Salvage master Sylvia Tervoort was in charge of the salvage operation of the oil platform Transocean Winner, which had grounded at the Hebrides, Scotland. In contrary to most salvage operations not SMIT Salvage, but the owner, Transocean, was responsible for the whole operation. This asked for continuous and intensive consultation: “If the safety is at stake you may never be silent.”

“Looking back at this operation the theme was cultural differences. Being an offshore company the client was always looking at procedures; all steps were planned on paper, whereas we tend to look ahead further or do research in order to gather and share accurate information in full, and in doing so maybe take a few steps at a time. What counts here is experience with similar incidents, this enables you to fully grasp the risks involved. A significant example: when one day the platform changed the list about 19 degrees from one side to the other, while being high above the water line, this also alarmed the night shift who appeared on deck. Whereas our people immediately started working to restore the stability, the client prepared for evacuation through the T-card system. T-cards are important, but at some moments we have different priorities.

This project was all about stability and maritime operations. We needed a lot of information about the platform to be able to validate the model with which we calculate the stability and compare with reality. In this case it was hard to explain to the client. He did not always see the necessity of our propositions. Propositions however, which concerned the retention and control of stability. This sometimes caused frustration on our side. The atmosphere changed when – by coincidence – a member of their team was replaced by someone familiar with maritime operations. This brought our two cultures closer together, leading to a more constructive dialogue, understanding, safety and reaching the common goal.

If a rigid working atmosphere means you have a less efficient operation, you can think ‘let it be’. But if the safety is at stake you may never be silent. That is NINA too: put things forward, explain why things are necessary, make sure everybody understands the situation. I had to talk my head off to get things done, but it was worth the discussion to reach our mutual goal in a safe way. We are all in it together and I feel responsible for the safety of all people involved. NINA starts with myself, with the awareness ‘we have to do this together and we all have to return home in good health’.

The salvage operation was finished successfully: the platform was refloated without incidents and transported to the scrap yard.

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