Supply boats, crew boats, and other support vessels are a necessity in the oil field. Whether it's delivering equipment to rigs, ensuring crews arrive safely and on time, or simply providing support vessels for in-field operations, choosing the right vessel and owner is a pivotal part of this process.
However, it can be hard to decipher what criteria a vessel and owner should meet for consideration.
Below we've put together Three Key Things your company should consider before hiring a support vessel:
To maintain safety and security, support vessels must be compliant with current United States Coast Guard regulations. A vessel owner must be dedicated to maintaining policy, standards, and programs in alignment with the safe operation of vessels and facilities. Ask the vessel owner for proof of compliance with the Coast Guard.
In addition, the Captain or Master of the vessel should have the proper licensing and documentation. If you are operating in the United States, be aware that vessels must be compliant with The Jones Act. This act requires goods shipped between U.S. ports to be transported on ships that are built, owned, and operated by United States citizens or permanent residents.
A vessel owner that is up-to-date and educated about maritime rules and regulations is a safe choice for your business needs.
The more knowledge you have about a support vessel's fleet the better. Ask about the age of the fleet or a particular vessel. Does the owner have a maintenance policy? Will they allow you to see their maintenance records? Ask about their history concerning safety. Since the Coast Guard requires mandatory reporting for marine casualties, you can research incidents of concern. Search and review reports by visiting the Coast Guard's incident investigation page.
It's smart to choose a vessel owner that values the safety of both their vessels and their crew. After all, your time and money are dependent on whether the vessel can safely deliver the intended materials and support.
Depending on your needs, you'll need to assess the amount of experience the vessel owner and crew have in your particular operation.
For instance, does the owner have a history of working in similar operations? It can be helpful to consider the length of time a crew has been working together and how long they've been on a particular vessel. Crew cohesion can lead to smoother transport, better support, and overall customer satisfaction.
Not only that, but consider the physical capabilities of the vessel and crew, as well as the technical capabilities of the vessel and crew. Does the vessel have dynamic positioning (DP)? The computer-controlled system automatically maintains a vessel's position and heading by using its propellers and thrusters. Does the vessel have available DP Officers? Are they experienced in operating the DP system? If your company works in the oil field, consider hiring a vessel with a FiFi system. These systems provide off-ship or external fire fighting capabilities.
Just as with most ventures, knowing your company's specific needs will help determine which vessel owner has the right experience and capabilities to get the job done.
Finding a vessel and owner that supports your company's needs can take time and patience, but taking into consideration safety, compliance, and experience will make the process easier in the long run.
However, if you're overwhelmed, consider using a company like Gulf Marine Contractors (GMC). GMC can consolidate the process, offering the ability to quickly broker vessels with reliable owners. Finding the right vessel owner can reduce costs, increase efficiency, and ultimately provide your company with the support needed for success.
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