A vessel is a particular place, where seafarers of various nationalities and cultures coexist for weeks, working various jobs and routes, all driven by the same passion: the sea. The master, AB, chief engineer, bosun, etc. thus form a small community in which strong bonds of respect and solidarity are forged. A few seafarers have agreed to share with us one of their memorable events experienced on board.
"I have one particularly vivid memory of an operation conducted in 2014 aboard the Bourbon Evolution 803. We had been operating for nearly three weeks in New Caledonia. Until now, I had only sailed to West Africa, so this mission was out of the ordinary. I found it interesting to see that the group was expanding its range of action to other regions. The operation itself consisted of working at a depth of 40 meters to repair an industrial wastewater discharge pipe that had given way, in the middle of a UNESCO site. So we had a dozen divers on board, who were in charge of making the repair. For the crew, the operation was exciting. We were extremely motivated by the newness of the mission, and the atmosphere was very convivial aboard the vessel. The experience was conclusive, we met the expectations of the client, Vale NC, which was calling upon BOURBON for the very first time. I will long remember this mission, which was not at all like the others..."
Ludovic Le Corre, chief engineer aboard the Bourbon Evolution 803
"After 7 years' experience with BOURBON, the memories come flooding back. I remember one period in particular, when I was working in Nigeria on ROV operations, under contract with Total, from 2010 to 2013. I was aboard the Bourbon Horus, and we were working as a team with two other vessels: the Bourbon Trieste and the Bourbon Evolution 802. When we arrived at the USAN field (now one of the largest in Nigeria), there was just one well. When we left 3 years later, there were 45 of them. It was extremely gratifying to see the work we did over those 3 years, and I draw a certain pride from it, especially since it was the first time I worked on this type of operation.
I particularly remember one jumper positioning operation, conducted jointly with the Bourbon Trieste. While we kept the barge in place in DP mode, they deployed the jumper. It wasn't easy, but thanks to our good cooperation, everything went well. I also got a chance to discover how fascinating it is to observe undersea life through the images provided by the ROVs. I can still remember the excitement I felt when I saw whales for the first time. It's a magnificent animal, and the image of it will remain engraved on my memory forever!
Over those three years of the contract, we did not get much rest, but when we got a chance, I liked to have a good time with the other crew members. There were 33 of us on board, including 7 ROV operators. We talked about our lives, we compared our experiences. The diversity on board (Poles, Montenegrins, Croatians, and Nigerians) guaranteed a convivial experience!"
Alan Orlandini, Captain of the Bourbon Horus
"I remember a pipeline laying mission in Malaysia, with our client, Petronas. There were 6 of us crew members, so there were only 3 on deck at a time. When I was on deck, I was responsible for safety, keeping in mind that I could rely on my mate and the engineer, thanks to an omnipresent mutual assistance. Each day, I did a 6 hour watch, then the captain took over for the next 6 hours. So the operation lasted 7 weeks. The crew's experience and professionalism made this operation a real pleasure. It required a great deal of precision and caution, particularly when swells arose or when the weather changed abruptly. For example, in this type of operation, when raising cables on the deck, their tension is enormous.
Thus, each person on board needs to work for the safety of everyone. I had already gotten a chance to take part in this type of operations before, but this one was special for me. In fact, for the first time I had the feeling that the vessel and I were only one. I could feel her movements on the ocean and I could feel the current. I knew what to do, and when to do it. Maneuvering the vessel had become a real pleasure. Despite the difficulty of the operation, I was totally at ease aboard the vessel, as if we were connected to each other. I felt full of life and ready to act. Now, during some Safety Meetings, I bring up this subject in order to show the crew members how important it is to understand your vessel and be one with her. This helps to maneuver her as delicately as possible, by trying to find the best position, thus making the operation easier for the crew. Each day on board is a new experience, with new things to discover."
Sergei Kovalev, Chief Officer aboard the Bourbon Liberty 153
"In fact, for the first time I had the feeling that the vessel and I were only one. I could feel her movements on the ocean and I could feel the current. I knew what to do, and when to do it."Sergei KovalevChief Officer aboard the bourbon liberty 153
"We had just spent 3 weeks in dry dock in Abidjan and we were ready to leave on operation the following day. That was in 2011 aboard the Bourbon Trieste. Each person did their best during the inspection of the vessel, which was fully operational to head to Nigeria, the location of the next subsea operation for the Akpo phase 2 project. Subsea operations are among the most demanding in the offshore industry. In fact, in this case, we had to install valves and other subsea equipment at a depth of more than 1,300 m. Everything that we installed was unique, specially built for this project. Our MPSV played the role of a remote control for installing this equipment, and when we used the ROV, we felt like we were watching Discovery Channel. It was dreamlike: we could observe the undersea life at a depth of over a thousand meters, and thus see the life in extreme depth. It was a rare show that must be enjoyed, because not everybody gets that chance."
Valter Skrokov, Chief Officer aboard the Bourbon Evolution 806
"In 2013, we were contacted by Esso to work off the coast of Angola. We had to secure a Single Hybrid Riser – SHR – used to bring the gas produced by the platforms to the coast. Over 900 m long, this SHR rises to the surface hanging from an enormous chain which is attached to a buoy, submerged at a depth of a hundred meters. Since the chain had become fragile, there was a great risk that it might break, causing harm for the equipment but also the environment. So we worked for over two years on a lasting solution. It's a project I won't soon forget, due to its technical complexity, but also for what I took away from it in professional terms. Of course, we learn from all our experiences, especially in Subsea engineering. But this is even truer for this project, which gave me a more complete view of my job. Once the tests on shore were performed with Exxon, in Texas, we boarded the MPSV Bourbon Vissolela in July 2015 to position the system we had developed, namely two 8 ton, 20 m long hydraulic tendons. Most of the items used in this installation were created from scratch. It was a very gratifying operation, because we controlled it perfectly from start to finish. Everything went perfectly, the client expressed its satisfaction and I am very happy to have been a participant in this very enriching project for nearly two years."
Paul-Gaspard de Bovis, Subsea Engineer
"It's now been a year since I have been on board the Bourbon Evolution 805. The atmosphere aboard is friendly, I feel very good there, like at home. I chose to be a seafarer for the pleasure of working at sea, aboard a vessel. In this job, it is very important to be attentive and focused during an operation, particularly when positioning a jumper, for example. At the slightest incident, I have to be on the alert. That's why the instructions given by the deck officer during the preparatory meeting in the presence of the whole team of officers, the captain, and Total personnel must be understood, and above all, respected. At the end of an operation, after the debriefing, the crew members meet for a discussion, and these are the moments that count. One time onboard, I was surprised to find a colleague who I had worked with on the Bourbon Jade, another IMR. We had gotten along well, and seeing each other brought back old memories. It's a bit like sharing family times. The atmosphere on board is great! Something always happens during the day, between operations, meetings, etc. Last month, I reported an anomaly on board by filling out a B-Safe Card, like it was recommended that we do. It was collected by Total, who congratulated me for the initiative. I took that as an encouragement to stay vigilant about safety, and be attentive to my surroundings. It's the basis of my job."
Eduardo Videira Pedro, AB aboard the Bourbon Evolution 805