Changing ships can be an exciting and interesting time, quite often you have become restless on your previous vessel and are itching to get your teeth into something new, but then sometimes…you dread the prospect of it all. I served two years on my previous ship the Maersk Laser, had settled in well, made good friends and sort of knew was I was doing. But when you get to the point of being able to rest on your laurels it really is time to make a move somewhere else.
I was contacted by HR who informed me I was to join the Maersk Recorder, a cable-laying vessel. I must admit I knew nothing about her and what she did (other than the obvious), where she operated or anything, the only thing I asked was that they were certain changing ships would not clash with my sisters wedding, I was told that it wouldn’t and that my leave request had been approved and that her wedding wouldn’t be missing a best man…
I said my goodbyes and bid everyone farewell on the Maersk Laser and I was surprised at how many of my fellow shipmates said how envious they were that I was about to join this particular type of ship. I, of course had my doubts, a typical cynical sailor I guess but I was fairly certain I’d made a mistake when I agreed and had know Idea what I was letting myself in for.
With no idea where the ship would be operating and only that she was on charter to a big project company made packing particularly difficult! There were talks of Africa, an Equatorial Guinea visa in my passport, china also being mentioned along with the North Sea. So with shorts and long johns, t-shirts and wooly hats… I made my way to Sunderland still with no clue where I was going or just how far a fall from grace this ship may well be in comparison to the brand new Maersk Laser…
Thankfully I couldn’t of been more wrong, I really should learn to be less pessimistic! I arrived at the gangway starring up at the huge helipad and looking at all the cable laying equipment, Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) and lots of other things I really could only speculate as to what they were.
As always we had a ridiculous handover period of about an hour and that was that, fortunately for me the other First Officers were all excellent and were happy to give me a proper walk around and fill my head with too much information to take in at once (not hard).
Luckily for me the Dynamic Positioning system was one that I had already used so that was one less thing to have to focus on as the rest was quite daunting and very full on. I have just experienced my first mobilisation since the British Antarctic Survey and it was the most hectic but interesting experience of my life, we went from a clear deck to a full on container village on deck, nearly 200km of fibre optic cable in just one tank and a plough on deck.
For my next swing we will be up in Norway putting all this mesmerising equipment to good use and I’m so excited at the prospect of seeing it all in action and being part of projects on a large scale.