Sherman Young

Maintenance Supervisor

Petro-Canada
St. John's, NL

Why did Sherman choose this career area?

Sherman was interested in a hands-on career because he always liked fixing things. He took courses in physics, math, and chemistry at Belanger High School. Although Sherman considered several programs, he chose a marine career because it offered graduates better pay, more travel, lots of jobs, and more time off. Tuition fees were lower, too.

What’s Sherman’s educational background?

Sherman completed the Marine Institute’s Marine Engineering Technology program. Early in his studies, he was unsure he had made the best choice; but his first work term with Seismic Surveys confirmed that he was in the right field. He enjoyed watch keeping in the engine room and the challenge of fixing equipment quickly. Life at sea was a good fit.

What’s Sherman’s job all about?

Sherman has worked for companies from different parts of the world, but he has always lived in NL. He has sailed on many types of vessels, including research and cargo ships. Each ship is different, so Sherman learned all he could about various vessel types. He gained enough sea time to earn a 2nd Class certificate; he hopes to write his 1st class ticket this year.

After some years of working on ships farther afield, Sherman got a job on an offshore platform as a production operator. He was delighted to get this work off the coast of NL. This job opened a new world of platform utility systems, machinery, and processes in primary oil production.

From this role, Sherman moved to the platform maintenance department. He later became maintenance supervisor, again because he had the right education and experience.

Sherman works three weeks on shore planning about 13,500 hours of platform maintenance and three weeks offshore overseeing the work carried out by 65 workers from various trades; then he has three weeks off.

The job includes running, maintaining, and fixing everything from refrigeration systems, engines the size of an average house, and all kinds of pumps. The work blends mechanics, electrical operations, welding, and operating. It’s challenging and engaging, and it suits Sherman perfectly.

What are Sherman’s working conditions like?

Sherman drives to work at the Petro-Canada offices in St. John’s, but he goes offshore by chopper or supply vessel. He works 12-hour shifts per day for three-week rotations.

Onboard working conditions and accommodations are excellent. On the platform, Sherman has his own room, internet, and satellite TV. The meals are great, the crew is well trained, and safety is the primary consideration.

What benefits are associated with Sherman’s job?

Sherman’s career path demonstrates the range of employment available for marine engineers. While being away from home is tough, the generous leave system for work on offshore platforms makes up for it. High salaries also make the job very attractive.

What’s exciting or cool about Sherman’s career area?

Sherman works on a vessel with two large gas turbines designed to work off gas that flashes from the oil pulled from the sea bed. The whole platform can be powered for free by using clean burning fuel gas 99 percent of the time. If these machines were burning diesel, they would use 200,000 liters in 24 hours; it would take eight tractor trailer loads of diesel to meet one day’s requirement. Sherman says it’s exciting to be part of this green shift.

On a personal level, Sherman still finds the work fascinating and the travel exciting. Besides routine work-related travel, he has completed specialized training internationally. It’s been a perfect career choice.

What advice would Sherman give to people considering a marine transportation career?

This career requires the ability to thrive while at sea, an interest in how things actually work, a willingness to interact with all kinds of people, and a desire to learn. It offers huge rewards and a great variety of career paths.