How can we ensure the embarkation and disembarkation of persons, some of whom may be inexperienced at sea, in a short time and in total safety?
« The Boat Landing is a tubular V-shaped structure in which the Surfer positions itself: it is simple, effective and offers an excellent quality/price/safety ratio. In spite of its basic and rudimentary appearance, this system is constantly evolving and has never ceased to prove itself in oil and gas fields the world over,» replies Vincent Coquelet. The Surfer enters the V and rests against the tubular structure that houses a ladder. Trained for strict procedures, the crew then assist the passengers to climb up, regardless of their level of experience. The system is highly solicited but requires very little maintenance compared with a helideck or a telescopic gangway, which otherwise needs a much longer approach phase in DP mode.
BOURBON's standards and specifications being extremely strict for this equipment, the condition of the landing is monitored by periodic inspections in collaboration with the clients. It is thus thanks to this equipment that BOURBON has transferred over 15 million people since 2014, counting only 1 injury per million passengers without any fatality, that makes the safest system, notably regarding frog/basket2 or helicopter3. Contributor to the design of this system from the beginning, BOURBON has become its referent and is regularly contacted to design or assess installations. Manufacturing standards have thus been defined during 30 years of accumulated experience. They concern the distance between the tubes, their diameter, the position of the ladders, the location of the structure on the platform, etc.
" The Boat Landing enables the totally safe transfer of up to 3 passengers per minute on average. This transfer system proves to be the most efficient on the market "
Vincent CoqueletHSE Manager - Bourbon Mobility
Even though the equipment itself has evolved little, the methods have significantly changed. « Pilots are required to carry out a prior risk analysis, which entails periods of observation before and after entering the Boat Landing,», adds Vincent Coquelet. « Then, when the critical phase of passenger transfer begins, we have implemented numerous measures to optimize safety. Checklists have been developed, concise and standardized language has been established to limit any confusion in the instructions given, for clear communication with the passenger, especially during embarkation, when they may be 3 meters above the surfer on the offshore installation. Green armbands are also made available to less experienced passengers, so that they can benefit from special attention during the transfer. ». Some tools have been or are being implemented, including new training videos on board and ashore before embarking, safety information distributed before embarking, and safety information to be found on passenger seats. In addition, a system of training and audits by local referent seamen consolidates all these procedures.
Other tools are being developed, such as an online application with a validation test to be completed by the passengers before embarkation or a virtual reality simulator to prepare for disembarkation, which can be very daunting for beginners.
1Hs: significant height is a statistical quantity used to characterize the state of the sea. It is often abbreviated to Hs. It represents the average height (measured between the crest and the trough) of a third of the highest waves. This historical definition derives from the estimation of wave height by visual observation, the significant height being close to that estimated by an observer.
2Frog et basket: passenger transport per crane or nacelle
3 Rates recorded: 1 death per 5 million people transported by frog or baskets (DNV-GL 2014), or 1 death per 243,000 people transported by helicopter (IOGP 2016).
Three questions for: Hoel Bertrand-Kerouedan, a surfer pilot
PartnerShip: how would you judge the Boat Landing system as a daily user?
Hoel Bertrand-Kerouedan: During the transport of personnel by Crew boats, the embarkation and disembarkation phases effectively follow each other, but it is not because we are used to it that we can allow ourselves to be less vigilant. Entering the Boat Landing requires concentration, because there is always a potential risk at sea. But today I do not see any process safer than the Boat Landing to stabilize the Surfer in front of a platform.
PS: What procedure do you apply
H. B-K : After assessing the sea, wind and swell conditions, as well as the state of the Boat Landing itself, we establish communication with the platform, which authorizes us to land or not, depending on the operations in progress. This communication is essential. After a trial in reverse to avoid any surprises, we reduce the engine speed to brake the Surfer's way* and we come up against the structure. Of course, it is sometimes necessary to turn back because of difficult weather conditions. Safety is our number 1 priority – we take no risks.
PS: How do you ensure your passengers' safety?
H. B-K: We always notify them when we are about to land and broadcast a video informing them of the procedures in progress. Moreover, as is the case for aircraft, safety documentation is available on board and we encourage them to read it. Although some passengers are used to the process, others are less used to it and are therefore naturally more apprehensive: the distribution of armbands to enable us to identify less experienced passengers has been a real help for the crews. In this case, our vigilance is key to ensuring totally safe transfer.
*The residual speed of a vessel after stopping its propulsion