25 October 2023
THE DRYDOCK MASTER, GREAT CHOREOGRAPHER OF OPERATIONS ON A SHIPYARD
The job of drydock master is one of the lesser-known but oh-so-important professions in the shipbuilding and ship repair sector. Sometimes called shipyard master or portmaster, the drydock master is a pillar of the maritime industry. These professionals are responsible for coordinating the dry-docking of ships for maintenance, repair or construction. Their work requires a unique combination of technical, managerial and leadership skills. So here is a glimpse into the daily life of Maxime Tailleur, drydock master at Ocean Group.
WHAT EXACTLY IS A DRY DOCK MASTER?
Dry dock masters are responsible for managing shipyards, and more specifically for putting ships out to dry for repair or construction work. His role is crucial in guaranteeing the safety, quality and efficiency of operations. He is the link between the customer, engineers, craftsmen and crews, ensuring that work can be carried out to the standards and specifications set out in the specifications.
One of the essential skills of a dry dock master is undoubtedly an in-depth knowledge of ships and their structure. He must have a detailed understanding of the different types of vessels, from small fishing boats to the largest commercial vessels, and even military vessels! This expertise is needed to assess the scope of the work required, estimate costs, plan operations effectively and ensure efficient and, above all, safe dry-docking.
Planning is an integral part of the drydock master’s job. He coordinates the entry of ships into the dry dock, ensures that the necessary resources – such as skilled labor, materials and equipment – are available, and establishes a realistic work schedule. Time management is crucial, as each day the ship is out of service can be costly for both the shipowner and the shipyard.
THE MV Jos Deschênes II enters dry dock
In the case of the dry-docking of the MV Jos Deschênes II, nearly three months of work and planning were required before the dry-docking maneuver. Maxime, our drydock master, travelled to the ship’s home port while the vessel was in operation, so as to get to know it perfectly before its arrival. It has to be said that this maneuver was more than spectacular, as the dry-docking took place in a floating dry dock!
In addition to considering the standard aspects of a dry dock, the drydock master had to constantly check the water level and ballast the dry dock. As the MV Jos Deschênes II is the largest ship to enter the floating dry dock, a major ballet had to be orchestrated in the basin to ensure that operations ran to perfection. Everything had to be thought through and doubly validated since the short window of opportunity offered by the tides meant there was a very little margin for error. Once the ship’s positioning was completed and the floating dry dock returned to its usual location, the drydock master’s job was not over. Just as the ship went in, it will soon have to come out again, and the maneuvers will be just as complex and require just as much preparation as during the dry docking.
Ensuring everyone’s safety
Another important responsibility of the drydock master is to ensure safety. Shipyards and dry docks, whether floating or not, are potentially dangerous environments, and compliance with safety standards is imperative to avoid accidents. The drydock master must ensure that workers have the necessary training and use the appropriate safety equipment at all times. At Ocean Group, once the stages of the dry docking process have been established, the drydock master meets with the health, safety and environment teams to ensure that they do not pose a risk to employees involved in the operation.
Leadership is an essential quality for a drydock master, as he coordinates a multidisciplinary team of workers. The ability to coordinate these workers ensures that projects are completed on time and to optimum quality. The dry-docking of the MV Jos Deschênes II is a case in point. The synergy deployed not only between the shipbuilding and ship repair teams, but also with the harbour towing ones, in concert with the participation of the Société des traversiers du Québec teams, resulted in one of the finest dry-docking operations of Maxime’s career!
Guardians of ship safety and quality
The job of drydock master is an exciting challenge, requiring a unique combination of technical, managerial and leadership skills. These professionals are the guardians of ship safety and quality, helping to maintain the integrity of the maritime industry. Their work is essential to the smooth operation of the world’s shipping fleets, from merchant vessels to military vessels and fishing boats. Ultimately, the drydock master’s trade deserves recognition for its vital role in the maritime field.
For more information on Groupe Océan’s floating dry dock: