Ship to Shore: Tracking a 40 year career in the maritime industry

The value that experienced employees bring to a business is immeasurable. In the case of Viva Energy Australia’s Marine Technical Advisor Bryan Warburton, a willingness to continue learning and be adaptive to change has led to a staggering 40 year globetrotting career in the maritime industry.

The Value of Experience

After completing a five year trade apprenticeship, Bryan started a highly successful career in the maritime industry at sea. Bryan sailed his way through the Engineering ranks for over 20 years to become Chief Engineering Officer, working mostly on tankers for major oil companies both overseas and on the Australian coast. During this time he attended RMIT Maritime College acquiring his First Class Marine Engineer Certificate of Competency issued by Australian Maritime Safety Authority and additional accreditation with Lloyds Classification Society to conduct machinery surveys. 

During Bryan’s seagoing career he stood by the building of three vessels (two for oil majors) and sailed on their maiden voyages. “Sailing on any ship for its maiden voyage is a real privilege but it can also come with its challenges when all of the ships systems are tested for the first real time out at sea.” 

Bryan navigated his way back into port in 1997 taking up a position onshore as a Ship Manager, a role which saw him managing up to seven vessels and the dry docking of ships in Singapore, Indonesia, China, and Dubai. 

Bryan’s extensive marine engineering background was critical to shoring up a position with the Shell Company of Australia. His tremendous industry knowledge and experience has carried through to his role at Viva Energy today and been invaluable to the business and our maritime customers ever since.

“Over the last two years, Viva Energy has brought in three bunker fuel ships into Australian waters which is more than any other Australian company has done in many years. I spent two months at a shipyard in Jiangyin China with the Management Company overseeing the modifications and dry docking of the ICS Reliance and ICS Allegiance, and most recently the ICS Integrity to ensure the vessels met Australian safety and environment requirements, were compliant with international standards, and also satisfied Viva Energy’s specifications. Now these vessels all supply fuel directly to ships coming into the Port of Melbourne and the Port of Sydney, or sometimes used to transport fuel from our Geelong Refinery to NSW.”

Although a rare occurrence, Bryan, as the only engineer in our marine team, is called on to investigate any machinery technical problems on-board ships, review and provide an update to the wider business about any potential impacts to fuel supply. “Maintaining continuity of supply is critical for our customers and ultimately for our business. I’m able to understand Viva Energy’s perspective on this but my seagoing experience also means that I fully understand the Ship Operator’s challenges so I can act as a liaison between both parties and try to get a satisfactory result.”   

When our Marine team identified the need for a Ship Vetting Quality Assurance Process, who better to get involved than Bryan who subsequently designed and implemented the system we use today. In addition, after Viva Energy became a member of the Oil Company International Marine Forum (OCIMF), Bryan used his knowledge as a former OCIMF Accredited Ship SIRE (Ship Inspection Report programme) Inspector to develop a process to manage the Ship Inspection requests from global shipping companies, working with other OCIMF Accredited) inspectors from around the world. All major oil companies including Viva Energy will as part of the vetting quality assurance process review ships SIRE inspection reports. “If this report is not to the standard that we expect then we will either not accept the vessel or not accept it until we have discussed our concerns with the vessel operator and receive further positive assurance from them.”

These high safety marine assurance requirements also extend to when a ship arrives into port or to berth. Bryan evaluates the ship to shore interface of Terminals around Australia in line with OCIMF guidelines to ensure that the berth is suitable for the size of vessel and also the safe loading and discharging of ships. 

Bryan is also involved with providing leadership on marine assurance, supporting our Supply and Health Safety Security Environment (HSSE) teams with advice on all matters marine related, and regularly represents the company’s interests on any shipping and marine issues with Regulatory, Port Authorities and other external bodies. 

Bryan’s role sees him working with a variety of shipping authorities from Harbour Masters around the country to Port berth owners as well as Shipping Operators where the relationships that Bryan has built over many years becomes critical. “Our relationships with shipping authorities is of tremendous importance to us. If there’s an issue, I know I can pick up the phone and discuss this with them and where possible get a positive outcome for the business.”

Powering into the future 

In an impressive career, Bryan has pursued a lifelong journey of learning. To keep abreast of developments in marine engineering, science and technology, and legislative changes which impact ship compliance, Bryan was accepted as a member of the London Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology in 2003. 
Bryan’s enthusiasm for his job has not wavered. “Viva Energy is an exciting company to work for. They are focused on the future and always looking for new and interesting projects, and are prepared to be innovative whilst still following all the Maritime Quality Assurance Protocols. ”  
But it’s the people that Bryan works with that makes the job fulfilling. “There’s a high level of professionalism when it comes to people working together to solve problems. Every person in the marine technical team have worked on ships previously and that means they each have a unique perspective based on their own experiences that they can bring to the table.  At the same time there’s a strong camaraderie within the team and consideration for the interests of individual employees.”

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