News & Views

Welding Expertise On-Site, Hundreds of Miles from Shore

By Bill Colgan on Thursday, September 11th, 2014


rig_w_helicopterEWI associates have the best training in the world.  But they don’t train JUST in their fields of expertise.  Earlier this month, Sam Lewis and I completed training far outside our comfort zones.  We spent three days on the Louisiana Gulf Coast learning what life is like on the oil rigs where EWI’s expertise is utilized.  The first requirement to set foot on a rig anywhere in the world is certified completion of Basic Offshore Safety Induction Emergency Training (BOSIET).  The three-day course ensures the ability to operate safely offshore, which includes more than might be expected.  We trained in safety “induction” (basic offshore safety standards), survival skills in the open ocean, and how to handle emergency situations.

First, we reviewed usage of different types of extinguishers before actually putting out fires in the training center in Houma.  (Louisiana’s 95-degree heat and 95% humidity effectively duplicate the conditions of a platform fire.)  Then it got exciting.  After reviewing emergency procedure, we donned coveralls and life jackets, proceeded to the facility’s lifeboat and launch mechanism for lifeboat muster, boarded the TEMPSC (Totally Enclosed Motor Propelled Survival Craft—like you might have seen in the movie Captain Phillips), and actually launched from platform height to a purpose-built water tank below.

In preparation for transport to the platform, we had trained in safe travel aboard a helicopter, and correct emergency procedures in the event of a forced landing.  Because of the risk of an emergency water landing, much of the training focuses on escape from a capsized sinking helicopter.   A simulator lowers a helicopter mockup big enough to hold five people into a swimming pool and turns it upside-down.  Trainees, strapped inside in full gear, then have to make their escape to the surface.

All of us exited the “helicopter” UNDERWATER AND UPSIDE-DOWN.  It sounds terrifying, but once you’ve been through it, you might even describe it as “fun.”

So remember, EWI associates are willing to go the extra mile to ensure that those skills can be applied wherever you need them—even on an oil rig hundreds of miles from shore.

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