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Working Offshore - A Mother's Perspective

Updated: Nov 13, 2023

We caught up with Lucy Hill, a Barge Operator (Marine CRO / Tech) on the GP3 FPSO and mother to Angus (3 years old) to hear about her working experience and how an inclusive environment can make all the difference to working mothers.

Hi Lucy, thank you for reaching out and offering to share your working story! Can you please tell us more about your role and where your career has taken you to date?

This is my second year following my return offshore post maternity leave, and I’d love to share my experiences to highlight how fulfilling and empowering it is being out here.

My career at sea started when I qualified as a Deck Officer in 2014 and after travelling the world on various ships I transitioned offshore in 2016, onboard the Gryphon A FPSO. The sea has very much been a part of my life since I was little, and I didn’t want to give it up just because I now have someone little in my life.

I started working on the GP3 FPSO in 2018, and after a couple of years decided to start a family with my husband Michael, who’s also on GP3 as a Mechanical Tech. At the time it was quite a scary prospect (especially being one of few boiler suit wearing women in the North Sea) but I was super lucky the GP3 was a TotalEnergies asset at the time. Their maternity leave policy was good – 6 months full pay and the rest Statutory Maternity Pay. It felt like being in the right place at the right time, and a lot seemed to work out by chance, which isn’t ideal but overall my experiences are positive. Unfortunately (or fortunately!) I had to stay home through COVID, so my maternity leave was almost too long. This is maybe what drove my desire to return to work. There’s a lot of work left to unpack regarding that time, as everyone knows maternity leave is such a whirlwind and I’m still processing a lot of it! But everyone has to do what is right for them and their family.

I returned to work offshore in October 2020, and I count my lucky stars I’m able to make it work to be out here, especially when so many mothers simply don’t have the choice. My job is fulfilling, pays well, and gives me the time to be home more than at work during the year. I have amazing support in the form of grandparents, our school Early Years Practitioners (the hardest working people for the littlest reward!) who also make up a kind of nanny arrangement, and of course my husband.

Our rotas are 2 weeks on, 3 weeks off, so my husband and I’s rota overlaps by a week (hello childcare!). However, this means we get around a fortnight at home all together as a family. This is a luxury many don’t get so is definitely a highlight of working away. Like all mothers trying to find a balance, going to work is tough to organise and sometimes I feel like I’m clinging on to my career when we struggle to make childcare work. It is worth it though; I find it so empowering to break societal norms by wearing my boiler suit and carrying out my technical and often stressful job. I may disagree with that statement when trying to swing round from 2 weeks of nights with a little one around though!

I couldn’t have done it without Michael, my husband, who doesn’t just babysit his child he really takes on his fair share of childcare and tasks within the house, which I’m super grateful for. He looks after Angus for the week I’m still offshore, and together I think we’re doing a great job of modelling to our son that it isn’t only up to me, his mummy, to care for him and the house. I think we can both agree that parenting in 2023 is the hardest graft of all; and we both enjoy the perks of being offshore like having dinner made for you and your laundry done. For now, it is working out but our main priority is Angus and his wellbeing, so we’ll see what the future holds as it comes!

Sounds like you’ve had a great experience which is so positive to hear, as not everyone has the same experience when they have a child. Did you reach out for support anywhere else?

Support also came via AXIS in the form of the mentoring scheme, which was a brilliant help for a new, barely functioning mother. My company didn’t really seem to know what to do which left me even more anxious (completely avoidable and unnecessary – shows how much work there is to be done!). The support and insight I gained from my mentor, Mike Killeen was invaluable – he inspired me to regain my confidence and I realized that actually, I’d be great offshore because if I can deal with early motherhood, often alone through COVID, then anything is possible.

Our Mentoring Scheme has been so positive for so many people, so we are happy to hear that it helped you too! Thank you for sharing your story, why did you decide to reach out?

I was inspired to share my story as motherhood has opened my eyes to a different side of being a woman. Even in this day and age, it seems the patriarchal ways of modern society would rather have women stuck in the home unable to fulfil their own dreams. It shocked me once I realised, but now I have it’s hard to ignore. It has been this way for years, and I’m so grateful for the valuable work of AXIS, Pregnant then Screwed, WEP etc. for highlighting and raising the issue. Ultimately, this is all for our son – I’m hoping to make him proud and model taking care of myself in order to take care of him in the best possible way. I also hope my story can inspire others to not be afraid of breaking societal norms and strive for a career, family, support and freedom as we deserve it all too.


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