Following in his father’s footsteps, Chief Integrated Rating Ronald Gulliford, embarked on his seagoing career at the tender age of 16.
Ronald started off on cargo ships and then advanced to Anchor Handlers and he says that 33 years later, there are few vessel types he hasn’t worked on and this has largely been in South East Asia and his native Australia.
It was one of his recent deployments that was perhaps one of the biggest challenges, he says. Ronald was the permanent Chief Integrated Rating on the accommodation vessel POSH Arcadia, while it was supporting the FLNG Prelude project in North West Australia.
Ronald was onboard right from the beginning when they picked the POSH Arcadia up in Singapore, until the crew delivered her back to Singapore some 16 months later.
“For sure, with the POSH Arcadia the challenge was the number of helicopters we handled, given that the Prelude is 1 hour 45 minutes from the shore. More than 1,300 helicopters landed during the time, representing 60,000 passengers with 120,000 bags!
“Our team handled all the baggage and unloaded it each day. There was a lot of baggage and a lot of stairs. We certainly don’t need to go to the gym at the end of our shift!,” he jokes. And after a break, the team would then start to unload the cargo. “With some 650 people onboard, the food stores required was staggering.”
And given the sheer number of helicopter operations, Ronald is very proud that everything passed off safely, with no incidents.
As well as a trained Helicopter Landing Officer, Ronald is certified as an advanced rigger/tower crane operator and he has his Elevated Work Platform (EWP) certificate. Before joining the POSH Arcadia he attended a dedicated gangway operation and maintenance course in Norway.
Ronald and his team were also responsible for maintaining all the safety equipment aboard, including the lifeboats.
Maintaining safety equipment
He says the variety of tasks and vessels is something he enjoys the most about his job and also why he likes working for Atlas Professionals. “Whether it is drilling ships, accommodation vessels, Anchor Handlers, seismic vessels or dredgers, I like the different challenges each vessel brings. As well as the wide range of vessels I get to work on at Atlas, the company has a safety culture with a high standard and the office crew are always there if any issues arise which I appreciate.”
He goes on to say that in his job there is no such thing as a typical day. “You never get bored,” he emphasises.
“We may start with the helicopters, then move on to the cargo operations and unloading and back loading the supply vessels. We also attend to all the planned maintenance of the safety equipment. In between, we deal with the garbage, which is very strictly segregated. There is always ongoing maintenance to do. On the POSH Arcadia, we would hold the morning meeting but it always changes as the day goes by. But I have a very good crew which is a big help.”
Now he is with a ‘new’ team on the seismic survey/research vessel Ramform Hyperion. But he laughs that most people are from the POSH Arcadia so they all know each other very well. “This vessel is very modern, with all the latest technology and I believe the most comfortable vessel I have ever been on – it even has its own basketball court.”
Training the new generation
Three decades on, Ronald still has a passion for being on deck rather than ‘sitting at a desk pushing buttons’. “I enjoy physical work and helping to train youngsters by showing them how to do things safely.”
Ronald is very proud to have seen how the industry has evolved since he started his seafaring career, having worked in all the fields in Australia and seen them grow over the years. “When I go back out to the offshore fields, I can think that I was involved right from the very beginning, when the rig was there drilling for oil or gas, and now there is a huge platform!”