Checking out that ocean view! If the weather is good, this is Matthias Giebichenstein's everyday sight. He works six weeks as a senior DP operator on the Windea La Cour, on one of the world's largest wind farms. Then he goes ashore and takes on his alter ego, 'Chief Mad', as the singer of the hard rock band Magic Hum.
Matthias Giebichenstein is a contradiction in terms: In his spare time, he is the vocalist of 'Magic Hum'', together with his band mates Harry, Maddin and Tim Sen. When at work, Matthias transforms completely, entering a sit-down position in which he stays for 12 hours – every day – for six weeks! And he can’t even listen to music while working!
"No slamming or vibrations - people love it"
“Everybody works 12-hour-shifts. Mine starts at midnight and lasts till noon,” explains Matthias. “From midnight till 6 a.m., my main task as a DP (dynamic positioning) operator will be to keep the vessel on standby mode. I prefer to keep the stern towards the weather. If the weather is not too adverse, the ship stays on the spot with two thrusters running, which leads to substantial reduction in fuel consumption, instead of keeping the vessel on full DP. This is the very first vessel with the X-STERN aft solution. With the stern towards the weather, we experience absolutely no slamming and vibrations, not even when we are in transfer, and people love it. They get complete rest in between their maintenance shifts,” Matthias says.
Made a film to show his workplace
When working, Matthias needs to hear all the calls and commands given on the ship’s bridge, so he turns the music off. He loves music, though, and can’t live without it. He listens to German hard rock and stoner rock, but also digs southern U.S. blues and rock bands. When spotting that the ship owner, the Schulte Group, sported a photo and film contest for their employees, he made a film into which he introduced some of his favourite music. Unfortunately, the film was not the winner, but it gives a good impression on the tasks being performed by the Windea La Cour.
Watch it here:
One ship - 150 turbines
So, where exactly is Matthias working?
The offshore wind park Gemini, some 85 kilometres off the base of Eemshaven, the Netherlands, numbers 150 wind turbines, and is one of the world’s largest offshore wind farms. Gemini can provide over 785,000 households with renewable electricity, which leads to a reduction in CO₂ emissions of 1.25 million tonnes per year. Matthias works on the Service Operation Vessel (SOV), Windea La Cour, which transfers and accommodates the service technicians that have their work duties at the Gemini farm. This single vessel, with its 40 technicians and 20 crew members, is the only one performing maintenance of this farm. How do they achieve it?
Deploying teams of technical personnel
“From 6 in the morning we start deploying the teams of technicians. We start the day with a fixed schedule, deploying teams at a new turbine every 30 minutes. After having deployed all the teams, some hours have passed, and we start picking up teams that have completed their tasks and need to go to other turbines. The way we transfer the technicians by use of the Windea La Cour, is to connect our active motion-compensated Uptime gangway to the turbine’s TP (transition piece) platform. If the tasks pile up, we can also use our on-board Crew Transfer Vessel.”
It runs in the family
“Working at sea is a family tradition,” he says.
“My uncle, brother, father and grandfather and great grandfather were all sailors on military vessels. I worked in the military for 12 years, of which six years was on a ship. The next natural step was to go to nautical college. I have since worked on several vessels, and this is my first with the X-BOW, and, of course, the new X-STERN. Even in waves of 1.5 to 2 metres it is hard to notice that you’re on a boat, all is steady. And so silent! The only noise you hear is the air conditioning! I look forward to tomorrow morning, when I commence my next 6-week shift,” concludes Matthias Giebichenstein.