Guiding a Team: Igors Bistrovs Chief Engineer

With experience comes knowledge, and like many of our professionals they use that knowledge to encourage others in their field. Chief Engineer Igors Bistrovs is one of those professionals.

Following in his Father’s Footsteps

From an early age, Igors realised that his ambition was to work offshore, “my father was a sailor and when I told him that I wanted my future career to be at sea he recommended the role of engineer. His experience guided me to this decision, as he knew that if I changed my mind about working offshore then I could always be an engineer onshore. The job is very versatile, I can work anywhere and I can mend anything.”

Captain of the Engine Room

“The chief engineer is the leader, like the captain of the vessel I am the captain in the engine room. On a day-to-day basis, I would usually assist in the finding of spare parts then it’s just the general maintenance of the vessel. Throughout the day I manage the engine room and the crew. In a crew there will usually be four people including myself, the Chief Engineer, the Second Engineer, the Third Engineer and the Electrical Engineer or ETO.  As chief engineer I also help graduates who are new to the industry, just like my father I use my own experience to help them to find the best solutions in solving these problems. This not only helps them as an individual but also for learning how to work in the crew.”

Igors explains how he engages his crew in a regular routine when they board a new vessel. “The first thing we do is learn all of the systems in the engine room and inspect their condition. Usually the vessel will be fitted with new technology and so the first steps are just to familiarise yourself with the vessel. I’m also constantly learning about new pieces of equipment.  However, every time we learn how to use it they change it.”

Mental Preparation

Guiding the crew through all of the new systems is just the start of Igors' duties. “The crew has to be trained and informed about emergency procedures on each vessel. We practice this twice a month through a fire drill, this keeps all the members of the crew informed if this situation arises.”

Igors has gained a lot of experience working on Liquefied Petroleum Gas carriers (LPG). As being one of the more hazardous vessels in the industry, especially for the environment,  Igors explains his responsibilities in an emergency situation. “The first thing is to always avoid panic and instruct the crew as quickly and calmly as possible. If you keep the commands short then the problem can be solved faster. My duty is to control the risk of pollution and to make sure that this is checked regularly and is recorded in the report book. On the current ship that I am working on we have a new water system that cleans the used water and pumps it back overboard.”

Ambitions for the Future

With over 10 years of experience in the industry, Igor explains how some of the most memorable experiences in his career happen on a daily basis, “every day I have to be prepared to solve a problem  and I know that if I work hard at this then it will be resolved. I find a real sense of achievement from these scenarios.” Now that he has reached his dream of becoming a chief engineer, Igors' ambitions are focused on his crew’s mentality, “the most important thing to me about this job is having a good team that always has a positive attitude. Also when you have a good ship it makes the experience more worth while, ships are like cars when it’s good it’s good but when it’s bad you have to change it.”

It’s professionals like Igors that make the engine room team run smoothly, “an engineer should always have a theoretical outlook to their role and apply this to the different engines that they will encounter. Every day you must read all the documentation that is provided, as it will improve your knowledge and skills in your role. Finally, always pay attention, don’t come into the engine room drinking tea and talking about sports as no one will take you seriously.”