Love Hate and Good

You love them or you hate them. To some they are objects of majestic beauty, to others carbuncles on the horizon. In one form or another man has used wind for power for around seven thousand years, but it is a fresh wind that blows today in a world hungry for power and concerned about the environmental price.

There’s an airy freshness to this issue, half the stories are about the wind turbine industry; it’s exciting position in the States onshore and offshore, where the Global Wind Organisation sees the future and a tiny look at a small island that is self -sufficient, energy-wise.

Over the past six years eSea has been blessed with a number of heart-rendering stories. Like Ngoc the Vietnamese boy refugee who rose to become a Maersk captain, like the horrific tale of being a ship’s officer one moment, to spending nearly two years as a hostage. We add to that list in this issue with a story from the ski slopes of the Tyrol. Fortunate circumstance brought Morten to a man in grave distress. So grave he was technically dead. What unfolded was life-changing for both men.

On a lighter note we join Michelle, for whom the world is her oyster. Most Americans don’t travel, two thirds can’t, they don’t have passports. Michelle helps make up the difference, she’s now visited almost one third of the world’s countries. And there is Kim. Summer is the time for many students between school and the greater life beyond. Kim recalls how he ignored his father’s efforts to get him into a ‘sensible job’ and now has a mind full of memories and experiences he wants to pass on.

On a lighter note we join Michelle, for whom the world is her oyster. Most Americans don’t travel, two thirds can’t, they don’t have passports. Michelle helps make up the difference, she’s now visited almost one third of the world’s countries. And there is Kim. Summer is the time for many students between school and the greater life beyond. Kim recalls how he ignored his father’s efforts to get him into a ‘sensible job’ and now has a mind full of memories and experiences he wants to pass on.

Richard Lightbody


Sixty of the Most
Precious Minutes of
Two Lives

Twenty years after he learnt something, Morten finds himself in the right place at the right time.

The helicopter lifted, blasting snow towards the gathered faces. As it rose over the high Tirol Morten looked up, all he was left with was the name Gerd, and a hanging uncertainty about the frailty or sustainability of human life.

Morten Kaiser’s own life had been punctuated by events and moments that few experience or even understand, but the last sixty or so minutes had been amongst the most intense. On the last day of their Austrian skiing holiday he and his partner Stine had just come down one of the two glacial runs at Sölden and were heading to the lift to do the other before checking out and heading back home to Denmark. By the ski lift a number of people had gathered round a fallen skier. He was on the first day of his vacation and, at this point in time, it seemed likely to be his last.

Morten has spent his adult life being trained and training others, first as a Danish army officer with tours in Kosovo and Afghanistan and more lately as the head of Maersk Training’s People Skills department.

‘It had been a very rough year and I’d been appraising it from a professional point of view, asking myself what was I actually achieving. Did it make sense to spend so much effort to travel globally to train and mentor people and organisations? All of a sudden there was this moment when things that I’d learnt over 20 years ago clicked into action and feelings I’d currently thought about totally evaporated.’
The months spent learning advanced emergency medical aid and the years spent passing it on to others triggered in with muscle memory and Morten found himself at the centre of one man’s personal crisis. His anonymous skiing buddy said he was called Gerd, he was German and in his sixties. The two had been skiing around the lift hut, each taking a different route. When Gerd failed to appear, his friend skied round the back side of the hut to find him motionless in the snow. These where the only facts that Morten had, other than that the prone man had no pulse and as he lay in the NATO recovery position, his still eyes stared out into nothingness. Seven or eight other skiers looked on, frozen in movement, frozen in effective action.


The friend had his hand on Gerd’s shoulder and initially resisted Morten’s suggestion to roll him onto his back. ‘I told him he needed to step back a bit because I wanted to put him on his back and his friend said “no need to, I put him into this NATO position” and I said if he stays there he is going to stay like that forever because he is dead, there is no pulse, no breathing, so we need to act now, we need to do something.’
Stine had, immediately they’d seen the prone body, headed off to contact the ski patrol for help. If they hadn’t stopped to take some last day pictures they would have been ahead of Gerd’s collapse – fate had placed them in the now critical situation.

‘I think there were three or four seconds where I had a little bit of doubt, is it because it is so cold that I can’t feel his pulse or isn’t there any pulse? But there was absolutely nothing. I knew that the guy was dead. So his friend and I rolled him over and at time one of the guys from the ski area arrived and a couple of others on snowmobiles and one had a very big First Aid rucksack with a lot of stuff. He took a pair of scissors out and cut open Gerd’s jacket so that just the bare body was exposed.’

Finding the pressure point on Gerd’s chest, Morten started to give rapid rhythm pushes, 120 a minute and then after two or three minutes one of the lift guys, followed by another off piste skier, would take over. The trio rotated whilst a guy from “pistenrettung” (the skiing First Aid Team) kept putting oxygen into the stricken man using a tube down his throat and a hand bulb pump. A young doctor and some paramedics joined the scene and approved of the action being taken. Gerd was attached to monitors, a drip put in his neck and they prepared to give him an AED shock.

The AED works by sensing the electricity going through the heart and then gives a huge boost at a precise moment. The monitors showed no electricity, no life. They gave it one shot in the hope of triggering something, but the monitors remained on zero level. Morten and the other three resumed the rhythmic pressure and pumping of oxygen.


When an emergency helicopter landed about 100 metres away Morten and the others lay on top of Gerd to protect him, but the blast of snow and ice still hit and clung to his face. ‘If he was in a bad state before the helicopter he was really bad afterwards. It looked as if he’d just been pulled out of a fridge.’

