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April 2024

Digitalization at the service of seafarers...and clients


Towards shared sustainable growth


The year 2023 was marked by the confirmation of our business recovery, the continued reactivation of our fleet and the intensification of our CSR approach. In 2024, we need to strengthen our processes, focus on operational excellence and, in particular, on the safety and technical reliability of our fleet in operation. Our core business is to provide the right maritime logistical and technological solutions to support our clients' operations at sea.  

However, we have to remember that, as a maritime operator in more than 30 countries worldwide, we are also involved in the energy transition within our maritime ecosystem. Our economic development and our CSR approach are therefore interdependent, since our economic growth and sustainable development complement each other. 

Today, clients, suppliers and partners are all linked by a shared responsibility to reduce the impact of their activities, a profitable AND sustainable business that reduces the impact of our activities. As players in the same value chain, we must question our business practices and the impact of our activities and decisions on our ecosystem, in the broadest sense, and on our environment – particularly the seas and oceans. 

To imagine that we can unilaterally find solutions would be unreasonable, so let's discuss, collaborate and co-construct the conditions for the development of our companies, in a shared framework of sustainable growth.

Expert insight

Digitalization at the service of seafarers...and clients

François RIVIERE
Connected Vessel Project Manager
3 min

BOURBON won at the end of 2023 the Charte Bleue d’Armateurs de France award for its CASSIOPÉE (Collecte et Analyse de donnéeS pour la Sécurité des Opérations, la Performance et l’Efficience Energétique [Data Collection and Analysis for the Safety of Operations, Performance and Energy Efficiency]) program – the symbol of the digitalization of its fleet. François Rivière, Connected Vessel Project Manager, tells us about this ambitious program.

PartnerSHIP: How would you define the program, in simple terms?

François Rivière: It meets both a social and an environmental challenge. The applications developed by BOURBON and its partners, which are hosted onboard, must provide seafarers with decision support, thus supporting them in their workload and enabling them to concentrate more on their safety and that of the vessel. In addition, data analysis and treatment improve a vessel’s operational performance.

PS: What technical platform is it based on?

F.R.: The program has enabled the creation of an onboard system for the collection of data aboard and its transmission onshore in an agnostic, modular and cyber-secure manner (see video and box below).

PS: More specifically, what do you expect from this program? What are its benefits?

F.R.: The goal of the Connected Vessel program is to provide seafarers with digital decision-support tools and to develop a digital twin enabling optimized fleet management and reducing carbon impact. Three applications are already operational for this purpose: Digital ASOG, Predictive Maintenance and PortCall. Digital ASOG enables the digitized creation, validation and use of ASOG, Activity Specific Operating Guidelines. BOURBON's seafarers thus have access to a real time decision-support tool for their DP operations. This application must lighten seafarers' mental workload, by synthesizing the parameters to be monitored during Dynamic Positioning operations. The Predictive Maintenance application deployed onboard enables early identification of risks of failure of the vessel's key equipment. It is thus possible to anticipate the need for intervention and organize the logistics accordingly. PortCall is a third application, which facilitates the preparation and management of port calls. Logistics needs and movements are listed and updated in a digital tool that enables the information to be shared among the crew and the various levels of onshore support, in real time.

The goal of the Connected Vessel program is to provide seafarers with digital decision-support tools and to develop a digital twin to optimize fleet management and reduce carbon impact.

François RIVIERE
Connected Vessel Project Manager

PS: You also mentioned the digital twin. What exactly is that?

F.R.: Indeed, work is in progress to model the vessels in the form of a digital twin, using the collected data set. This twin provides permanent access to the exact operational capacity of the ship and can thus reduce environmental impact, thanks to precise monitoring of the configuration of the vessel’s equipment and operational parameters.

PS: To what extent has it been deployed across the fleet?

