More Crashing Helicopters!

I’m in Houston tonight. Prepping to take the HUET (Helicopter Underwater Escape Training) once more. So I can put a T (tropical) in front of it. 😦

These courses are supposed to be good for 4 years. I’ve taken this course at least a half dozen times since returning to the Gulf of Mexico in mid 2007. So, averaging about once every 2 years (price has gone down some, it’s ‘only’ costing me $500 this time). Once again, this is another course I need to take in order to work. Once again, nothing has changed since the first time I took this course in 2007.

Please ignore the music of the video if ‘strong language’ offends you. I got it off youtube, last time I tried to take photos, they wouldn’t let me so I have none of my own to show you what it’s like.

We do the same things: float/swim in the pool, jump from a height wearing a life jacket, put on the life jacket, swim with the life jacket, float/swim as a group wearing life jackets/survival(gumby) suits, get in a life raft, flip the helicopter upside down in the pool and get out of it a few times. I really don’t know why these companies keep insisting we do these things over and over and over again. It’s not like you forget any of it!

And, again, nothing has changed. I just took HUET last summer. At this point, I will not be allowed to work again until I re-take it (adding the T). What is the difference between T-HUET and HUET? I tried to find something sensible. NOPE, not happening. Here’s the difference…

T-BOSIET/T-FOET/T-HUET certifications are only valid for use in tropical region (T stands for TROPICAL) while BOSIET/FOET/HUET certifications are valid for BOTH cold water and tropical water regions.

You get that? T-HUET is ONLY valid for use in tropical regions, HUET is good for BOTH cold water AND tropical waters, so pretty much worldwide. So, my question is: WHY do the companies no longer accept HUET and insist on forcing us to go take another course teaching EXACTLY the same thing, but is not good for use in nearly as many places?

It’s incredibly frustrating to me (and most other mariners I’ve talked to since all this BS started). We have ALL been trained in how to put on life jackets, survival suits, how to operate life rafts and even life boats. Most of us have had many years of weekly drills on all this sort of thing (also fire-fighting, first aid and a whole bunch of other training on things that could go wrong). We continue to do these drills (by law) every week.

Then, to add insult to injury, the companies we work for insist on everyone repeatedly being trained on things like ‘rigging’, ‘swing rope’, ‘rig pass’, even if you will probably never have to deal with any of those things in your job! The last time I had to use a swing rope was about 30 years ago (it’s really not a very safe thing to play Tarzan out there!). As an AB, I was trained VERY WELL in rigging and as a deck officer, even better. But those years of training and experience don’t mean diddly squat to these people. It really is ridiculous that a licensed officer is told they’re not qualified to work offshore because they don’t have a ‘current rigging certificate’. 😦

It wouldn’t be quite so bad if the companies we work for would all get together and agree on some standard. Instead, we have to go and re-take the same courses over and over because one company will only accept BOSIET, one will only accept THUET, another will still accept HUET. BOSIET is pretty much the same as BST (basic safety training) that we ALL have to take every 5 years now, required and approved by the US Coast Guard (but not by OPITO which is the oil company standard setting organization- like the US Coast Guard is not up to snuff!) plus HUET.

You can’t take BST and HUET and get a BOSIET. You can’t even take BST and HUET and then take FOET (further offshore emergency training) which is basically just a renewal of BOSIET. You MUST take BOSIET first. It’s about $800 more expensive. 😦

Next year they’ll add another letter, or change the name. Training will still be the same, or maybe they’ll say something different for an hour (that surely could’ve been done at work), and force us to go back to take the class all over again. And no, they don’t offer any bridging courses, you have to do the whole thing over. 😦

I wonder, do these companies EXPECT that their helicopters are going to crash. Crash so often that every single person must be ready every single time to escape from the water? Why do only these offshore oil companies feel that way?

After all, airplanes crash just as often (probably more) than helicopters do. Do the pilots and air crew have to practice flipping their planes over in the water and escaping from a flooded plane? I asked. No, they NEVER have to do that! Much less do it a minimum of every 4 years! Do airplane companies force their passengers to practice ditching from their planes, EVER? NO, they don’t!