‘After 30-35 minutes the young doctor, now in charge, asked “has anyone seen what happened?” No one had. He then said “we call it off in two minutes. We stop in two minutes.” At that point I was actually doing the heart massage thing and I said to the doctor, I don’t want to challenge your authority, you are the doctor, but when I arrived what I was told was that the two friends drove left and right of the lift and the guy found him in perhaps half a minute. So he was unobserved for half a minute and he put him into this NATO position. From that time it took a maximum of a minute before I started heart massage, so it could be a three minute period without oxygen and it is minus 5 degrees which works in favour

of him because we can endure a longer time without oxygen in cold.’
‘So, I was having this conversation while I was massaging and then the doctor started to check a lot of papers. He was pretty cool and had a good overview, but I think he did it to maybe give it a few more minutes and then his decision would probably have been the same, that we would call it off. He was afraid that Gerd had been without oxygen too long which could have caused brain damage. I was trying to persuade him that could have been the case, but not within three minutes and definitely not with -5 degrees.’
‘While I was doing that and hoping that something would happen that would change the position, all of a sudden I felt something. With two of my fingers pushing his heart I felt something different from what I’d been feeling the last 30 minutes. I said to the doctor to look at the monitor. He was still checking his papers and then I looked at Gerd and his chest, the lower part, started to move, below his lower rib and I started sensing something and I shouted to the doctor “check the ******* monitor there is something happening here.” He was still busy with his papers and then he looked up took a glance at the monitor and threw his papers away and said “what the ****, he’s alive we’ve got him!”’

Chopper or Road Means Life over Death To drive to the clinic in Innsbruck means down a valley and up a valley, a distance of 87 kilometers and with luck, one hour fifteen minutes. Perhaps too long for the stricken skier to hold on. The air helicopter cuts the distance to 45 kms with a flight time of about 13 minutes.


All present rubbed his body to warm him and within minutes stretchered Gerd off to the helicopter and after all the mayhem and people Morten was left alone with one of the lift guys. They cleaned up the place, there was quite a bit of debris, alloy blankets and the like and then when the lift guy left, Morten was suddenly alone.

‘Before the holiday I had been exhausted workwise, needed a vacation, quite beaten, considering what was worthwhile and then for me the week’s super skiing and pressures of work were put into perspective by this one incident. What had happened was surreal, but it was actually a sense-making experience. We quite often work with leaders, managers and we don’t really know if it makes any difference for them. The experience was quite rewarding. It was not about me or the other guys. It is about Gerd, but it was quite rewarding to be able to help and to experience on what you have trained and taught for so long actually really works. We train for something that hopefully we’re not going to need , but when I came across this guy it was almost second nature.’

The parallel with training business leaders continued for weeks after the event as Morten wondered what happened to Gerd, did he make it? ‘It’s a bit like the leaders I train. Quite often, most of the time, you don’t know if it actually “worked”, if they got better and the training advice actually lead somewhere or that they were just fine whilst it lasted. Measuring return on investment is most often extremely difficult. In this case it wasn’t too complicated.’

Gerd’s mate had asked for Morten’s business card, a nice irony as the vacation was about forgetting work and realigning, without one he wrote down his number and the friend put it in his pocket. Perhaps in the confusion he’d lost it, or understandably enough was focused on his friend’s recovery, but he never heard from him and Morten was left in an intolerable void of not knowing the outcome of that hour on the slopes. Like a book with the last chapter missing, there was no happy or sad ending, no closure.


But there was, Gerd was airlifted to a hospital in Innsbruck. With the aid of Google Earth we determined that the Tirol Kliniken was the only one with a helipad. They were able to confirm that he was admitted to the cardiologic emergency room, stabilized and ten days later transferred home to Germany in a cardio-stable condition. More than that they could not say because of patient confidentiality.
‘Knowing makes a big personal difference to me. It inspires me to continue to train and mentor people because it seems to matter to train and prepare for worst-case situations, even if most of us never get to put it into practice and test our ability to act and apply what we practice. I remember from my army days, each drop of sweat spilled during training save a drop of blood during combat.’

‘Today in Maersk Training it’s not too different, we strive to live by the motto “training to be prepared”. Ironically meeting the two German skiers and helping them gave me new energy and a renewed sense of making a difference. I hope that the three of us can one day share a beer and discuss, then even maybe take a few turns together in Sölden.’


Morten was extremely reticent about telling the story, and wouldn’t have done so without confirmation that Gerd had made it through. After reading every word above he asked to include the paragraph below.
A last but important thanks: I would like to extend a special thanks to the extremely competent people at Sölden ski-lift & rescue team/helicopter crew for a formidable and admirable effort and their daily efforts to make us feel safe while exercising our passion in high alpine terrain. And an additional thanks to the people in The Tirol Clinic who ensured the safe return to life.

Chopper or Road Means Life over Death To drive to the clinic in Innsbruck means down a valley and up a valley, a distance of 87 kilometers and with luck, one hour fifteen minutes. Perhaps too long for the stricken skier to hold on. The air helicopter cuts the distance to 45 kms with a flight time of about 13 minutes.

Update: Gerd becomes Georg

It would be over ten weeks before the next instalment of the story. Morten answered his mobile. At the other end introducing himself by name for the first time, was Alexander, Gerd’s friend, giving an update on Gerd who turned out to be called Georg Kopf. In the heat of the moment the preciseness of names had been lost.

Alexander updated Morten. Georg had spent ten days in a coma in the Innsbruck Clinic before being transferred 225 kms to a coma wake up recreational centre in Friedrichshafen in southern Germany. Confined to a special chair for well over a month he was now walking, speaking, running, able to do maths, make coffee and do all the things we take for granted. The German now wants to meet the Dane who saved his life. Apparently the beer is on Georg.

Simulators for the sick
& simulators that make you sick

Hospital team gets hands-on experience of a very different type of simulation

They were all part of the medical world, though with diverse and different roles, yet for a few moments they were joined by the potential for a common medical feeling, a mild form of nausea. In the distance ahead, the horizon rocked and rolled. Standing on the bridge of a huge container ship they knew that the world they were in was false, but the feeling of potential seasickness, very real.

The medical teams from the university hospitals of Aalborg and Odense were at Maersk Training’s simulation complex, MOSAIC, in Svendborg to look at how one part of the non-public sector uses simulation as a major tool in educating people. Their tour started in the full mission bridge A, a ship’s bridge that, at the press of a button, can go from calm to hurricane, from supply vessel to tanker.

If there were one single thing that made the medical teams think they were in a different world when visiting, it wasn’t the realistic motions of the container ship steered by logistics manager Lars Dyremose, nor the slick crane maneuvers of nurse Anja Jelk as she sweetly lifted a container off a supply vessel, but the way that the facility had dedicated areas for training. A whole complex with one designated aim, to train and improve skills.

