Henk Kuiper, captain of the trailing suction hopper dredger, the Shoalway
“We have a crew of eight men, which can get intensive. Looking at safety issues, we comply with everything based on NINA. But it’s a challenge; with so few men, constantly watching out for each other.
You have to divide your attention: as 1st skipper you not only have to pay attention to the traffic, but also to the suction head and the pipe, where the 2nd mate is working after the dredging: is everything OK? Experience is a prerequisite for working safely with such a small team. A happy crew is my priority. I try to do my bit by always being there to support them.
And the other way round is true, too: my men are always available. I only have to give a shout and even the cook and the engineer are ready to help where they can. We’re a close team. We all know we can’t do without each other, which makes you really care about your colleagues. The night watchman visits the engine and pump rooms alone at night and if no one’s heard anything after half an hour, we call him on the radio. If he doesn’t respond, the 2nd mate checks if something’s wrong. Even if that means dredging has to stop for a while.”