Evolving Requirements For Client Representatives

By Glenn Hovermale
January 25, 2022

The underlying general credentials for serving as an at-sea client representative have always included a 4-year degree in geomatics, marine survey or physical oceanography or relevant practical experience collecting survey data at sea or working in a survey capacity in a branch of the military. An individual can improve their chances of being hired by being familiar with survey and cable installation-specific software such as WinFrog or Makai. Of greatest importance, following technical and practical experience, is project history, where the more experienced individual has a higher likelihood of being chosen for a project. But modern marine technology and expanding marine industries have added new dynamic requirements to the marine industry at large and now additional credentials and licenses are required. However, nothing prepared the industry for the impact of COVID-19 and how it would change the admissible requirements for serving as a client representative at sea.

In 2018 the standard requirements for serving as a client representative on an undersea cable project included an active passport, documentation confirming one’s physical aptitude (typically an OGUK certificate, or general doctor physical confirmation), and some form of an at-sea safety certificate (such as BOSIET, SPE or FOET). More recently, it is the proof of having received the Covid-19 vaccination that is the primary and contract-breaking requirement for client representation positions. Simple proof of vaccination is only the beginning in some cases, where supplemental travel insurance and multiple RC-PCR tests at each country and/or point of embarkation may be required. Additional precautions may be instituted by vessel owners/operators that require extensive quarantine/isolation periods of 2-15 days at hotels in countries of embarkation prior to boarding of a vessel for a specific operation. The uncertain and wavering nature of Covid-19, and the pandemic variants, have also led to widespread travel and work lockdowns (spring 2020), creating a more acute uncertainty that has driven the industry to a more geographically regional approach to covering projects. Undoubtedly, safety measures will continue to grow and change, and the unpredictability of existing and future virus variants will ensure that the current state of affairs will remain the newly established standard.

The pre-Covid environment that issued in the at-sea safety and offshore physical requirements stemmed from the engagement of the submarine cable industry and the offshore oil and gas industry. The OGUK organization was created in 2007 and now is established as a baseline health requisite for the UK Offshore Oil and Gas industry. It has since become an international standard for health, ensuring that personnel are capable of hearing and performing basic physical tasks while at sea. The application of submarine fiber-optics within the oil and gas offshore platform industry came to fruition in the late 1990s throughout the Irish and the North Sea and eventually in the Gulf of Mexico. The likelihood of operating within a dynamic offshore oil field (requiring vessels with DP-2 or DP-3 redundancy) or traveling via helicopter ensured that the requirements of BOSIET and HUET were a necessity.

Over the past few years, the growth and expansion of the offshore wind industry has introduced a new set of standards, based on aerobic health, understanding HSSE, and working at heights, which go beyond those existing standard requirements. Specifically, the Global Wind Organisation (GWO) has developed a specific regimen for safety that applies to those working on the vessels that survey, install, and service turbines in all modes of operation. Due to the climbing/vertical nature/requirements of wind turbines an additional component of aerobic fitness/capacity, known as the Chester Step test, is now a requirement in addition to the basic physical certification. Like the Oil and Gas industry, the specific vessels are required to possess DP-3 redundancy and with the additional dynamic parts of turbines, safety has become paramount and there tend to be significantly greater numbers of representatives for individual operations.

To continue reading the rest of this article, please read it in Issue 122 of the SubTel Forum Magazine on page 40 or on our archive site here.