The use of simulators for training in hospitals is important, but the way they employ them is very different to those that are the mainstay of Maersk Training’s learning experiences. ‘We have to use areas to train in that we use for other primary purposes, like surgery or admissions,’ says Dr Mikkel Friis, the Director of NordSim, the department that trains both simple and complex skills for the benefit of patient safety. There are pluses and minuses to being forced to use actual hospital areas. On the positive side it eases the transition from simulation to reality, but using active resources makes every lecture vulnerable to cancellation when there’s a true medical case to be deal with.

‘It is very important to make a safe environment for the student, for the participants, because then they open up and they are more open for failures and it is alright to talk about the failures afterwards. Safe environment first and then try to put on pressure,’ Christina Petersen, training manager at Odense University Hospital points out.

‘It is very important to make a safe environment for the student, for thte participants, because then they open up and they are more open for failures and it is alright to talk about the failures afterwards


It’s not just facilities that can cause disruption, a team project can be negated because one individual, like an anesthetist, is called away to an emergency or cover. Dr Friis’s view of simulation is broad. ‘We’d like to be able to create, say an accident on a highway. A situation where you don’t have access to all equipment you’d like and you have the noise of traffic going by. So how do you communicate? It is not the place to learn how to get the message across in a clear and concise manner. Just as on the bridge of a ship or in a driller’s cabin, you need to call upon skills refined in training.

The more complex medical simulators feature ‘dummy patients’ linked to computers which allow students to make diagnoses. ‘We have various patient-like dolls and they can be low or high tech, depending on how realistic you want them to be. It depends on how much experience you have had with simulation before; if you don’t have much experience of simulation the doll has to be more realistic. But if you are used to simulation then you can go with a doll that is low tech because it is actually the instructors and educators that set the scene,’ adds Trine Christensen, NordSim’s Aalborg-based manager.

Financing training is a major factor in what is achievable, especially in the public sector. With Maersk Training, the simulators are constantly kept up to date, but with hospitals there are many other demands on budgets. Mikkel sees a huge difference between American and Danish hospitals, essentially the difference between private and public.

‘We can definitely tell when people need to go on a course, need to know how to communicate. But it is very difficult to say what the cost is in terms of return on investment. The US model is different, so much is driven by insurance that they want to make sure all their doctors and staff are up to date. They don’t want a bad reputation or have to pay a settlement. My impression is that this means they are more likely to use money on training,’ says Mikkel.


Even within the public sector in Denmark the funding for training is not universally the same. In some hospitals each department funds its own training and some, like Aalborg, have an overall budget from which each department can request training.

You might think that hospitals are the ideal location to generate a ROT, a return on investment. The old joke, ‘we don’t hide our mistakes, we bury them’ doesn’t seem to apply; perhaps, as in the US, it’s because there’s no pressure from insurance companies. Training in Denmark is seen as important, but still a nice extra that can be set aside when the pressure’s on. Back on the tour there was no hiding the amount of money spent of some of the world’s leading simulation technology, but the party of seven were not envious, just realistic. In a world of simulation, this was a different world to theirs. Where there was a strong connection was with the human factor. On a drill floor, in a bridge or operating theatre the effectiveness of the equipment is secondary to the people using it. How they communicate is vital and there were parallels in training techniques, the use of self-development and the value of reflective debriefings. People talk about medics having a ‘bedside manner’ but the most important communication can be the team huddled around the patient.

How operating teams work today is very different to when Mikkel started twenty years ago. Then, scalpel in hand, the surgeon was God, surrounded by minions most of whom too afraid to speak up even if they saw something that was not as it should be. Today through training and cultural changes, things are very different and not just in the theatre. As Trine pointed out ‘people google everything, so they think they know the treatment by the time they arrive at the hospital, and they are not afraid to tell you.’


In Greek naus is ship, and that is where nausea comes from, although it is connected to all forms of stomach complains which trigger the likelihood of vomiting.

The medics on Danish flagged ships are well-used to simulators, of all sorts. At The Center for Maritime Health Service on Fanø they have advanced facilities where the designated person, it could be anyone on board, is introduced to Charlie and Bravo, two very sophisticated dummies. The medics are captains, AB’s, stewards anyone willing and thought capable of tackling such a massive task. They are not doctors or nurses, but they are the eyes, ears and hands for a 24 hour professional medical team based at South- West Jutland Hospital in Esbjerg. No matter where they are, local seas, distant oceans, the onboard para medics can contact Radio Medical. At the sharp end of the operation tthey are equipped with a specially written medical guidebook. Together the team in Esbjerg and onboard medic tackle anything from a bruise to an amputation.

Photographs of medical simulator courtesy of Sea Health and Welfare.

The Wind Era

History shows that empires have a ‘use by date’. In terms of power, the #1 spot has seen steam, gas, coal, oil and nuclear. Can wind ever have its day?

On Saturday, December 21, 2013, Copenhagen under clear skies rarely got any warmer than the butter in the fridge, the wind outside blew at a steady 15 kph, and Denmark became the first entire country on planet earth to produce more electricity from wind turbines than it could use. In fact for one hour the energy created, peaked at 135% of the demand.

It’s an achievement which sums up the pluses and minuses of renewable energy. As Jakob Bjørn Nielsen, Global Wind Organisation’s Senior Training Advisor, puts it, ‘What is it that we need today? We don’t need energy, we have enough. We just have different types of energy and we have some energy that is better than others.’
What happened in Denmark that December day was, while wind produced more electricity than was sufficient, traditional fossil burning generators continued to pump power into the system so that the excess from the air was gridded off to Sweden. It’s an achievement that has since been repeated.

Jakob expands, ‘My point is we have enough energy, but what is it that we don’t have today? We don’t have time, that’s what we are lacking as a society. If we connect that to wind-power, what is it we want to achieve? Well, we are struggling to find enough technicians, we are struggling with the cost of energy because all these things take time and manpower, which equals money.’

Jakob’s primary role is to help establish and maintain global training standards for the windpower industry. GWO members are among the world’s largest manufacturers and owners, who use the standards as a contractual expectation up and down the supply chain.