F.R.: The work carried out to date has enabled validation of the operation of the onboard platform for data collection and transmission. This platform has already been installed on a dozen vessels, giving access to the predictive maintenance application. In the coming months, BOURBON will continue to deploy these applications and other solutions based on the utilization of connected vessel data will be developed. In all, twenty vessels should benefit from this by the end of this year.


Data collection and processing both on board and ashore are the backbone of the Connected Vessel program. The partnership between BOURBON and Iqanto (ex-Predict) focuses precisely on this aspect of the program. An explanation by Wilfrid Bolinois, Technology Deployment Manager.

PartnerSHIP: What is your role within the Connected Vessel program?

W. B.: Our first task is to ensure the onboard collection of data and to treat and structure it, to make it ready for use. This is a real challenge, because on an AHTS vessel like a Bourbon Liberty 200 series, for example, a lot of equipment is fitted with sensors, for generators, GPS, radars, bow thrusters, lifting and anchor handling systems, etc., and we centralize all this data.

PS: How is this data gathered?

W. B.: We have a software solution that is capable of interacting with several data sources. Aboard the vessel, this concerns not only energy parameters, as I already mentioned, but also all navigational elements. All the data gathered on your vessels is sent ashore and stored in real time, on a server managed by BOURBON. At this precise moment, we enter the analysis phase, with a view to improving energy efficiency and reducing environmental footprint. The data collected aboard a vessel is also used directly by the crew for implementing predictive maintenance. At this level, it is our role to configure our software and construct indicators that reveal the state of health of the vessel's different systems, thanks to data scientists and experts from the relevant fields. We thus have two tasks: first to alert the user to any deviant behavior of a piece of equipment and, second, to help them identify the root cause.

PS: How do you manage to identify this root cause?

W. B.: Through a "cause tree", which helps users perform the appropriate equipment checks and helps them determine what maintenance action should be taken. It is then up to the seafarers to plan their maintenance action, according to the urgency of the situation.

PS: What are the main challenges of your collaboration with BOURBON?

W. B.: Without a doubt the technical availability of the vessels and the decarbonization of operations. These are major challenges for BOURBON and, as such, they are also becoming ours.

PS: What are the next stages of your collaboration?

W. B.: With regard to predictive maintenance, the concepts and technology are ready. We now need to capitalize on our experience, to refine the alerts and ramp up the crew. We're also helping BOURBON track fuel overconsumption. We are all in the ramp-up phase!

Expert insight
Their stories

Security: Greater vigilance despite a good 2023

François MORIZUR
Group Security Director
3 min

Last January, when the MICA CENTER (Maritime, Information, Cooperation & Awareness), the French center for expertise dedicated to maritime security, had just published its annual activity report, we took the opportunity to review 2023 with François Morizur, Group Security Director, who is also a reserve officer and, as such, regularly involved with the MICA Center. Interview.

PartnerSHIP: How would you sum up 2023 in terms of maritime security?

François Morizur: It was a year of contrasts, with a low number of incidents, particularly in the Gulf of Guinea, where we mainly operate, but also in a geopolitical context that remains extremely tense, especially in the Black Sea. In the South American region, the situation was also calm, with, for example, no incidents at all in the Gulf of Mexico, which is an area that was greatly affected in 2022. In Asia, on the other hand, there were around a hundred incidents, over half being along the channel in Singapore. In the Indian Ocean, since the Hamas attack on Israel, there has been a knock-on effect that has led to a sharp increase in acts of maritime terrorism in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden as well as a surprising resurgence of acts of piracy by Somalian groups.

PS: Why "surprising"?

F. M.: Maritime piracy was stamped out in the Indian Ocean over four years ago. This sudden upsurge in piracy, at such a level of intensity and over such a wide area, was totally unexpected. 

PS: So, BOURBON was quite fortunate last year.

F. M.: Most of our activities take place in the Gulf of Guinea, where we've seen a real alleviation in acts of piracy. So, we've been able to benefit from greater security in this environment. In fact, we were only directly affected by two cases of theft on anchored vessels in Luanda, Angola.

PS: Do you attribute these good results solely to restored calm in this area or to improved application of procedures?