I want to know WHY do we have to do this same thing over and over and over. Somebody please give me a real reason. I’m not talking about insurance company BS either. I mean a REAL reason!

Some company PLEASE start up and act in a reasonable manner! Hire good, competent people and LET THEM DO THEIR JOBS! We do not need to be coddled, protected and micromanaged out the ying-yang!


4 thoughts on “More Crashing Helicopters!

    • I can’t say about military pilots, I don’t really know anything about their training. I just think it’s overkill to have us do this so often. If it makes sense for us to do it, then it must make sense for ALL flyers to do it. That clearly is not the case, so the fact that they make us do this is out of line. Just one more example of wasted time and money in the industry.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Jill,
    Come on… aren’t you being a little mellow dramatic? tell us how you really feel? NO ONE or a company or regulator is going to give you the answer you want or stop the training money making cycle. Because the person or company that does, when something does happen… they will be hung at the yardarm by everyone else.

    It is a sad to say, but I have seen our industry circling closer and closer to the drain…. eventually we will all be out of work because of this mandated economy we have created for ourselves all in the name of safety, in trying to prevent an incident from happening.
    Sorry incident prevention through training can’t and won’t ever happen… no training certificate, JSA paperwork or toolbox meeting will prevent it… only pure experienced people. That experience has to come from either near miss incident, survival of an incident or unfortunately even a fatality for others to witness. I have seen incidents happen with people totally “competent” and trained to the gills. Shit Happens… and it is either a learning opportunity or a fatally. True learning opportunities happen from going through an incident, you either run from it, handle it creatively and survive or you die. I believe the core training I received 30+ years ago was a great and sufficient start to my career, as time went one so did changes in equipment, and I learned and adapted via OJT and surviving a couple of near misses that provided me some invaluable learned experiences that today are my hard and fast rules and RAISED my situational awareness on the water. Some of those invaluable learned experiences can only be past on through a similar experience, NOT going through a training class where the instructor has no REAL experience, or the instructor is burned out from teaching the same outdated information over week after week, or watching a training video or wasting a week in a class taking a course that literally has NOTHING to do with your job skills.

    If training centers/companies/Clients had to pay the full day rate OT salary of the trainees they MIGHT be a lot more efficient and effective. Somehow I doubt it.

    Also we keep pushing people through these dumbed down classes, when in actuality there are people who really should just consider another career path that they can physically and mentally handle. Otherwise they become fatalities or worse… and complete burden and hazard to those of us who are actually doing our job.

    The complacency lies within us, the companies and regulators that have allowed the whole industry to start this downward trend. Some of us got complacent on the job and the incidents happened, some companies called for more training/prevention programs because they want to run marine companies like a regular office…(micro managed and controlling everything even thinking they could STOP incidents completely), and regulators have jumped onboard this train wreck, for the money and the justification of there existence.

    So in the end I really think we as mariners have started this and it will be up to us to correct it. I just wonder if it is too little too late for us have past MX….?? I think so and most everyone is too gun shy to radically alter course to prevent the ultimate collision.

    We are so few in the grand world and most of us have just accepted this change as gospel. So any effort to undo this can only start with those few of us still willing to let the young guys have the wheel and be ready to, hopefully just, bounce off the dock or put a few dents in the hull and back up their decisions, without being strung up by the rest of world. This way when these young guys get their own command, they will hopefully have had enough real experiences to NOT end up in Davy Jones’ locker.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Davy Jones, I couldn’t have said it any better! You make a lot of great points and here’s to hoping some of the people who get to make the rules for our industry will pay attention to a couple of people who DO have the knowledge and experience to understand the reality of what works and what does not work out there.
      All I can say is I hope one day to see a maritime company made up of maritime professionals. One that will NOT bow down to the lawyers and insurance companies and will run their company the RIGHT way! Whoever does this will totally clean up out there!


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