25 June 2020
Victor Gibon, International Business Developer
1 / What has been your career path so far ? Could you tell us more about your role on board ILE D’OUESSANT?
I was born in Le Havre and although the sea has always been present in my life, I must admit that I got into the maritime sector quite coincidentally. As a trained engineer, I started my career with an internship at a shipyard in the Netherlands, after which I worked for a maritime research firm.
I joined LDA in late 2016. My job is to develop the activities of our Industrial Marine division. More recently, I have been in charge of monitoring the execution of the Ile d'Ouessant project in its multiple aspects, leading the commercial relationship with ASN and coordinating the various departments.
2 / What do you think of this new ASN ship operated by Louis Dreyfus Armateurs (concept, equipment, future operations, fleet, etc.) ?
This ship conversion is based on a simple paradigm: offshore oil support vessels have been underemployed over the past few years and therefore have little value.
The Ile d’Ouessant project was about rehabilitating and equipping a ship so that she could operate on a promising market (submarine cable maintenance). It was a real vote of confidence from ASN, acknowledging LDA's capability to carry out an operation of this scale.
It was a major challenge for LDA, which demonstrated its ability to put a derelict vessel back into service, transform her by integrating cable machines supplied by its subsidiary LDTVO and operate the whole successfully.
3 / What will you take away from this great conversion project? Any anecdote or major fact?
The year spent on this project has been intense and I have learned a lot from sedentary staff and crew members alike. Their dedication has been outstanding.
I will particularly remember how we found this abandoned ship in the UK. After two years of research and inspection around the world, Philippe Le Gros and I learned that shipowner Toisa’s fleet was going into liquidation. We flew to Hull shortly after to inspect their ship Toisa Warrior.
The Toisa Warrior had been decommissioned for three years but appeared to be in a good condition. Inside, the grass had grown out in several places, water had frozen on the upper decks, turning them into ice rinks, and time seemed to stand still.
In agreement with ASN, we chose the Toisa Warrior, which was the bigger ship from the two options we had. After a complex acquisition process, we were informed that the hull would be delivered to us shortly. The following day, we called an emergency meeting with all the involved departments at LDA to prepare for the arrival of a new vessel. Everything went quickly after this and the actual transfer of the hull took place three weeks later.
LDA’s support units must be commended on their reactivity as they managed to quickly set up a solid team to take on the ship’s rehabilitation.
One year later exactly, the Ile d’Ouessant sailed from the Remontowa shipyard with two unexpected passengers, the superintendent and myself, who had no other means of safe repatriation to France in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.