Jakob gives a GWO insider’s view of the energy revolution. We have, he says, reached the point where renewables have joined the big league, in the past ten years the price of generation has dropped from €150pMW/h to mid-€40’s. This is a 66% reduction which is wonderful long-term news for consumers, but it causes a rethink in terms of investment and payback. Once the price dropped below €70 it became cheaper to produce than nuclear power.

Big has just got bigger.

The turbines in the new Krieger’s Flak field in the Baltic have a
blade span of 190 metres and the box on the top weighs an almighty 400 tons.


‘I believe there are two major bottlenecks in the industry; first and foremost, how to deal with excess power, secondly how can the increasingly powerful turbines be connected effectively to local grids which were not designed to cope with such power,’ says Jakob.

The onshore host grids, that for a century have been at the very end of the power line are suddenly the fulcrum point that must deal with a considerable load and often aren’t up to it. It’s a problem specific to older traditional grids in Europe, particularly in the UK.

The distance between the source and the user can greatly diminish the power through a poor conversion rate. This is a challenge which will grow as offshore sites become beyond-the-horizon sites, windfarms and floating devices being placed far out in the oceans – Jakob believes the floating island concept is a headline grabber and not necessarily the immediate future which he sees as utilizing the current market possibilities.

The other challenge is the most obvious. That of storage. ‘Building a battery for a wind power site is not really happening,’ says Jakob. ‘There is technology out there that in the future could be used – there’s hydro power which is quite hard to implement in a lot of places because you have to have a hydro plant – technically you use the electricity to pump water up to bring back down again. It’s crude solution. Another solution is using compressed air,’ says Jakob.


Big has just got bigger. The turbines in the new Krieger’s Flak field in the Baltic have a blade span of 190 metres and the box on the top weighs an almighty 400 tons. The whole turbine essentially comes in three bits, the tower, the generator station and the blades. What Jakob sees is not a slowing of this growth but an increase in how much is prepared off site.

‘What costs one euro in the factory will cost you €10 at preassembly and again that will cost you €100 offshore. So the better you are at the factory or preassembly, the less it will cost you overall. It all depends on where you are and a huge part of that cost is manpower, transportation, and logistics. To ensure everything is as close to operational locally too when leaving the factory as possible, the workforce and training needs of the industry must also be delivered.


Jakob puts North America at or near the top of the current global growth areas for windpower development . ‘Onshore in the US is not a new market, but the market is expanding now so quickly that the fastest growing job title in the US is Wind Turbine Technician. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ jobs outlook for 2016- 2026 is for a 96% growth, which for a role where median pay is $53,880 per year represents an attractive career for many people. Then, with the recent capacity auctions for offshore wind announced off the US eastern seaboard, it’s clear North America will have a huge demand for skilled workers.

‘This is interesting from a training perspective because an increasing number of training providers are becoming GWO certified to accommodate demand. There are 250 sites in 135 countries today. Ten of these are in the US and Canada, with many more expected over the coming years.’

Here and there sets different paradigms. Wind is the most variable of commodities. For centuries it dictated trade, now it is a serious contributor to gross national products. But both the wind and where it blows creates unique situations. In the US they can move installation vessels up from the Gulf but the water conditions with the Atlantic swell creates a whole new ball game.

In Brazil’s Rio Grande do Norte they enjoy probably the best and most consistent wind on earth, the roads are mountainous – just try and ship a 95 metre blade along them. Then there’s the generator box and as Jakob says the trend is for them to be factory assembled to them being in near operational mode.

So it is likely to be horses for courses, creating demands on the workforce. The workforce itself differs greatly wherever in the world you are. Divergent educational standards hit the most sought-after staff, the technician. In essence the wind technician is a super electrician, but in the US the job of electrician is not a protected job title and the journeyman electrician is a long established product of the tradesman system. In many countries across Europe the electrician is a recognized title and demands a lot more theory in the training process, which is important in diagnosing wind turbines. In fact in Europe the working population is fairly mobile. The demand for electricians in Denmark is at a premium. Up to now the shortage gap in western Europe has been filled by eastern European technicians, but with the growth of the industry, in countries like Poland, means that that well of talent is drying up.

”Take your car, put it into the North Sea and then blow 300 kph of wind on it for ten years and see what happens.”


If you look back twenty years the wind industry was exciting, but many already thought that the size of turbines had peaked. In the States they were proudly talking about the world’s largest windfarm coming on lin ein Iowa – the turbines at 750kW would produce a total of 193 megawatts. It would take almost fifteen of those turbines to match the output today of a single new generation generator. In Wind Power Today they raved on about the diameter of the blades covering 42 metres, today the big boys hit 190.

Also in 1998 they were boasting lifetime guarantees on the blades, a flawed promise which has created a whole new demand for blade technicians.
Jakob looks at the demands of today’s blades, ‘If you take some of the largest blades today the tip speed at normal full production, is around 6-12 metres per second, meaning the tips move at 300 kphs. Imagine a blade doing that for ten years, in all weathers. Take your car, put it into the North Sea and then blow 300 kph of wind on it for ten years and see what happens. The industry has to continually adapt to ensure operations and maintenance are up to the job’

So what of the future? Jakob who earlier made the point that it is not power we need but time so that we can do things properly. How does he see that being created? ‘The industry will develop smarter systems, de-centralized intelligence, turbines capable of self-diagnostics and preventative.

Is that the end of the technician? ‘No, just an end to a certain type of hands-on technician,’ says Jakob ‘The next generation will concentrate on preventive maintenance – predicting the problems before they develop. It’s like radar technicians for the air force and civil aviation – you can’t afford for there to be no radar, so they fix things by calculated replacement. If a part is expected to last a certain time then you change it, regardless of whether or not it was still functioning perfectly.’

He also sees vital technological development, not on the blades or generators, but on super conductors to ease the twin problems of delivery and connectivity. Regarding the most obvious advance, the size of blades, Jakob says that experts say there is a limit, but as the past has shown, ‘that remains to be seen.’

“The industry will develop smarter systems, de-centralized intelligence, turbines capable of self-diagnostics and preventative.”


