“Just having a lifeboat — without the training — is not of much value to you. How do you get in that boat? How do you make sure it’s secure and that the weather doesn’t get in? How do you release the boat from the hooks? How do you drive the boat away from the installation? What’s the best direction to go? How do you let other people know where you are?”

- Fred Anstey

The Marine Institute’s Offshore Safety and Survival Centre (OSSC) provides hands-on lifeboat training to offshore oil and gas workers at the Holyrood Marine Base. The year-round training takes place in all types of weather and uses the actual lifeboats and launch systems that operators employ offshore.

In an ideal world, oil and gas workers who are faced with an emergency hundreds of kilometres offshore, can wait for a helicopter or supply vessel, but the OSSC prepares workers as if there is no help available. The training they receive in Holyrood ensures the workers know how to launch a lifeboat in harsh conditions. It also ensures that they know how to drive it in severe weather, retrieve people out of the water in high seas and bring the lifeboat back alongside the DAVIT launch and back up on the installation, be it a stationary platform, an FPSO or semi-submersible.

“If you don’t know how to do those things, the training is not of much value to you,” says Fred Anstey, Head of Memorial University’s School of Maritime Studies. “Let’s say you’re … 300 kilometres out… you do have helicopters; you do have supply boats there to help you in a situation. But that does not always happen. Normally, from a mariner’s perspective, you try to prepare yourself as if there is no help. The training is very important.”

Between the OSSC’s four-day lifeboat coxswain training, two-day refresher courses, and simulation training provided by operators, all workers trained at the Holyrood Base know not only how to evacuate from an offshore installation, but also how to maneuver a lifeboat and use it in emergency situations.

Contributor bio

Fred Anstey, Head of School of Maritime Studies
Fisheries and Marine Institute of Memorial University of Newfoundland

As the person responsible for the Offshore Safety and Survival Centre, Fred hopes that offshore oil and gas workers never have to use the lifeboat training they receive, but if they do, he is certain they will be prepared.