Hugo Marrero : More on Being a Sumbersible Pilot
There are many challenges, the challenge of being away from your family. Some years depending on how heavy the work load we may be working three to eight months at sea - not all consecutive but your still away for that time - and so is the rest of the crew. So whenever you are in a situation where you are keeping people away from their families in a different environment at sea - it can be tough for everybody. Normally it takes a certain kind of personality, you know what you are getting into, you know the purpose of you being there, and you do what you are supposed to do.
The other aspect of things that are challenging is when things go wrong. You always do your best to preimpt what things could go wrong, like what spare parts we should bring, but you can't possible bring everything on board because there is a limited amount of room. So when something goes wrong you don't have the right part you can't just go to a store and buy what you know when you are 200 miles at sea - and the customer is paying $35,000.00 dollars a day for you to do the work for them - so sometimes you have to use your creativity to make do and to make things work when you have to. Its kind of like show business - the show must go on and you have to do whatever it takes to get it done.
When working at sea you cannot control the weather and this is always going to make things more difficult and potentially unsafe. Whenever the weather gets tough you can see everybody gets more tense - and more not apprehensive but more alert - and you have to be quicker to react. We have had occasions when the weather has been very rough when the submersible is coming up, and the weather can change from flat calm to 6 to 10 foot seas within an hour. Sometimes we have gone down and everything was okay and by the time you come up you may have 6 to 8 foots swells and remember you have to put a person in the water. When that person is in the water it is very tough for that person that is recovering the submersible because he is the one outside, not only exposed to the weather but exposed to all of the dangers, of the boat moving and heavy equipment all around him - that is always very hairy - everybody is on the edge. Fortunately we have always been able to recover the submersible safely.
It's not an easy career, just like most jobs there are things that are not so glorious, there are times when we all get dirty. Let's say a battery fails, the battery is immersed in oil, the oil gets very nasty, there could be acid on it. When things get flooded they corrode and they get muddy, we have pictures of all of us covered in dirt. Sometime we have to work 20 hours straight to get the sub running, so of course there are some part of the job which are not glorious, but nevertheless there is always the satisfaction that you are capable of contributing to the success of a mission.