‘The future will not reduce the need for technicians, just switch to the need for a different type. It will be less brute force and more computer savvy, a bit like motor mechanics today,’ says Jakob, the analogy between a 1960’s showroom beauty and today’s car being a particularly accurate one for the way the industry has technically grown.

Jakob also sees the role of the technician changing due to the huge reduction in the cost of power, some companies might work with smaller teams, two people rather than three. However the biggest change will come in a swing away from company and turbine specific training.

‘The reduction in the cost of energy has meant cutbacks, and one of the first is always training. Companies won’t fund internal training centres.’
What they will do is to ‘nudge’ the training market through organisations, like GWO, to get fuller courses earlier in the employment process to cover more than the basics and then ‘top up’ the successful candidates with company specific information.

This opens the door of opportunity to training establishments to pick up the ball and run with it. It also means that the next generation of turbine engineers will have more flexibility in who they target to work for. In terms of safety and construction the wind industry has taken much from oil and gas, that comparison is stretching to manpower.

Many major car manufacturers have pinned their colours to the environmental flagpole. Jakob believes his current car will be run into the ground and that his next will not rely on fossil fuels. We are beyond the turning point, the reliance on petro-chemicals. The last quarter in the UK saw diesel car sales fall by 25%. The sheikhs are shaking, is the age of oil withering in the wind?

The New Trade Winds

Accreditation helps fill global gaps

They may just be signed papers, but they are special signed papers, they represent a significant global connection; like fitting pieces into a jigsaw that reveal the picture, even if they don’t complete it. Accreditation to conduct Global Wind Organisation courses by Maersk Training centres in Rio de Janeiro and Chennai puts a huge chunk of the world into the frame. The two centres, separated by a third of the world, share, quite appropriately, what the old wooden-masted ships called the Trade Winds.

Everywhere gets some wind, but it is the countries that have a constant supply that have woken up to the true value of renewable energy. It is a global industry requiring global policing and that is why the GWO, a non-profit organisation made up of turbine manufacturers and owners, strives to set standards to help insure that every aspect of design, construction and operation is done in a safe and secure manner. The cornerstone to this is training. There are 248 accredited centres across the world.

Maersk Training, itself a global entity, is well placed to service the industry. It has accredited centres – in Denmark which leads the world in terms of producing almost 40% of the country’s needs, in the UK where they are sixth in terms of capacity, in India where they are fourth in capacity and installation and in Brazil where they were fifth in installation in 2016, but have the highest output per turbine. That is in the north east of the country at Serra Branca where they call the place ‘wind generators heaven’.

Wind power in Brazil has been a bit of a saviour. The first turbine only went up in 1992, but a decade later a shortage of rain disrupted power supplies as the country’s main power source, hydro-electricity, couldn’t match demand and caused the government to seek alternatives. At Serra Branca they found winds with a higher than average speed and relatively little variation in direction. Today in Brazil the potential output is 39 per cent of the country’s electrical needs. In the United States the figure is under six per cent.

There’s a slightly different geographical strategy with Rio and Chennai. Both will aim to supply training to an entire continent, South America and Asia, but whereas Rio will initially concentrate on a very active Brazilian market, Chennai is already helping further afield. Within weeks of accreditation they conducted a course in Thailand for Vestas and they are on the doorstep of the world’s leading wind power generator, China. The accreditations are for on site, on shore turbines.

The GWO stamp for Rio and Chennai means they join Newcastle, Aberdeen and Esbjerg in training the four basic modules, working at heights, fire awareness, manual handling (risk assessment) and first aid. They also mean that there are just a few pieces of the training jigsaw to find.

Island of Power and potatoes

One of the proposed futuristic ideas about the positioning of wind turbines is to build an island of power. They already have one, it is called Samsø.

In 1997, Samsø won a govern-ment competition to become a model renewable energy community. Twenty-one years on the population of a little under 4,000, is entirely free of the oil and coal that had to be imported from the mainland. Up until recently the island’s main export was agricultural. It is famed for its potatoes which are marketed under the island’s name, but now they also export surplus power. While the rest of Denmark takes a figure approaching half of its power from the wind, the 21 turbines on and off shore and funded by the islanders themselves, are in pay-back mode.

Samsø’s Energy Academy – since 2007 it has been the central point of the island’s desire to become totally fossil free.

Samsø has established itself as the ‘renewable energy island’ and from June to August they even organize tours built entirely around that theme. The renewables don’t stop at the turbines. Homes use straw burned in a central heating system and more and more vehicles run on locally grown and produced biofuel. Threequarters of the heating is covered by solar and biomass energy.

They’ve even opened an Energy Academy in Ballen, which has a visitor education centre. The academy’s working towards making Samsø 100% fossil fuel free.

West Wind

The changing face, and role, of the American prairie

There’s a new breed of cow- boys out there in the western plains of Texas. They don’t look for strays and mustangs, they have a toolbox instead of a lasso, a ATV instead of a horse and they know the precise location of every job they are expected to do. They are the wind turbine technicians. But there is a problem in generating not the electricity, but the right sort of technicians.

It’s a relatively new industry and like any growth industry it has its problems. One of the major ones is with the number of training facilities that have sprung up to supply the talent. They may provide adequate training, but what they do, according to is to pollute the financial hopes of the technicians. There is a degree of confusion over roles and titles and why a wind turbine technician is paid more than an installation or maintenance technician. They train, they leave, they demand $27 an hour, they are rejected, they give up.


It’s a situation that Mads Thiel, a Dane working in Houston, knows only too well. He’s a managing partner at OMNE, who’ve been taking at holistic look at the needs of the industry, from construction and commissioning to technical troubles and solution services. These include manpower and as a means of establishing a basic level of competency they don’t consider anyone as a service technician who hasn’t had at least a year’s experience with the wind industry.

As a starting point that weeds out those directly out of training schools with dollars in their eyes and those who might find the whole work experience too alien. It’s a hard job in terms of what demands it puts on family life. It is lonely and, despite working in small teams, quite solitary. It requires someone who can work in a team, but also might have to work for hours alone. A bit like the cowboys who used to roam the country for days on end.

