Last August, Charles-Henri Thelot, chief officer with BOURBON since 2014, took command of a Bourbon Explorer 500. The portrait of a rigorous and committed seafarer.
OFFshore: What was your experience before arriving at BOURBON and what did it bring you?
Charles-Henri Thelot: I come from the oil sector, where I only transported refined products. I started with Brostrom, which was later bought out by Maersk Tanker. That trained me both for rigor in sailing and for safety and work on deck. BOURBON has never ceased to improve safety on board, and since I arrived in the company I have supported these changes with the integrity that I have learned through vettings1.
OFFshore: What do you most enjoy about your profession?
C-H T.: With no hesitation, it is managing men! At sea we have to live together and create an osmosis within the team, even though we come from different cultures. If that osmosis is lacking, we can't establish meaningful communication among the crew and it is one of the reasons why incidents sometimes happen. The role of the chief officer, supported by the captain, is precisely to create this "group effect".
OFFshore: What are you particularly proud of?
C-H T.: I was posted to Cabinda in Angola for a year and a half as Offshore HSE coordinator. I worked with the crews of Surfers, with whom we carried out a campaign to improve safety on board. One of my main missions was to improve the management of the ship's logs and the application of safety procedures. I was also able to act as a link between the seafarers and the shore to promote greater communication and also to demonstrate to the seafarers how much BOURBON depends on them. The mission was not always easy, but most of the feedback was very positive. It was very rewarding for me.
OFFshore: Now you are the master of a Bourbon Explorer...
C-H T.: I had been waiting for it for a long time! There was of course a certain element of stress, but positive stress. For me, the captain is responsible for his vessel, and the chief officer is responsible for its operation. Each must know the limits of his job. I am very happy in this new position. I would eventually like to command MPSVs, because the profession is more technical and you work directly with the client on board: I have already spent two years on that type of vessel. But if I came to BOURBON, it is also for the maneuvers, as each approach to an installation is different. It is one of the few companies to offer so many opportunities in this profession that I like so much.
1 Unannounced inspections carried out by charterers on board vessels