What is your role at Maersk Supply Service?
At Maersk Supply Service, I was working as a Second Officer when I joined our collaboration with The Ocean Cleanup on a secondment arrangement. The initial objective of the role was simply to support our partner by introducing my offshore experience as a dedicated resource for the planning and design of The Ocean Cleanup’s offshore operations. Since then, the position has naturally developed, and I now fill the position of Operations Manager for the Oceans team at The Ocean Cleanup.
What have you helped to develop?
I have a leading role in the development of the ocean cleaning systems from concept to delivery, ensuring they are designed from the ground up to be safe for our offshore teams to handle and are compatible with Maersk Supply Service vessels. I then manage the scope of the whole operations from the moment the cleaning system is delivered by the manufacturer to the moment the recovered plastics arrive at the recycling facility.
Overall, the partnership has developed and grown too, and we now have a great team within Integrated Solutions at Maersk Supply Service, planning many parts of the offshore campaign. I act as a link between that team and all departments at The Ocean Cleanup, from hydrodynamic engineers to marine biologists.
How has your role and competencies supported The Ocean Cleanup?
My background in offshore operations in general means I can link to Integrated Solutions and speak the same language and terminology. My time on Maersk Supply Service project vessels has meant that I’m familiar with working across different departments and disciplines. Therefore, I am able to translate for data specialists or researchers who don’t have the specialised knowledge, which we take for granted. For example, knowledge on how the deck of an anchor handler works or why a particular safety feature is necessary. In the end, this adds value for all sides – Maersk Supply Service has well-informed clients and a system optimised for the vessels. Likewise, The Ocean Cleanup can look forward to a safe, efficient and effective offshore operation.
Photo Credit: The Ocean Cleanup
What has been the most challenging part of your position?
We constantly encounter situations where we are breaking new ground and where no one has previously had to solve the questions we are asking. When we first transported recovered ocean plastics for recycling, it was a very novel situation where there was a new category of material and a cargo with no port of loading. Sometimes, even the relevant national authorities have no precedent on how to interpret our requests. This is a challenge, especially given the fast-paced nature of the project. On the other hand, it provides constant motivation to find answers and push forward. It has been great working with everyone from port authorities to senior government officials and feeling their goodwill and positivity regarding the project whilst trying to find pragmatic solutions.
What excites you the most about your role?
The planning is detailed and intense, and that can be hard work, but in any project, there is a turning point in the progress- a moment where the plans start to go into action and things start to move and happen – that is a very exciting time. Then, the whole project becomes alive and starts to come off the page and become a reality.
You also have to look forward to milestone moments. We will go offshore this summer and make a large-scale extraction of plastic from the ocean. When the retention system is emptied onto the deck for the first time, we will see we have made a direct positive impact, and all the hard work will be worth it because the oceans will immediately be a better place. It is something everyone who has touched the project in any small way will be able to tell their children about.
What goals are you working towards?
I applied for the position with The Ocean Cleanup not only because it is an exciting project and a personal challenge but also because I truly believe in the importance of healthy and clean oceans, so in that respect, my goals are aligned with the overall mission! If I think in terms of project progress, then during my time here, I want to move through the technology development stage and into a full-scale, multi-system cleaning operation in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
I would also love to see The Ocean Cleanup operations become a platform for Maersk Supply Service and A.P. Møller-Mærsk decarbonisation initiatives. The project has so many followers worldwide, and it would be great for those people to see and hear about the hard work and innovation going towards the 2030 and 2050 targets. We can have a huge positive influence that way.
Why is the partnership with The Ocean Cleanup and Maersk Supply Service a good match?
Both organisations have shared core values, but primarily the match is good because there are two sides needed for the solution. On the one hand, we need a detailed knowledge of the problem, meaning the distribution and behaviour of floating plastic debris, and how to achieve a ‘full-circle’ where waste becomes a reusable material. This is core knowledge at The Ocean Cleanup. But, on the other hand, nothing could be achieved without safe and effective offshore work. That is, specialist work on a huge scale in a remote location, and here Maersk Supply Service are the experts. So it is a very complementary relationship where both sides are able to contribute and focus on what they do best – a perfect match.