A trip offshore, by Suzie Baldwin

A trip offshore, by Suzie Baldwin

Hi, I’m Suzie, I’m on the Engineering Stream and I’m in week seven of my ten week summer placement. After finishing all my training to go offshore, I was allowed to go offshore to see the wind turbines I have been focusing on this summer.

The day before, I was given my PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) and told to be back at the office at 6am the next morning. Yep, early! Rolled out of bed at 5am, ate some cereal then turned up, changed into my working boots, adorned a high-vis jacket and life jacket, and went to catch the boat that would take us to the turbines.

It takes about an hour and a half to get from Grimsby Docks to the Wind Farms Lynn, Inner Dowsing and Lincs, which are around 5 kilometres off the coast of Skegness. There’s a TV on board, with plenty of seats, I managed to lie down for most of it. I got up to put my boots back on and suddenly felt very queasy. Since then I’ve been told by many mariners to keep upright, and have an eye on the horizon when travelling, something to do with tricking your brain into thinking you’re not moving.

The boat dropped off different maintenance teams to different turbines. There are about 2-5 people working on different turbines at different times, and about 3 boats in the water, who ferry people from turbine to turbine. After we had dropped everyone else off, it was time to scale the bright yellow ladders on the transition piece, putting my Working at Heights training into practise.

For those who are wondering what the transition piece looks like, here is an image of Lynn Turbine 2, courtesy of Centrica.Dan and Jim from Centrica took me up ID17 (Inner Dowsing, Turbine 17), and showed me the top of the turbine, called the nacelle. Luckily the lift was working, so I got to miss out on a good chunk of the climbing!

Dan took this cracking photo of me at the top, which won the Summer Placement Twitter Competition! OK, it drew first place. My dad didn’t believe it was me; my mum didn’t want to believe it was me up at 80 metres!

“Look mum, no hands!”

“Look mum, no harness!” (Don’t worry; you’re inside fencing so you don’t have to wear it!)

Once they had completed their work at the top we headed back to the transition piece platform to wait for a transfer from one of the boats. I got the experience of clambering up and down the sides of the transition piece, and transferring back on and off the boat.

I was quickly transferred to ID16 (funnily enough, right next door to ID17), to have a look at some of the work being done in the basement. This was really exciting for me as this is what I’d spent the last month compiling a report on, so it was great to see it up close. You’re not allowed in the bottom of the turbine without confined space training, so I was allowed to lean over the access hatch (safely attached to prevent me from falling!), shouting questions and taking pictures.

After the guys had completed the work we transferred all the tools and bags from the turbine onto the boat by a crane. This is permanently on the transition piece to transfer equipment. After that, we scaled down the ladders again, and got back onto the boat.

After a cup of tea and a couple of hours watching the Commonwealth Games, we arrived back in Grimsby Docks. After handing back my PPE and swapping my boots for shoes, I drove home. A tiring but very enjoyable day!