Second engineer Sven Buelens has sailed with BOURBON for a little over 10 years. In September 2017, he was offered a one-year onshore mission with the organization responsible for studying and defining the company’s vessel maintenance strategy.
Sven Buelens, 30, was born into a family of sailors. “My mother was a radio officer and my father was a chief engineer, so you could say that I followed their example, even if the profession has changed a lot since then,” he told us.
Following in his father’s footsteps, Sven became an engineering officer. He joined BOURBON as a trainee officer in 2007 after finishing his monovalent engine course at Ecole Nationale Supérieure Maritime in Nantes (France).
During his various missions, he has worked on different types of vessels for the company, from terminal tugs to MPSVs, not to mention AHTSs and PSVs. "The role of an engineering officer is above all to make sure that the vessel is operating correctly". It consists of executing a maintenance plan that is today defined on shore. “My role on board is to carry out maintenance decided on shore but with the means we have on board. As for the expertise required of a chief engineer today, it mostly comes into effect when preventive maintenance fails, i.e. when things break down,” he explains.
My role on board is to carry out maintenance decided on shore but with the means we have on board.
"As for the expertise required of a chief engineer today, it mostly comes into effect when preventive maintenance fails, i.e. when things break down" he told us. The difficulty of the seaman’s profession is to reconcile the requirements defined ashore with the practical needs of the vessel. “There is more pressure today due to greater communication with the shore,” he points out.
What does he most like about this profession, which he sees as a vocation? “The feeling of satisfaction you get from doing a frontline job and contributing to something tangible. A seaman is only really satisfied when things are running smoothly,” he affirms.
In September 2017, Sven Buelens was offered a post as onshore referent mechanic for one year. His role: to assist the life cycle department teams responsible for studies on vessel maintenance.
A born seaman, Sven did not hesitate for a second: “For me, it was the opportunity to bring a seaman’s point of view on the procedures related to vessel maintenance to the people who establish them.”
Among his lines of work: the improvement of certain reporting tools, like vessel technical inspection reports and the digitization of the machine log to make the information it contains accessible to engineers ashore.
In order to replace a generic technical report form that differs according to the affiliates, Sven has created specific new forms for each vessel design that are common to all the entities of the company. He has also contributed to the digitization of the machine log by incorporating it into the maintenance software. “To rationalize the procedures, we need better communication between the crew aboard and the people ashore,” he explains. “I ensure that key documents are more precise and better shared, so that the people responsible for the studies can define the most relevant maintenance strategy possible.”
As for his personal development, Sven has acquired an overall vision of maintenance management from the shore, as well as a better understanding of the maintenance software, both as an onboard user and as an onshore administrator.
THROWING STEREOTYPES OVERBOARD
Sven has also managed to demystify the myth of the seaman... and especially to put his own prejudices to the side: “I have been pleasantly surprised to see the extent to which my colleagues are curious and open-minded. They have listened and been receptive to the changes proposed. I have also realized that their profession also includes challenges, even though they are different.”
A few months from the end of his mission ashore, Sven assures us that he will now see his own profession in a different light: “When I get back on board, I will be particularly attentive to the precision and the quality of the reports written, because I know today that they directly contribute to the quality of the work on shore,” he concludes.