Wind in Texas passed a significant landmark in December – for the first time turbine power had a greater capacity than coal. A new 155 MW project came online at the same time as older coal-fired power plants closed. By the end of this year the gap in capacity will have broadened so that wind is 60% greater. Capacity is different to generation. Coal still outperformed wind in 2017, generating 31% of the state’s needs to wind’s 17% – but by 2019 that will have been reversed.

Wind has changed the look of the prairies – no wide open spaces, in many places there are literally hundreds of turbines in every direction. The old image of the creaking oil pumps stretching out into the distance as a symbol of power self-efficiency, might soon be overhauled. In ten years the Roscoe Wind Farm, which started on an old cotton field 320 kilometers west of Fort Worth, has grown to be the size of Manhattan. Even here the rate of progress has left the development behind. The largest turbines generate 2.3MW, today they are about a quarter the size in terms of output of the current generation. The new big boys on the block in Europe generate 11MW and the turbine house itself weighs 400 tons.

Waiting for the Wave of

Planning on planning a future in US waters

The North American wind industry is large and will be huge – the map of the states that have near perfect conditions looks like a map of the Civil War, the North winning, the Old South being virtually barren of turbines because of relatively unsuitable conditions. However it is the New South that has so far benefited from wind generation technology the most. Texas is top of the pile, so much so that if it were a country it would be the world’s sixth biggest producer.

By 2050 the US expects to get one third of its power from land-based renewable sources, but it is offshore that the next big jump will come. Getting ready for it is Norwegian company Fred Olsen. They are one of the pioneers in European waters in erecting turbine towers and now they have turned their eyes to the waters off Massachusetts. Here in the North Atlantic are conditions matched nowhere else on earth. Great winds, but also great installation and maintenance issues. Rule #1 in the exploration game, is whatever preparation you can do in advance, do it.

Under the leadership of Chief Commercial Officer, Jan Jorgensen, a party of interested professionals, captains from Fred Olsen, US Coastguards, the American Pilots Association and representatives of regulatory bodies meet for a week at Maersk Training’s MOSAIC complex. Here under the guidance of two Maersk Training maritime instructors, they discussed and tried out simulated maneuvers to gauge how best to go about working out of ports like New Bedford.


As Jan explained ‘Our philosophy is that through dialogue with the different stakeholders we can risk mitigate a lot of the uncertainties that we have by coming down to facts. This was set up for the pilots, to give them confidence that it can be done we just need to put certain measures into place. For use it is important that we do things up front, plan for it. You can’t just show up and fail.’

The challenges are considerable and not confined to the North Atlantic swell. It is a very different set-up, or lack of it. The Americans are new to marine operations offshore, there’s no Dynamic Positioning capabilities, no harbour infrastructure to look after what they build.

Add to this the Jones Act which is approaching its centenary but is still as potent as ever in protecting American shipping interests. The major problem with using US flagged vessels is that those vessels don’t exist and consequently there are no harbours to facilitate them even if they did and no skilled crews to man them. The Europeans are light years ahead in technological development so for the moment the future is staring the Americans in the face, but they can’t reach out and touch. When they can Fred Olsen wants to be in a position to be part of the action, hence the fact finding, mind opening workshop in Svendborg.

Being behind is not necessarily a huge drawback since in terms of evolution the US offshore industry can pick up on designed and tested technology. ‘They are pretty smart, Europe has spent ten years to get to where we are now and now the curve is flattening out on cost. We still develop, but we have taken the big chunks off it now and they can jump in on that curve on a high level, a good thing for them. The big different is that in the North Sea you have the North Sea weather in the Atlantic you have the Atlantic swell, much worse than the waves we know, everything is moving up and down very slowly.’

The four plus days of talking were eye openers, but for Fred Olsen it was much more, it was stakeholder management. ‘For us it is about maintaining old/good relationships and they have given us a lot of feedback, a lot of help when we had to go to the US first time, so we also need to support them moving on. We don’t know if we’ll get the job, but for sure this is a step forward making sure that there will be jobs over there,’ says CCO Jan.

Let’s get physical

New hands-on equipment mimics real life, simulators create the greater picture and participants do the rest

We’ve long recognized about the value of simulator training, how much more sticks in the mind if you can live through a scenario. It is the perfect learning and development tool, especially if you work in an environment that is governed largely by computers. But what happens if there is a marriage between screen-driven decision making and an action that requires some physical intervention?

The answer is the new platform area at Maersk Training in Svendborg where the realities of gas and crude oil are replaced by compressed air and vegetable oil. Here the pipes and values respond to actions in the same way that they would on a production platform, only that if the wrong sequence is carried out, then the lesson learnt is positive.

As one Offshore Installations Manager put it, It is extremely difficult to sit in a chair and learn a procedure. It is much easier to learn with the hands.’
The compact production area is generic, the learning procedure more about putting a ridged process into the hands and heads of the participants. Working in small team it also gives them an opportunity they probably would never enjoy onboard, communicating with colleagues, developing common best practices.

There are six courses training from introduction to basic and from hands-on process safety to an operator’s course, the advanced operator’s and finally emergency response training.

Around the World
in 80 Ways

Globetrotter Michelle hits the big six-oh!

Three times a week, Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 11:05am to be precise, office manager Michelle Babcock has muscle memory. Automatically she raises her head from her post at the reception desk to look out the window to see her past fly by. That is the time that Atlas Air 747 regularly departs from the nearby George Bush Airport – the end of the runway is less than a mile and a half away from the office door. The former flight attendant just can’t resist the noise, the smell of travel.
There’s a second trigger to her past when participants arrive at her desk to sign in, particularly those who will have crew resource management as part of their course. ‘My first CRM courses started before I started flying as we were put into scenarios where we would have to work through various incidents with the pilots,’ says Michelle. ‘You run out of options when you’re in a closed environment at 35,000 feet and have an emergency if you don’t work well together as a team.’

In January she hit the big six O, not in years by a long shot, but in the number of countries she has visited. Number 60, will was Zimbabwe which followed on from South Africa. She then hit Number 61 with Zambia and 62 with the United Arab Emirates. Even to Europeans this is a high number, but to her fellow countrymen she appears to live in the shadow of Phileas Fogg – Americans, perhaps as a counter-reaction to their adventurous forbearers, don’t travel internationally; even today two out of three US citizens don’t even have a passport.

