Hello to the SciGi family. My name is Elisabeth Logeais and I have been working as a surveyor for Louis Dreyfus Armateurs on cable ships since July 2020.
Cable-laying ships are used to lay submarine telecommunication cables to connect two points on the globe. My role is to ensure the correct positioning of the cable on the seabed, that it effectively follows the route previously drawn by the engineers. This implies managing the positioning of the ship by GPS, the acoustic positioning of the different underwater devices when there are some, the modelling of the cable in the water using a specific software but also the good communication with the other teams on the ship to synchronize operations to be in the right place at the right time while taking into account human and material constraints.
I chose to work in the maritime environment because I have always lived by the sea, in Brittany and in the French overseas departments and territories, so it is for me a familiar and reassuring landscape with which I grew up. I also did a lot of sailing when I was young and that’s when I realized that I also felt good on the water. Moreover, it is a complex and fascinating environment which shelters multiple forms of life, interesting physico-chemical phenomena and which still keeps today a part of mystery.
In my job, I particularly like the operational side of the job and the interactions with all the ship’s departments to achieve our main objective (to correctly lay the cable on the seabed) as efficiently as possible while ensuring the safety of everyone.
On the other hand, I appreciate the usefulness of my job in the ultra-digitized world in which we live, since I contribute to connect countries to each other, to connect islands to continents…even if I am well aware that it remains an industry and that a good part of the data that transit through our cables is destined to multinationals or to the stock exchange.
The offshore sector recruits a lot because it is a sector where there is a lot of turn-over
People stay on average for a short period of time, because the somewhat “cut-up” lifestyle does not suit everyone, or not for a whole lifetime. It is therefore a sector that is constantly recruiting to replace people who leave. In my opinion, the most interesting positions are those of Operations Officer or First Mate, as they supervise all the different departments of the ship.
My background so far? After a general scientific baccalaureate, I did 3 years of preparatory class in physics and chemistry (I repeated my second year to get a school that suited me better). At the end of the preparatory class, I entered ENSTA Bretagne (Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Techniques Avancées Bretagne) an engineering school in Brest/France. After a year of common core, I chose the Hydrography and Oceanography specialization for my two years of Master.
The most difficult thing for me was to make decisions : the decision to repeat my second year of preparatory classes, then the choice of engineering school and finally the choice of specialization. It was complicated because each time I had the impression that I was closing doors, but in reality, I only opened new ones by discovering new fields of activity.
Today, what am I most proud of in my career? I haven’t talked about it yet but between the end of the engineering school and my current job, I went to Amsterdam Island in the TAAF (French Southern and Antarctic Territories) where I lived and worked for a little over a year. I am very proud to have been selected to live this incredible experience.
The format of my work based on 2 months at sea and 2 months at home is a bit complicated: it is indeed difficult to have regular activities, but I am still registered in a rugby club. So, I do the training and the rugby matches when I am on land. Otherwise, I do all sorts of activities by myself: hiking, gardening, reading, baking, etc.
In the maritime sector in general (including fishing, aquaculture, yachting, trade…), the percentage of women is about 20% but the percentage of women on board at sea is less than 10%. I think that it is a rather unknown environment for young girls and traditionally masculine, which leaves little room for women, but there are now more and more young girls in the merchant navy school, for example.
In addition, maternity is another point explaining the low percentage of women on board long-distance ships. Many women decide not to go on board (or to go on shorter, more coastal voyages) when they want to start a family, while many men continue to sail long-distance while being fathers.
My advice to you girls is :
Follow your desires step by step without worrying about anything else. If you know why you are following a certain path then no one can question that choice.
If you are interested in this sector, do not hesitate to contact me !
Written by Emmanuelle P.