F. M.: It's clear that compliance with procedures has played a considerable role. In this respect, I'd like to mention that the Anguun crew, working out of Ghana, was confronted on two occasions, just two days apart, by thieves attempting to board while the vessel was anchored. These attempted thefts were prevented, since the thieves' movements were detected very quickly by the team on watch, which raised the alarm. ISPS monitoring is still key: knowing the way local thieves work, being vigilant, keeping a deterrent watch and responding as quickly as possible, to raise the alarm and stop suspected thieves boarding.

PS: What is your 2024 action plan?

F. M.: The year 2023 will have been a relatively quiet year for our operations in terms of maritime security. However, since exception is not the rule and we probably won't enjoy the same conditions in the coming years, we still need to be at-the-ready. In fact, we're currently experiencing a rise in regional and local tensions, which have impacted or may yet impact the maritime sector, in the China Sea, the Red Sea, the Indian Ocean, Guyana, the Black Sea, etc. We're also seeing obvious pockets of tension, related to political and/or socio-economic situations, in a number of countries where our employees occasionally work and live and where there is risk of unrest or political instability. For example, Gabon and Senegal have been affected by political crises in recent months. And given latent economic crises, other signs are appearing. Finally, in the Gulf of Guinea, even if the situation could lead us to lower our guard a little, we must remain alert. On January 1st, a tanker was attacked in the south of Malabo and nine crew members were held hostage. This shows us that pirates are still highly capable of acting.

PS: What is your key message this year?

F. M.: Crew safety and security depend on good risk assessment, the implementing of tailored preventive measures, strict application of directives, the preparing of crews and vessels and the professionalism of our people. It goes without saying that the security environment covers all our employees, seafarers, technicians, sales teams and onshore personnel, who move around all over the planet, throughout the year, in constantly-changing environments. Once again, we must be guided by good risk assessment and by our collective and individual compliance with general and specific rules. 


Their stories
Successful together

Climate prospective: a strategic steering challenge

2 min

BOURBON's CSR priorities are in line with its vision, values and commitments. They also reflect BOURBON's support for the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), to which the company seeks to contribute within its sphere of influence. The definition of these priorities has led the Group to start working on a climate prospective for 2023, alongside economist Nicolas Siorak, researcher and teacher, member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Climate resilience means assessing potential climate risks & opportunities, integrating them into our business planning and ensuring long-term company's resilience. This approach is motivated by a conviction: climate forecasting is now closely linked to the economic management of companies, and as such is becoming a priority.

The collaboration with Nicolas Siorak consisted of workshops to raise awareness of foresight and the logic of resilience, defining key variables by field of activity, with the identification of physical (world at +1.5°C/world at +2°C), geopolitical and energy, and financing issues. The aim is to build different scenarios, measure their relevance and validate or invalidate a number of threats and opportunities.

"The work carried out with BOURBON is part of a wider research framework," explains Nicolas Siorak. "In this respect, it highlights the need to initiate a paradigm shift, which is the ultimate goal of any foresight exercise. Firstly, with regard to the maritime players themselves, who are gradually becoming aware of the need to work in a less competitive and more collaborative mode, in order to tame the potential climate radicalism of the future. Secondly, with regard to the need to renew approaches to financing, in order to better support companies in implementing genuine economic transformation plans."

This approach was born out of consideration of the 5 factors t the origin of this climatic survey, foremost among which is operational risk, which is easy to imagine for a shipping company whose ships could be affected by extreme sailing conditions. Climate foresight enables us to anticipate these risks, with a view to reducing potential disruptions.

Integrating climate forecasting into our economic planning also enables us to better anticipate regulatory changes and to position ourselves effectively in our sector as players in the transition to more sustainable practices. This approach also gives us a responsibility to invest in environmentally-friendly technologies and practices, and to make innovation one of our key development factors.

