Sparrows Offshore Invests in Aberdeen Training Facility

Sparrows Offshore has invested over £1 million in a new state-of-the-art pedestal crane at the Sparrows Training Center at Tyrebagger on the outskirts of Aberdeen.

The new crane, a Liebherr BOS 2600, is typical of the latest generation of computer-controlled offshore cranes being installed in the North Sea. Weighing in at just under 100 tons and standing over 150 feet tall, the crane is mounted on a pedestal overlooking the disused and flooded Tyrebagger Quarry, simulating the offshore crane operator's view of an offshore supply boat alongside a platform or rig.

Sparrows Training Center has been the world's largest and most extensively-equipped trainer of offshore crane operators, banksmen and slingers for over 20 years. In recent years extensive rigging facilities have also been created to address the skill shortage in this trade also. In addition to providing training and assessment facilities for Sparrows own employees, the Center caters for students from the Middle East, Caspian, West Africa and South America who travel to train at the facility. The Center's instructors and assessors also travel worldwide to deliver internationally-recognized qualifications in accordance with OPITO, EAL and SQA standards.

The Liebherr 2600 is a 'third generation' hydraulic crane with sophisticated touch-screen controls and advanced safety systems. The operator's cab has been modified to provide space and seating for the instructor/examiner in addition to the student.

Sparrows training manager Susan Fraser says the investment in the new crane demonstrates Sparrows commitment to supporting competence standards in its existing workforce and to training the new lifting teams needed by the industry.

"Skilled crane operators are in scarce supply all over the world," says Susan Fraser. "Sparrows Training Center in Aberdeen is the largest and, especially since the installation of this new crane, best equipped facility training the next generation of offshore crane operators and load handling personnel."

Crane operator training is delivered in three phases. Stage 1 delivers good foundation training within a controlled environment, Stage 2 enables delegates to demonstrate advanced operating skills and successful completion of Stage 3 deems operators competent to carry out all lifts without supervision.

The majority of delegates at Sparrows Training Center are sponsored by their employers – especially drilling companies – however a substantial number are self-funding their training for a change of career or are moving from the armed forces.

"Crane operation is highly skilled and well rewarded; the ageing North Sea workforce and the drive for continued expansion in energy production means there will be excellent career prospects in this sector for decades to come," says Susan Fraser.

Sparrows Offshore is a division of Energy Cranes International, the Aberdeen-based offshore crane engineering, manufacture, maintenance and operations contractor. The group has sales in excess of £85 million through 16 service locations on 6 continents. The company employs over 1,200 people, more than 600 of them in the Aberdeen headquarters and North Sea operations. Earlier in 2006, Sparrows Offshore won the Scottish Offshore Achievement Award for Overall Achievement, having already won the award for Internationalization of Scottish Skills.