A team spirited ROV Pilot Technician shares his story | HEROES

For anyone who loves meeting and working with new people, the Energy, Marine and Renewables industries offer the perfect career, says ROV Pilot Technician, Adam Gom.

Adam Gom describes himself as a “team player” and a “people person” who gets a big kick out “fixing things”. For those reasons, he couldn't imagine being part of a better industry than marine, oil and gas. “I love to meet and work alongside new people,” he says. “Their friendship can be a humbling experience.”

For the last five years, Malaysian-born Adam has been working onboard survey vessels as an ROV Pilot Technician. He started his offshore career as trainee ROV pilot with a local firm in Manila, and is now working with global subsea engineering and applied technology company, Oceaneering International. In between he's worked onboard the MMA Pinnacle as an ROV Pilot, and the Nor Australis as an ROV Pilot Technician. “Those were fun crews to be with,” remembers Adam. He laughs. “And the food was very good, too!”

Technical troubleshooting

Essentially, Adam is never happier than when he's solving a technical challenge. “If there's something wrong with an ROV — if the thruster is faulty, for example — then it's my job to check the wiring and the hydraulics and get it going again,” he explains. “I love that! You have to be good with hydraulics in this line of work; but, more importantly, you must also be good with electronics. That's an important requirement for anyone maintaining ROVs.” 

But that's just one part of his job, he says. “When it comes to the other — the operational part — I'm one of the pilots guiding the ROV beneath the water to work on various tasks, such as laying nodes on the seabed and then retrieving them.”

Planning objectives

His day on board a vessel starts early. “Currently I work the 6am to 6pm shift, so I wake around 5pm, take a shower, have breakfast, chat with the crew and head to the morning meetings,” he says. “That finishes around 6am; so then I go to the ROV station to talk to my supervisor about the work ahead and our main objectives for the day. For example, I might be using the ROV to lay nodes on the seabed for an oil and gas client in Malaysia. That means launching the vehicle and flying it to the exact location where the nodes have to be positioned. Laying nodes is a difficult task — more complicated than retrieving them, anyway — because we have to land the ROV on the seabed which is often muddy, and the nodes have to be laid in a precise and specific way. We'll also recover the nodes and inspect them later.”

Adam agrees that being an ROV Pilot Technician is skilled work; but he doesn't personally see it as 'pressurised'. Then again, it helps that he's a supremely laid-back person who persistently projects an aura of calm. “That's another reason why I like my job, because I find that the people I work with — and for — are generally very calm too, even in challenging times,” he says. “Yes, it can be tough to be at sea and away from our families; but after we've completed our work for the day we can always see and chat to them and over the internet. And for someone like me who enjoys travelling, this industry is ideal. So far I've been to Australia, Vietnam, Thailand, Saudi Arabia and Singapore.”

Importance of health and safety

In October of last year, Adam contacted Atlas Professionals, which is how he came to be working on the Nor Australis and MMA Pinnacle. “If there are any suitable projects that need an ROV pilot, Atlas will get in touch to ask if I'm available,” he says. “They're good to work with because they arrange everything and do it very well. Take travelling, for example. They book tickets for you and make sure your bags are transferred if you need to take a connecting flight; and they ensure people pick you up at the airport and take you to where you need to go. You're always well looked after.” He's also impressed with Atlas Professionals' Zero Harm policy, to increase safety presence and awareness for all personnel. “That's very important in our working environment,” he says. “We want every crew member to get back home safe and well to their families.”

Adam may be laid-back, but he's still ambitious. “I do have plans to further my career,” he admits. “One day I'd like to be a bridge superintendent, running ROV teams. But, for now, I want to consolidate my contribution to the oil and gas industry, and achieve my aim to be successful as an ROV Pilot Technician. It's my goal to do the best in every task assigned to me.”