• Offshore extension

Safety without compromise

26 May 2018 - 15h46

Coexistence – a word that says a great deal about the numerous operations and various maritime resources that are working together at the site of the extension into the sea. Clearly, there is a growing risk due to the multiplication of these activities, which are often very different from one another and which within a site of a limited size mean that giant ships and divers, as well as a multitude of other participants of all kinds, must “cohabit”. This is why there is a pressing need to put carefully developed safety measures into place.

His name is Jean-Pierre Urfalino. His job? Body of water coordinator. In some way, he is the Bouygues TP Monaco orchestra’s conductor on the body of water. Newly retired, he has been recalled to carry out an exceptional mission because of his long experience in this field. He was formerly responsible for oil platforms scattered across the world and a team leader on numerous delicate jobs, but he has maintained his physical integrity despite these innumerable high-risk missions. And it has not been for nothing. His role in this exceptional job in the Principality is to manage and supervise all maritime activities and organize everything so that the workers, up to a hundred of whom are present on the body of water at the same time at peak times during the schedule, are guaranteed to work in safety.

A ballet of activities

“Several barges and vessels will be coming into a limited perimeter”, explains Jean-Pierre Urfalino. “Some of these devices have engines, like the 192-metrelong Simon Stevin, while others, such as the vibrocompaction barge, which will be moored with its own anchors, cannot move without the help of another vessel. We therefore developed anchorage plans, which were then approved by the Department of Maritime Affairs. This is not all, however. We are going to be working very near the Fairmont, for example, and all the non-self-propelled barges must have what we call in our jargon a permanent watchdog: that is, a tug that is ready to intervene to make them safe in various places in the event of changes in weather conditions. We have prepared orders of priority if the weather forces us to leave the body of water in order to be as efficient as possible”. For this purpose, a meeting of all the actors at the site is held in the offices of the Department of Maritime Affairs every Tuesday for an update and to anticipate the new measures to be put into effect to prevent problems. In addition, a smaller committee comes together at 5:00 p.m. every evening for a coordination meeting with plans and models. “Each time the Fall Pipe Vessel Simon Stevin is here, we have to stop nearly all our activities”, says Jean-Pierre Urfalino. “When it’s not here, we have defined periods of activity for each operator. This means that the Tiger is at the site from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. and that the Fabio Duo doesn’t return to the site before 4:30 p.m. This enables us to clear the working areas for our divers, who can therefore work in complete safety. Additionally, we are in permanent contact on land, either by telephone or social networks”.

The site and… its extras

Anticipation, organization and rigour are the coordinator’s keywords, especially as he still needs to coordinate this multitude of work areas with other activities outside the site, above all during the imminent summer season, in particular with the arrivals and departures of cruise ships as well pleasure boat activities. “Markings have been put in place, and we constantly monitor any intrusion by a boat into the site area”*, explains Jean-Pierre Urfalino. In order to do this, he has a prefabricated office overlooking the sea at the edge of Le Portier so that nothing that happens on the body of water escaped his attention. Finally, from his long experience, this “elder” also knows how important it is to take care to “age well”, and he offers a wide range of suggestions to his whole team to make them aware of the importance of good lifestyle practices. He may be a man who works in the shadows, but he is a key figure for the smooth functioning of the operations.

Georges-Olivier Kalifa

* A Sovereign Ordinance of 11th April regulates four areas for this purpose in order to make the maritime area around the site safe.

Photo © GOK


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