Thu 28 May 2015 in Europe, Offshore Wind by Philip Woodcock
Eighteen vessel masters from the windfarm crew transfer industry recently met at the inaugural Workships Contractors’
Command Conference. The masters, who all work for the recently renamed Acta Marine Wind Services (AMWS),
travelled from UK and Europe to attend the event held in Colchester, Essex, UK.
The event was split into two separate dates with 100 per cent of current full-time masters attending. Each event consisted
of two days. Day one was a working forum with various safety and operational subject presentations including a guest
presentation by the International Marine Contractors Association (IMCA). On day two, AMWS funded a Maritime &
Coastguard Agency-recognised one-day stability course delivered by Maritas Training.
The conference paid a lot of attention to whether the attendees considered themselves masters or ‘skippers’ as they are
often referred to. This question brought about considerable debate and was ably contributed to by Mark Ford, technical
advisor to IMCA, who was also in attendance.
The attendees represented a broad spectrum of the offshore wind industry, from a relatively newly certified yacht master
waiting for his first command through to a well known master mariner with many years’ experience commanding a
variety of vessels in the workboat industry.
The general consensus was that they are masters, due to the level of competence and responsibility required to safely
operate a crew transfer vessel in the offshore wind industry. The importance of International Safety Management (ISM)
Code chapter 5 ‘Master’s responsibility and authority’ was discussed along with individual experiences shared on how
this can be challenged in a commercial situation.
Leaders in the renewable energy sector are in agreement, as the G9 publication Good practice guideline – the safe
management of small service vessels used in the offshore wind industry clearly refers to masters and not skippers but also
makes it clear that the yacht master certificate will be phased out of commercial acceptance in the years to come.
IMCA’s chief executive Chris Charman and technical advisors Mark Ford and Chris Baldwin joined day one of the event
to present an insight into IMCA. The presentations covered many subjects including IMCA’s background and drivers as
well as developing changes to the Common Marine Inspection Document (CMID), Marine Inspection for Small
Workboats (MISW) M 189 audit document and recent IMCA documentation and guideline publications.
Of particular interest to the masters was the recent announcement of the IMCA workboat crew record book and the latest
developments to the MISW M 189 eCMID audit document. Mr Baldwin explained how an effective audit scheme affects
the crew on a workboat and what influence the master can have on the audit process. He stressed the need for masters to
monitor auditors closely to ensure the high standard of the M 189 audit process is achieved.
Acta Marine acquires Offshore Wind Services
Offshore Wind Services has recently made the press through its acquisition by the Dutch workboat and shallow-water
experts Acta Marine. The acquisition sees the company’s vessels, with the newbuilding walk-to-work vessel Acta Orion,
form the heart of AMWS, a new Acta venture that adds to its worldwide fleet of more than 40 multipurpose workboats.
This allows AMWS to provide a wide range of support vessel services to the ever expanding offshore wind industry.
Workships Contractors has been retained to continue providing the high level of technical and crewing management
services of crew transfer vessels that the industry has come to expect. OSJ
*Philip Woodcock, operations director, Workships Contractors, as managers for Acta Marine Wind Services