Clockwise from left to tight - Michelle in Morocco, in the Philippines, in Sri Lanka, in Patagonia


Michelle’s decision to swap free air travel and saying hello to people at 35,000 feet to say hello at ground level in Maersk Training’s Houston reception, was a motherly desire to enjoy her daughter’s formative years. This is not the platform to explore Michelle’s formative years, but she’s not a person, she’s a book, well at least her parent’s story is. The flyleaf would have a summary.

‘Danish au pair in US on first day off meets man from Oklahoma on a bus and they are immediately inseparable. Au pair’s Washington employees want to send her home, so he marries her. They travel all over Europe in a Winnebago that he bought and never got a bill for, and return to the US. They split, she flees to Alaska, he regrets, follows, Michelle is the result. A genius with his hands, dad helps build Disneyworld’s Cinderella’s Castle in Orlando. Mum, fed up with their nomadic lifestyle takes her now three kids to Denmark on her own where Michelle starts school. Dad repents again and designs a home not dissimilar to Cinderella’s Castle sends a photograph and mum and the kids return. Dad, not a great finisher of projects, failed to mention that he hadn’t installed running water or electricity.

Today 47 years on from the bus meeting they still live in the castle. It now has water and power and he’s still waiting for the bill for the Winnebago.’
The four plus days of talking were eye openers, but for Fred Olsen it was much more, it was stakeholder management. ‘For us it is about maintaining old/good relationships and they have given us a lot of feedback, a lot of help when we had to go to the US first time, so we also need to support them moving on. We don’t know if we’ll get the job, but for sure this is a step forward making sure that there will be jobs over there,’ says CCO Jan.


So it is understandable that Michelle wanted to inject some degree of stability into her own daughter’s life and that her time with Atlas flying VIP charters and working at Air Canada was a closed chapter. Many of her new roles mimic those onboard. As office manager she’s responsible for keeping the course participants and her colleagues fed and happy as well as making sure they are in the right place at the right time. Catering at the Houston centre is similar to inflight since there is no full kitchen – she has to estimate on a daily basis what the contract caterers need to supply.

‘Friday is the most difficult day,’ she says, ‘as the participants often want to get off and beat the Houston traffic.’ Her own favourite food is Mexican. ‘When I got back from travelling that is the first thing I ate were street tacos as they weren’t really something we found while overseas, so we made a stop on our way home from the airport.’

Being half Danish it is appropriate that she works in a Danish company and although she only had two years schooling in Denmark and left as a five-year-old, to this day, Michelle can still read some of the language. ‘Talking, now that’s another ball game,’ she says, ‘though I want to apply for Danish citizenship. I think it would make travelling easier.’

It’s quite an achievement, 62 countries out of the 195 listed and recognized by the UN. Michelle has plans to reach the 100 country mark before she’s 60 – a long way off. The age that is not the number of countries.

’There are places I’d like to go back to, Morocco, China, the Philippines, but given the choice of returning or traveling somewhere new, I’d always go for the new experience. There’s an excitement to be had in stepping off an airplane on new soil.

Rocket Man

Kim’s finger has always been on the button, first missiles, now training

His father had gone to some trouble, pulled strings and wasn’t very impressed when his 19 year-old son refused to pick up the career starting opportunity he’d negotiated. Kim Thomsen turned down an apprenticeship at the local electricians to go to sea. Instead of changing Mrs Hansen’s 25 kroner light socket, within a couple of years he was pushing the launch buttons for missiles at $1.2 million a shot.
Thirty-two years on and with an 18 year-old son of his own searching for his first career path, he believes it is time to reflect on all the lessons of life he’s taken on board, onboard vessels and platforms and now pass the learning on. But not just to his son. Kim is one of team of the designers behind a unique simulator set-up at Maersk Training’s centre in Svendborg. It’s a hands-on production facility for workers, new or relatively new to the industry, where all actions have consequences, and new training facilities based on a Kongsberg simulator have been adjusted to match the real production facilities.

It is not just the impressive operative hardware that marks
the difference in process safety training for oil and gas production platforms, but the whole approach. ‘It’s a new type of training – before this Maersk Oil, the first client, had very theoretical approach. It was more how to design a separator, but my job is not to design, but to operate the facilities safely and according to procedures and to ensure we have clean produced water, low BS&W, clean gas according to specifications. What we are going to change here is in teaching people how to operate,’ says Kim.

It’s not about reading, but using the hands and eyes to get the information into the head. It is a way of learning Kim has benefited from for his entire working life.
Way back in 1985 Kim started his working life with the Danish Navy because he saw the potential to learn and be paid at the same time. ‘When I joined I had a choice between different departments – I chose to work with missiles and radars because it sounded interesting. I was so lucky I came to that group, sailing on Corvettes. I worked there for five years – well it was a mixture of sailing units and school, maybe one year at sea followed by six months in class.’

His naval career ended when the Defense Ministry decided to move his unit out from Copenhagen and split it between the small port towns of Korsør and Frederikshavn. Not tempted by either location Kim decided to do something else, first at Stenlille in Sjælland with a gas project, then Esbjerg as project engineer. A job he describes as ‘thankless, since it revolved around responding to ‘I need it yesterday requests.’
His lucky break came with a friend’s ‘unlucky’ break – an arm to be exact and since he had the right offshore certification he was suddenly replacing his friend on a production platform. Comfortable in the maintenance department because it was calm and organized, similar to the navy, he asked the OIM for a permanent post. It came with a request to learn about production for a year – and that is where he has stayed for the past twenty-two years.


He came ashore in response to another friend who wanted him to use his experience by working in production support in Qatar. After four years he came back to Esbjerg because it was the right time for his son’s schooling, ‘I’ve always been interested in education and educating others and I got a call from Maersk Training in Svendborg if I was interested in starting up a training area for process production.’

It is a very different form of training he conducts today to that he did as a naval technician and then as a sergeant missiles officer. There is a parallel. At the new process simulator, the object is in contributing to dramatically reducing incident statistics after training is implemented.* In the navy it was about pressing a button on a lethal weapon and making sure it did everything it should, except, since it was an exercise, without human mishap.

