Our knowledge of the factors that affect safety and performance in complex system becomes outdated as the domain evolves. Increased activity and complexity in maritime offshore operations requires that we update our knowledge on which factors that affects safety and performance in these complex systems. The purpose of this study was to examine to which degree a model of expertise and a model of safety climate were sensitive to account for interview statements from operative marine officers regarding work practices in demanding maritime operation. Semi-structured interviews were conducted on 10 marine officers from anchor handling and tug support vessels (AHTS) and platform supply vessels (PSV). Based on an M-SWOT approach, statements were coded into the categories of each model. The results revealed that neither a model of expertise nor safety climate could alone account for all statements. Together, the chosen models could together account for 61.9 % of the total of 1947 identified statements. Qualitative analysis of the statements not accounted for by either models revealed several meaningful themes regarding work in demanding operations. The results demonstrate a useful insight to the complexity of working in demanding maritime operations and can provide several starting points for further research.