Since climatic disruptions also have a significant financial impact on industrial activity (repairs to damaged equipment, operational delays, etc.), foresight analysis enables us to identify potential scenarios and adopt preventive measures to minimize these costs.

Last but not least, climate forecasting is an integral part of BOURBON's corporate strategy, and one of the pillars of its commitment to sustainability towards its clients, investors, institutional and commercial partners.

Successful together
In pictures

AHTS: a fleet that combines support and precision

Positioning oil platforms, towing drilling rigs, anchor handling... These are all missions carried out by our AHTS (Anchor Handling Tug Supply) vessels.

Anchor handling operations require vessels that are powerful, precise, and reliable. To meet the needs of our clients, we offer a modern, diversified fleet of AHTS vessels.

A fleet combining power and precision support in pictures, representing almost half our supply fleet, our AHTS are available in different powers, allowing us to meet all our clients' needs, from continental offshore to deepwater offshore.

In pictures
Shared views

Survey service offer: for better control and innovation

Chief Innovation Officer - Bourbon Subsea Services
5 min

Bourbon Subsea Services has introduced a Survey service that gives it greater control over operations and allows it to consider numerous innovations through the use of state-of-the-art technology such as autonomous units and subsea drones. Fabrice Mandroux, Chief Innovation Officer explains.


PartnerSHIP: What exactly is the survey service and what is the scope of such a mission?

Fabrice Mandroux: GPS signals don't exist below the water surface. However, we have to position objects, data and information we collect underwater as accurately as possible. Acoustic positioning enables us to pinpoint the precise location of the underwater data and information we're looking for. In the offshore construction sector, including oil & gas and wind energy, this means we collect geo-referenced data, including positioning of ROVs and underwater structures such as oil wells, wind turbine supports, etc. We can map the seabed, searching for and positioning wrecks, reefs, old and unexploded underwater mines, hazards to navigation and underwater work and structural inspection data such as pipelines, underwater cables, etc.

PS: What led you to develop this Survey offer?

F. M.: The major goal was to add value for our clients and, while maintaining control over the entire operation and staying true to our innovation-based approach.

PS: Why does this strengthen control over operations?

F. M.: Using a subcontractor, with a direct link to the client can lead to lack of cohesion between teams, misunderstandings and sometimes confusion over roles and responsibilities, particularly when it comes to surveying, navigation, and ROV. By integrating surveying into our service offering, we become more efficient, flexible and agile. For our clients, the benfits are clear. He no longer has to manage the interfaces between the various parties involved. We are their single point of contact, which makes managing the operation much easier.

PS: Your last goal is staying true to your innovation-based approach. In what way?

F. M.: We're currently looking at new technology that we may integrate, such as surface technologies with autonomous surface units that could complement our vessels for certain missions, or subsea drones. These technologies would allow us to carry out different operations simultaneously. While the ROV is carrying  out its mission, the autonomous unit can be used for other purposes, enabling us to optimize operations and reduce costs. We're currently working on the long-term "Despot" project, which will eventually enable the development of a fleet of autonomous underwater vehicles (see article in PartnerShip #16), that will potentially be very useful in survey operations!

A major goal: to add value for our clients and, at the same time, to maintain control over the entire operation and stay true to our innovation approach.

Chief Innovation Officer

PS: How did you come up with the Survey offer?

F. M.: We brought resources and expertise in-house first of all to manage the Survey offer, then established a partnership with Deep Ocean Search to better structure our offering (see box). We integrate equipment like photogrammetric cameras, which enable us to take panoramic photos and produce a 3D reconstruction of a structure, or of gyrocompasses tailored to the Survey offering. Those we use on our vessels don't necessarily have the required accuracy, so we're gradually upgrading them. The idea is to have equipment on board our vessels that can be pooled for both navigation and surveying. It's about pooling needs to optimize equipment and the service we provide, while reducing costs.

PS: Bourbon Subsea Services' survey offer is relatively recent. What do clients think of it?

