vision and mission. Since the goal is to improve crew know-how and to add to one of the company’s four strategic pillars: ”competency”. For this, I have onshore and offshore missions:

  • teaching and train crews in class rooms and on simulators,
  • explaining and following the company’s guidelines and training programs on boards and in BOURBON Training Centers,
  • refreshing these programs with the evolution of the fleet and market requirements,
  • training of existing crews and newcomers onboard on daily operational life.

V.T.: Although we do perform audits and inspections every time we visit a vessel, it does not all revolve around these tasks. One of the major requirements of the Referent Master job is to be a constant link between the people at sea and the people in the office. The aim is to give assistance to both, and to share all the good and the bad news. To do this, I have to be 100% straightforward, to take constructive decisions.

OFFshore: Do you support also the other pilots in their job?

S.S.: The most experienced pilots are ambassadors of BOURBON.  Of course their operational knowledge is significant, but it is always good to keep repeating safety and service oriented messages. Then, I am also in charge of the onboard training of my Pilot colleagues, especially on 2 main themes:

" To give assistance to both offshore and onshore personnel, one has to be 100% straightforward, to take constructive decisions."
Valter TijanReferent Supply Master 

OFFshore: What do you find especially interesting in this position? Any events in your career you would highlight?

S.S.: I wrote several booklets dedicated to Surfer crews in order to facilitate learning.  I am happy to share my experience and knowledge with trainees.

The most grateful memory I have, as a referent pilot, is getting the opportunity to train many women to become Surfer pilots, which is not common!

V.T.: I must say that I have learned a lot since taking this job. I get the opportunity and honor to meet many new people, aboard vessels and while visiting and working with BOURBON affiliates.

I have one memorable story to share. I was joining a vessel in Ivory Coast when I was asked if I would be comfortable to temporarily replace the 2nd Mate. The master of the vessel was a very experienced seaman; still he was rather new within BOURBON. So I was acting 2nd mate, assisting/helping the Master with the company requirements and structure, and at the same time, completing the audits and inspections. It was rather….complex and very challenging!

Bourbon behind the scenes