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In Conversation with Bastiaan Pijl – Senior Service Technician

Bastiaan has been associated with Unique Group since 2015 when they acquired Oceanwide SaS in the Netherlands. Currently, he works as a Senior Service Technician for our Diving and Buoyancy & Ballast division.

Q1. Please provide a brief summary of your career to date. How many years in the industry and how many at Unique Group?

I am Bastiaan Pijl, a 39 years old Dutch citizen who has been active in the maritime world since 1998. Shortly after school in 1998, I had the privilege to work for the Royal Dutch Navy as a mechanical engineer supporting various functions and missions all over the world. These included working as a hydraulic specialist, motorman as well as technical support for various boarding teams.

In 2012, I left the Navy and started work at Oceanwide Safety at Sea as a Service Engineer for their hyperbaric lifeboats and davits. Well known globally for their SPHL manufacturing track record, the first few months at Oceanwide were exciting as I was part of the new builds team which helped me gain a lot of exposure. Oceanwide’s acquisition by Unique Group in 2015 only helped me further boost my career as, over the last few years, I’ve had the opportunity to work with their commercial diving, life support and buoyancy & load testing equipment as well.

Bastiaan at work on a shipyard in Shenzen, China during a commissioning job

Q2. What is your key area of expertise?

My main area of expertise is hyperbaric lifeboats and davits. I think I've now proudly commissioned around 25 SPHLs and davits over the years all across the world. Some of my day-to-day tasks include servicing, upgradation and annual certification of these lifeboats. Recently, I’ve also started to enjoy being involved in a few load testing jobs.

Q3. What do you enjoy most about your current role?

The challenges thrown by the industry and the freedom I have are the most beautiful things about my current position. It is also very nice that no day, location, country is the same which helps me to continue developing myself and gaining further experience.

Q4. What do you feel is necessary for anyone to excel in a technical / engineering role such as yours?

A good mentality contrasted with a healthy amount of perseverance and a good dose of humor is quintessential to success in a technical role in this industry.

Q5. How would you describe a typical day for you at Unique Group?

I don't really have standard days - some days I’m offshore and then another day at a shipyard and then again on a ship or a crane. Each location has its own share of experiences. :)

A quick selfie on client vessel in Belgium

Q6. Any key highlights to date of working with the company / key project you worked on?

The rebuild and upgrade of the SPHL from the Seven Osprey to the Seven Eagle was a key milestone for me working with the company. Recently, I was also involved in a 660T load test in Italy which was my first time with such a weight.

I also have very fond memories of the cycle bridge project in Almere (pictured below).

Q7. What do you consider as one of the biggest engineering marvels in the world and why?

I consider the submarine a technical miracle, I have been in a submarine a few times and it is so fascinating! The technical installations and the fact that everything continues to function whether you are on the surface or at a depth of 500 meters is simply mind-blowing.

Q8. What do you specifically do to maintain the professional/personal life balance? How has this changed since the onslaught of COVID-19?

Besides my full-time job, I have some hobbies and some very good friends. My friends and family know what I'm doing and understand that I'm often away from home for long durations of time. Absolutely no qualms and they all take it well, and so, I feel very supported by my family and friends in everything that I do. During these crazy times of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is hard to travel and the quarantine time is a major letdown. It feels nice to know you have 10 days being locked up in a hotel room but in reality, it gets really boring in just 2-3 days.

Q9. How has the year been so far, both from a personal as well as career perspective?

Personally, I am looking forward to being able to travel freely again with zero restrictions and hoping a normal return to life can happen soon for all of us, wherever we are. From a career perspective, it has been a busy few months and I look forward to continuing developing myself and adding more versatility to my experience.

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