F. M.: The first contracts concluded clearly validate this new offer. We've rolled out a contract with a Survey offer on the Fenix project, in Argentina, with Bourbon Evolution 808 MPSV, and two other contracts have already been concluded on projects in Senegal and Côte d'Ivoire. I'm convinced that our clients are fully aware of the advantages of this new, integrated service, these initial successes are highly encouraging proof of this.

For several months, Deep Ocean Search has been supporting Bourbon Subsea Services in rolling out its new Survey offering, in partnership with significant mutual advantages. Sébastien Bougant, Project Manager at Deep Ocean Search, explains.

PS: How would you describe your partnership with Bourbon Subsea Services?

Sébastien Bougant: We've been BOURBON's subcontractor since 2022, but the partnership as it stands today was concluded in 2023. So, we're survey service providers for a number of BOURBON vessels but we also provide expertise and technical support, such as bringing MPSVs up to survey standards, and monitoring equipment quality, as well as consultancy and expertise on innovation topics. Our role is to provide turnkey solutions and enable BOURBON to respond to calls for tender with greater agility and rapidity. In operational terms, our scope of intervention is the positioning of the vessel and the elements to be positioned on the seabed, to the last centimeter of accuracy. Onboard, we're the connection between the vessel's captain, the ROV and the client.

PS: What's the crucial aspect of a survey?

S.B.: The client's quality control. When all the parameters have been validated, the operation runs smoothly. The preparation stage is crucial, because we have to prove to the client that we can carry out the positioning efficiently. On an operation like Fenix in Argentina, for example, our team was on site well beforehand, to install the equipment and check all the parameters. In the end, we had a highly experienced team of three, a mission manager and two surveyors, one in charge of daytime operation and one in charge of nighttime operations.

PS: How do you see tomorrow's surveying?

S.B.: New tools will revolution this activity! Autonomous navigation with AUVs, new technology such as photogrammetry, equipment that is beginning to be validated by major oil companies, etc. We'll be able to launch a fleet of underwater drones, track them, collect data, recover and process this data, and transmit it to shore in real-time, for example. The scope of exploration is virtually endless!


Shared views

The benefits of hybrids!

Managing Director of Bourbon Mobility International
2 min

After a complex period linked to the oil&gas and covid crisis, FSIVs (or Fast Supply and Intervention Vessels) are currently enjoying strong demand and are an essential support for offshore drilling operations. Insights from Ivelino Do Nascimento, Managing Director of Bourbon Mobility International.  

PartnerShip : What are the advantages of an FSIV? 

Ivelino Do Nascimento: It's a hybrid vessel, able to carry both freight and passengers. It's a type of vessel with extremely interesting capacities for our clients, thanks to its combination with the ability to operate in operational complex environments, with heavy cargo loads. It's worth remembering that the deck of these vessels has an average loading area of 240m2. This specificity has also enabled us to play an important role in the construction phase of the GTA project in Senegal. 

PS: What was the Group's strategy with regard to this fleet of vessels following the crisis? 

I. do N.: The Group made a firm decision to concentrate solely on FSIV DP2 vessels, in order to best serve our clients' interests and remain in line with our own requirements for operational excellence and safety. This strategy has paid off, as almost our entire fleet is now under long-term contract, whether in West Africa, the Middle East or South-East Asia, where demand is rising sharply. We are in a buoyant market while the non-DP FSIV market has become a commodity market. 

PS: Let's look ahead. How does BOURBON plan to position itself in this market in the future? 

I. do N.: We've started thinking about the new generation of FSIV DP2s, with a view to launching a newbuilding program. The challenge we face is to respond ever more closely to our clients' needs, and provide them with the vessels best suited to their activity, particularly in regions where the sea is rougher than in equatorial zones such as West Africa. The new FSIV DP2s will enable us to navigate in such seas, and to carry out crew changes, notably with the help of a motor-compensated gangway. With this system, the vessel approaches and deploys a telescopic gangway all the way to the platform. It's a collaborative approach: we don't work alone on these issues, we're in constant contact with our clients.