How he became one of our more experienced ship delivery captains
He got in contact with TOS by chance. ‘I was just looking for an interesting shipping job and somebody mentioned TOS and their out of the mainstream projects. I became involved in ship deliveries and got hooked on it. The projects are all defined and unique. You start the project at location A, with the vessel often being in disorder at a yard. From that starting point, together with the crew, you get the vessel ready for departure. You get to know the vessel and the crew, you observe, improvise and make quick decisions. And then after the voyage you hand over the vessel to its owners at location B and untie all the emotional links with her. You represent TOS and take pride in your job. You treat each vessel as if it’s the first for its new owner: we did it.‘ says Frank Hilgevoord.
Pictures of some of Frank’s Ship Delivery Projects
Story telling: which ship delivery comes to mind
Hilgevoord: ‘It’s always a special feeling to hand over a vessel. Together with the crew we worked hard to get the job done, got very attached to the vessel in some way, good or bad. And then you suddenly cut all these emotional links and responsibilities and we all go our separate ways. You quickly distance yourself from the vessel and the voyage. Case closed!
The story that comes to mind is the medical assistance with the Smit Yallarm on open ocean near the end of the voyage to Gladstone Australia. With this harbour tug I sailed two oceans, my longest voyage ever with a total of over 14.000 miles. And with the final port in sight we received a request for assistance from the coast guard for relaying a medical case from a ship further out the coast. We picked up a crew member from a fishing vessel and speeded to the agreed rendezvous point to meet the helicopter just before sunset. Great experience and happy we could be of help to get the guy to the hospital. After arrival all the local media in Gladstone were waiting to give me my 15 seconds of fame.’
‘Another vessel that comes to mind is the Manta III. An old but charismatic vessel, pleasant crew and a long but thorough preparation nearby the Headquarters of TOS. During the voyage we encountered bad weather most of the crew got sick and the automatic steering gear failed. So you just improvise. I was happy I could use my electrical background to fix the problem myself and was able to avoid hand steering in lousy weather for the sick team.’
What to expect in piracy areas?
‘I have sailed four ship deliveries through piracy areas. I can’t say I get used to it, but we just take the necessary precautions. At the head office they develop a piracy plan together with the client and you just implement the plan as good as possible. It’s not allowed to describe in detail which precautions we take, but it is done professionally and thoroughly. On my voyages through piracy threatened areas TOS organises security guards which makes the difference. Sometimes they are big square roughnecks, but having them on board makes us feel safe,’ says Frank Hilgevoord.