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Life over Seas NAIT grad Byron Birkbeck has visited 45 countries on six continents during 10 years working and living abroad

Photos by Byron Birkbeck

Millwright Byron Birkbeck manages the installation and commissioning of drilling equipment on some of the world's largest semi-submersible offshore platforms. He oversees a crew of about 30 who make sure equipment is running properly before vessels are deployed into deep water. He's pictured at SHI Samsung Heavy Industries in South Korea.

Blue Whale platforms, pictured right at the CIMC Raffles Yard in Yantai, China, are the largest ultra deepwater rigs in the world. They are the same height as a 37-storey building and can drill to depths of 15,000 metres.
“It is pretty cool to work around such massive equipment. We routinely lift 400 tonnes and are capable of lifting 1,200 tonnes.”
The Deepsea Stavanger, shown at the DSME Daewoo Shipbuilding Maritime Engineering in South Korea, is designed to operate in harsh environments and at water depths of up to 3,000 metres.

Birkbeck started travelling in 2001 during his downtime as a millwright apprentice. Today, he gets every other month off (after working 12-hour days for a 28 days) and often takes advantage of the down time to travel.

Visiting the Great Pyramids in Giza, Egypt.
SHI Samsung Heavy Industries in South Korea.

During his first five years on the job, Birkbeck was always planning his next adventure abroad, which would help him get through the grind of a 28-day work schedule.

Flying on a microlight aircraft while taking in a breathtaking view of Victoria Falls at Livingstone Island in Zambia.
“The [idea of a] bucket list for travel is a bit strange to me. A list of places that you want to go before you die? Travel doesn’t have to be expensive and isn’t exclusive like it might have been 20 years ago.”
Singapore at sunset

One of his favourite memories working abroad is sailing into Singapore at sunset after more than 20 days aboard a cramped semi-submersible platform. They sailed along side a Russian warship (below), a spectacle to sailors aboard both vessels.

“We’re on this massive yellow cube and they’re on their warship and we’re just taking photos of each other.”
Birkbeck at the Great Wall of China.
“The [idea of a] bucket list for travel is a bit strange to me. A list of places that you want to go before you die? Travel doesn’t have to be expensive and isn’t exclusive like it might have been 20 years ago.”

After visiting 45 countries, is there a favourite?

“It’s hard to say favourite because travelling is kind of dependent on where you are in your head. There’s a lot of really good countries, good aspects to every culture so long as you're in the mindset to see those from all different perspectives, then travelling can be great no matter where you’re going.”
The sun sets at the DSME Daewoo Shipbuilding Maritime Engineering in South Korea.

Credits:

Byron Birkbeck

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