Stuart Cameron Soule
Chief Engineer (South Africa)
"Working in SPO and especially working in Head office in Singapore has given me a whole new perspective on the work we do and made me more comfortable when dealing with people in general....Respect on board a ship is gained by working hard and smart. A career at sea could open up other opportunities as you’ll also get to meet people from all walks of life and places. You’ll have to have a good sense of humour because you’ll definitely to need it from time to time."
Describe your maritime journey in SPO.
I started my career with SPO as a Second Engineer. From the beginning, I’ve found that working on board offshore vessels was quite different from working on board cargo vessels which I had been sailing on prior to joining the company.
I was fortunate to work with some good Chief Engineers who gave me a lot of guidance and I was able to learn the ropes quite quickly. One of whom I sailed with several times and now consider him as my mentor and good friend.
After working on board the ice-breaking vessels in Russia for a short stint, I was lucky to be granted study leave to further my qualifications to become a Chief Engineer. I passed my Chief Engineer’s qualifications with flying colours and was shortly promoted to the position of Chief Engineer and assigned to work in one of the most challenging areas in Africa, Nigeria. A few years later, I was offered the job as Docking Superintendent. It was a challenging role but a great learning curve for me. Shortly after, I was requested to do a short stint in SPO’s Singapore Head office, which subsequently became a permanent position as Manager, New Projects in the Technical team from 2012 to 2014 where I worked on various projects under the watchful eye of then Technical Director, current Technical Consultant, David Marren.
This is probably one of the best jobs that I've ever had as I got to see the G Class vessels specifications handed over to the New Build Superintendent after the specifications where signed off on with JMU shipyard where the vessels were to be built. It was a very proud moment for me as we now have all G Class vessels delivered into in the fleet by the Building Superintendents. In all honesty, I don’t think I’d have managed without the support from my peers and colleagues in the Technical team. Their assistance, experience and camaraderie were very much appreciated.
From 2014 to 2016, I became the Fleet Technical Manager, Operations before I requested to return to sea as Chief Engineer in May 2016 so that I could spend more time with my two daughters who are based in Cape Town, South Africa.
How has working in SPO helped to develop yourself as an individual and professionally?
Working in SPO and especially working in Head office in Singapore has given me a whole new perspective on the work we do and made me more comfortable when dealing with people in general. Knowledge wise, I’ve certainly gained much knowledge from the opportunities that the company has given me throughout my years of work here.
What advice would you give to someone who is considering a career at sea?
Life at sea has changed hugely in the 26 years that I’ve been sailing around the world. It is very challenging at times but it can be very rewarding as well.
Respect on board a ship is gained by working hard and smart. A career at sea could open up other opportunities as you’ll also get to meet people from all walks of life and places. You’ll have to have a good sense of humour because you’ll definitely to need it from time to time.
Can you recall one memorable voyage or work experience?
One of my best voyages was when I was sailing on board the Pacific Brigand as the Second Engineer in 2006. We were working 24/7 for the Castoro Sei in the gulf and everyone on board worked really hard and put in hours. Despite the challenging work and differences in nationalities and backgrounds, everyone got along very well and it was a really good and jovial crowd on board.