Bureau Veritas: Day in the life of a marine surveyor

Ooi Hee Siong graduated with a Bachelor of Technology in Mechanical Engineering from National University of Singapore (NUS) in 2012.  He started off as a engineer in Keppel Shipyard and eventually worked as a project manager.  Looking for a new challenge, he embarked on his journey as a marine surveyor and auditor at Bureau Veritas Marine (Singapore) (BV), Ooi told Maritime Fairtrade.

Bureau Veritas is a global leader in conformity assessment and certification services with over 190 years of experience and expertise. It is the largest classification and verification group in the world.

As a marine surveyor and auditor, Ooi carries out ship-in-services such as

  • Carry out periodical class and statutory surveys of various Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) and non-convention steel-hulled vessels.
  • Conduct class surveys of hull, machinery, electrical, automation installation, boilers.
  • Conduct statutory surveys of international load line, cargo ship safety equipment, safety construction and safety radio, international prevention of pollution by oil, air, sewage, garbage, ballast water management.
  • Conduct cargo gear surveys according to International Labor Organisation (ILO) 152 convention.
  • Perform audits: International Safety Management (ISM), International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) audits and Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) inspections in accordance with IMO and flag regulations.

In order to carry out his job efficiently, Ooi has to possess knowledge of various flag and regulatory requirements.  He also has to have good communication skills to be able to liaise effectively with superintendents, shipping agents, service providers and non-destructive testing personnel.

Working odd hours and finding satisfaction in a job well done

Ooi shares that as a marine surveyor, he has to adapt to the odd hours and has to accept last-minute requests for ad-hoc jobs.

“When assigned a job, I have to see what are kinds of the survey/audit request and do preparation accordingly,” Ooi says. He would need to “check the survey request, ship status, check ship’s previous record, check ship certificate, prepare the rough report/certificate when required and vessel arrival schedule, etc.”

When on-board the vessel, Ooi would carry out the survey/audit accordingly.  However, the work does not end there. Ooi highlights that “the final task is to complete the survey/audit report after finishing the survey/audit on-board the vessel.”

Ooi shares that after completing his tasks, he usually tries to rest and recharge during whatever free time he has left as the surveys are usually conducted during odd hours.  Meeting and gathering with friends and families are the “best parts after so much time spent on my work”, he says.

Often, Ooi is faced with challenges in his work on a daily basis.  One of the challenges include having to complete the survey/audit onboard a ship regardless of rain or shine.

Ooi shares that sometimes he is unable to “determine what type, age, and the kind of survey/audit needed of the vessel” as “the information is only provided after the task is assigned.” As such, “I need to physically and mentally be prepared to attend to all the different types, age, kind of the survey/audit that I qualify (to partake in)”, he laments. 

The condition of the vessel also poses a challenge to his surveying work. “If the vessel is in good condition, then survey/audit will be smoothly finished. Otherwise, if there is equipment break down or unforeseen circumstance happening, the survey/audit will need more time to complete,” Ooi says. 

He adds that he would need to either approach the flag agreement for statutory items, wait for the ship crew to rectify or the owner to arrange for the technician to do repairs. 

Despite the challenges, Ooi shares that attending to different kinds of vessels and meeting people from different nationalities are some of the joys of working as a marine surveyor.  He says that being able to see different kinds and types of vessel is a “refresher” and it is aways interesting to meet “crew coming from different nationalities and background” to learn their “work, life, cultures, knowledges, experience as seafarers” and “try their food”.

Some notable career highlights

Ooi shares that being part of the team that completed two conversion projects – Kaombo Norte and Sul Project – for a duration four years, is one of his best experiences working as a marine surveyor. 

According to Ooi, this was an opportunity that was presented to him when he was still “fresh” at BV.  At that time, he only had ”little knowledge about the surveyor’s duty and responsibilities” and was “still under training by a lead surveyor” when BV assigned him to join the conversion project of an oil tanker to a floating production storage and offloading (FPSO). Ooi shares that he is grateful for the lessons and experiences he gained from the projects.

Ooi also shares that a career path of a marine surveyor starts with the position of a training surveyor.  It then progresses to surveyor, senior surveyor and finally lead surveyor.  Ooi says that the job scope remains more or less the same but with more managerial responsibility as one is promoted.

Ooi ends off by sharing some of the things he wish he knew before becoming a marine surveyor. He says that one should be familiar with class and statutory rules and regulations.  Ooi also emphasizes that marine surveying is a physically demanding job, and not just any other “normal desk bound job (9am to 5pm)”.

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