”Wrong target, wrong target it’s me!”

There was one close incident he recalls. ‘We were to shoot down a target being pulled by a plane on a five kilometer line. You are only allowed to shoot if you are locked on the right target, not the front one, so you need confirmation from the pilot. The missiles are controlled by a radar wave, but sometimes the wave starts to crawl up the line and you lock on the plane. It can happen, but according to procedures you can’t shoot until the pilot says go ahead. You need visual confirmation as well. I remember one time the system locked on the airplane, and we know that. We were just about to drop the missile launcher down again, when the pilot’s alarm went off in his helmet; he was totally in panic and he starts to switch between English and Danish, wrong target, wrong target it’s me.’
It is a training exercise that he clearly remembers thirty years on, and presumably so does the pilot.

‘In all my learning since 1985 until now, the “red line” between handling of weapon systems and working with hydrocarbon facilities is to stay safe and ensure proper operation you need to understand and respect the design, follow the procedures and ensure proper knowledge is in place. That day the pilot for sure appreciated that approach!’

Bonfire of the Vanities

Friday the 13th, we get a couple each year. It’s when some superstitious people batten down the hatches and take extra precautions against ill-fate by refusing to go out the front door. Statistically it is no worse than any other day, in fact the most dangerous thing you can do is to stay at home. Home may be where the heart is, but it is also the most accident-prone zone of your life.

This is because legislation and technology has helped dramatically reduce the causes and consequences of road accidents. The other historical area of misfortune, the workplace, has also seen a welcome reduction in incidents. This is largely due to increased vigilance and awareness, alongside improved safety features on equipment and, not before time, an end to the Industrial Revolution.
It is a vigilance that must never cease. Each year there is one day that the UN sets aside to focus on safety in the workplace. Maersk too puts aside a dedicated day and puts considerable value on the importance of evaluating all that is around us, viewing it from the potential of where things can go wrong and how to avoid them. Across the entire organisation for one day the central focus is on what can happen on any of the other 364 days in the year.
Back at home, accidents are not traditional, they are to a degree trend driven. Currently skateboards, the garden trampoline and the need to self-assemble a wardroom, frequently dominate ‘what happened’ lines in the report forms of A&Es. They are also socially effected. Avocado hand, is a recent fad, and mostly found in higher income areas. Avocado hand is a deep cut on the palm of the hand, caused when a knife circumnavigates the stone and you forget to stop. In the review of the risk assessment, perhaps the wine should have waited until the food preparation was complete.
One hospital that gets a lot of Avocado hands is the one Morse would have attended had he pranged his Jag, the famed John Radcliffe in Oxford. Their accident statistics for one year reveal that 41% of people had been hurt at home and a further 25% when doing leisure activities. That’s two-thirds of all accidents. The remaining third came from road accidents (15%), those injured in educational settings, like physical training (10%) and then the remaining eight percent coming from those injured at work.
As they say, statistics are like a bikini, they hid the interesting parts; what those from Oxford conceal is the degree of seriousness of the injuries at work and on the road. All too often they are life-changing.
Back at home, with the avocado safely in the bottom of the fridge, we can look at the most dangerous area. With all its knives, hot pans and wet floors, you might expect the kitchen to be the #1 offender. With a natural logic the bedroom is the favourite location to die in, followed by the bathroom, but in terms of accidents it is the living room. Scalding by hot drinks, burns from fires, tampering with electrics, tripping over rugs, are amongst the most common. Two factors might have influenced this stat. One is a parallel with the workplace. In the kitchen we sense and respect the dangers, in the lounge our guard is down. We also, unless you are bad at preparing sushi, spend more time in the lounge.

Home for me, at the moment, is an old farm. If you look at old farmers, apart from being weather-beaten, their bodies often tell tales of physical misuse or misfortune. A moment’s distraction and a scar for life. The equipment they work with is dangerous, but it is the key to any efficiency. As with any job, in the office, on a ship or a rig, the right equipment is the best way to complete the job safely and in the shortest time.

May and June is fiesta time for grass. No sooner have you cut it than it demands a revisit. Having the right equipment is the only answer. In fifteen years I’ve had four lawn-tractors, all driven to scrap through over-usage. The current one is German, sturdy and workmanlike with one cup holder. It replaced an American one which had two cup holders and cruise control. Well it would have. Anyway the point remains that if you have the right equipment, the job is half done; with two cup holders and two beers, done half as well.

At the weekend I bought a gas weed burner. My wife instantly put on her safety hat and pointed out the number of incidents where their usage had resulted in buildings being burnt down.

Of course that would never happen to me. So I’m sitting down in the most dangerous room in the house, grass cut, weeds obliterated, to watch that annual political fiasco which transmits under the guise of the Eurovision Song Contest when Britt, my wife of 24 summers and four lawn tractors, appears from the not-so-dangerous kitchen and with a wave of her hand beckons me away from the Moldavian entry. It wasn’t hard to leave, although the Russians thought it worth 12 points; well they do have peace-keeping troops there.

In a very calm voice she told me ‘the barn’s on fire.’ So powerful was the urge to plant a flag on the moral high ground, there was no hint of panic. And quite rightly. Meanwhile the barn door was being consumed by flame. As I extinguished it with a hose I tried to claw back some respect by pointing out that on the plus side, there were no weeds near it.

It was a feeble and fruitless effort. The moral being that the right equipment is important, the right safety attitude, vital. The incident, just a day or so before Tom Wolfe died, was my own personal Bonfire of the Vanities.

Editorial issues and suggestions:

Richard Lightbodyesea@maersktraining.com
Vanessa Diasesea@maersktraining.com

Names and emails of those able and eager to help with specific enquiries arising out of this issue

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Sales enquiries Brazil:

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Sales enquiries Malaysia:




Sales enquiries Middle East:

Sales enquiries Newcastle (UK):

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Sales enquiries United States

eSea 31




Thinking big

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eSea Magazine

The topics covered in our online magazine eSea often take a sideways look at the oil & gas, maritime and wind turbine industries uncovering little twists in the past whilst looking into the future.



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