BEING an assistant project manager at Keppel Singmarine comes with heavy responsibility. Mr Ong Chee Lam, 28, has to manage the schedules, costs and quality of its vessel-building projects.

The project he is currently involved in is the building of an underwater vessel for deployment in the Caspian Sea, in partnership with the company's shipyard in Baku, Azerbaijan.

The vessel will house an 18-man twin-bell diving system. This is lowered into the sea to allow divers to descend 600m to do construction on the seabed, such as pipeline works.

It is a complex system, which has to maintain the right pressure and right temperature for the divers at such depths.

Such projects come with myriad challenges. One of Mr Ong's major challenges is to coordinate the flow of information between the various vendors involved in the engineering design stage of each project.

"For example, how big the foundation should be, what kind of stress a certain part can take; these need to be communicated between the parties," he said.

Besides that, working internationally can mean language barriers. For this project in Azerbaijan, many local sub-contractors and their workers are not conversant in English.

Therefore, the supervisors are present during briefings to translate the important points into the local language.

"We also overcome this by visual representation, with drawings," said Mr Ong.

A typical day in Singapore at the shipyard sees him visiting the site in the morning and chairing a vessel safety coordination committee meeting. Work is planned at the meeting, so that potential danger is averted.

For instance, painting work is never done together with tasks that involve heat or fire, like welding.

Mr Ong, who graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering from Nanyang Technological University in 2011, went on to complete a Master of Science in systems and project management at the same institution this year.

The company, meanwhile, sent him for a financial course to help him in his cost control and budgeting role.

He said: "In university, I was a science and maths person. My financial knowledge was not so strong.

"This job has helped me acquire skills, like time management and financial savvy.

"Managing a shipbuilding project comes with a huge responsibility. It taught me to take responsibility for other aspects of my life, outside of work, too."