Author: Kerrie Forster

Mark Ranson – 2022 Merchant Navy Medal Award


Mark Ranson has this weekend, on International Merchant Navy day (Sep. 3rd), been awarded the 2022 Merchant Navy Medal for Meritorious Service.

The award was made to Mark for his services to workboat safety standards and training, he will be 1 of a group of 14 persons who collectively have been awarded the 2022 award, to be presented on the 22nd November.


Read the Gov.UK announcement here

Mark Ranson became the Workboat Association’s Secretary in 2011, later becoming the CEO, before taking over the reigns as Chairman for a year from 2019-2020.

He was previously awarded the 2019 European Commercial Maritime Awards ‘Maritime Professional of the Year’ for his work with the Workboat Association.

This latest award signifies a large number of safety and training related activities that Mark has been a part of thought his career. From; developing the first ISM system in the wake of the Herald of Free Enterprise Capsize, to nurturing Mass Evacuation Systems. A dedicated, long-serving, stalwart of the WA and his local maritime training centre HOTA, to working many years within the towage sector as a safety expert (and many more to list).


Mark retired from the WA in 2020, though he continues working in his role on the board of HOTA and looking after his small-holding;

Member Profile: Taras Pavlyuk, AST Applied Telematics

Harvey Tebay caught up with Taras Pavlyuk of AST Applied Telematics to find out more about his background and his role within the organisation


What is your career background?

I completed a degree in Business Computing and took a year travelling in 2009. I started my sales career working for an insurance broker Adrian Flux, specialising in classic car insurance . I moved into recruitment industry concentrating on IT and software market, gaining knowledge through my university degree assisted me with technical terminologies and full understanding of the clients requirements. Then two and a half years ago I joined AST, where I am now the lead for ASTs advanced vessel performance monitoring technology.


What first drew you towards maritime?

Coming from recruitment background, my initial knowledge of the maritime sector was slim, however the advantage for me was the fact a number of my clients that I had already built a strong professional relationship with were actually within the maritime industry. Knowing their backgrounds and the projects they were working on, such as renewables energy etc, gave me a much better overview of the maritime sector which became incredibly appealing.


What is your role at your AST Telematics and how does a day in your life look?

I am a Technical Sales Engineer at AST, my role involves a mixture of new business enquiries and account management to our existing customers. We provide software as a service, therefore my aim is to make sure each client gets the best value from our data technology. Every day/week is varied as I do a lot of travelling to customers sites for product demonstration (especially now as travel restrictions are lifted), engaging with product development by gathering customer feedback on how we can improve our platform. I enjoy attending conferences and maritime events as it gives great opportunity to network with new and existing clients, and it helps me to understand the latest industry trends.


What is your motivator at work?

For me is being able to deliver and exceed what is expected from us by our customers and beating our competition (gentlemanly), that’s a really good feeling.


In both your previous and current roles, what have been some of the standout activities that you have been involved with?

For me the stand out activities has been winning big contracts such as with ABP and North Star Shipping, receiving full trust from end user customers that we can meet their expectations across their whole assets.


What are your hobbies outside of work?

I keep myself fairly active outside work as I am keen golfer, currently a member of a links golf course in Norfolk. I like to keep physically in shape, so tend to go to the gym at least 3 times a week – providing time is on my side. I am also a proud father to our beautiful daughter, who is just over 10 months old now, so very much enjoy our family time and outings.


What advice do you give to anyone interested in a career within maritime?

At first when I was joining the maritime sector, I thought it was going to be so huge that I would struggle getting to terms with all its details and intricacies, however in fact its not big at all! Everyone seem to know everyone, all very friendly, assisting each other with the latest trends and possibilities. There are some really exciting projects happening, particularly within the offshore industry, which is so exciting to be part of. Its definitely a fascinating and rewarding industry.


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Event: How to manage Cyber Risk on Workboats

Safe Maritime Operations in Aquaculture Conference

The UK’s first Maritime Safety Conference specific to the Aquaculture Industry


Join regulators, experts, influencers and industry leaders for 2 days of interactive training, development and networking. Subjects to be covered include; Maritime Regulation, Best Practice, Challenges and available help/solutions.

This is a strictly not-for-profit event, all registration fees are used to cover the event costs

Download the flyer and agenda here: Safe maritime operations in aquaculture conference


Register interest below:

Launch of the 2nd Edition Alcohol and Drug misuse within the workplace GPG


Today the Workboat Association launches the second edition of its guidance on the control of alcohol and drug misuse within the workplace.

The Good Practice Guide can be viewed via our WA On Demand site or downloaded freely via the Training and Good Practice webpage.


Special thanks goes to the UK MAIB for their help in supplying information for and reviewing the document.

Member Profile: Rob Wanless, Rix Shipping Company


What is your career background?

After two years in farming after leaving school, I joined John H Whitaker (Tankers) who operated twenty-five tanker barges on the river Humber involved in the transportation of fuels and bunkers. After ten years I moved to the JR Rix Group selling fuels, then routing and planning the barge bunker deliveries, with general operational duties and latterly full crewing responsibilities.


What first drew you towards maritime?

Living near busy ports I was always drawn to watching vessels loading/unloading and manoeuvring and at an early age enjoyed travelling on Ferries, plus the canal barges held an interest for me. Fishing was very big at the time and the port of Hull had a proud heritage, and with this and all the subsider activities, I guess that was my destiny!

What is your role at Rix Shipping and how does a day in your life look?

I am the crewing manager for Rix Shipping covering the CTVs, Barges and Sea going ships. A typical morning starts with a routine tracking of the vessel locations and a look at the up-and-coming projects, checking the manning requirements for each vessel according to the charter and the safe manning certificates. Each day is different but involves much communication, tact and “persuasion”!

What is your motivator at work?

Seeing the vessels sail with a good crew who work well together. One of the big things in recruitment is not only the experience and certification of the crew, but they have to also work well together as they spend more time living with colleagues than family.

In both your previous and current roles, what have been some of the standout activities that you have been involved with?

Sense of achievement when all deliveries were made to schedule keeping the clients happy and ensuring they will always use us again. There is much satisfaction when we see a trainee deckhand progress to be a skipper.

What are your hobbies outside of work?

I like to go to big music venues having played in bands in my younger days. Also, enjoy family time in the countryside

What advice do you give to anyone interested in a career within maritime?

It is a rewarding varied career with ever-changing technologies, especially in the renewables sector. It is one of the most essential industries to the UK and globally, and it will always be so.


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The Workboat Association at Seawork 2022

The Workboat Association is pleased to announce their attendance at Seawork, 21 – 23 June 2022 in Mayflower Park, Southampton.

The Workboat Association Pavilion is situated in Hall 3 (C).

A number of members are showcasing within the Pavilion, they are:

  • Acta Marine
  • Everards Insurance
  • Green Marine
  • Hoylake Sailing School/JPMA
  • Mainprize Offshore
  • Mainstay Marine
  • Marshall Jakeman Marine
  • Offshore Turbine Services
  • Windcat Workboats

The full list of events throughout the week can be seen in the attached poster: WA at Seawork 2022 Poster

Workgroups and Safety Forum

  • Feel encouraged to drop into our Safety Forum or Technical Forum at Seawork, they are open to everybody (members and non-members).

Workboat Association Reception

  • The Reception is being held to celebrate the Workboat Association Pavilion and the reuniting of the industry after the pandemic.
  • The event will be held in Hall 3 (C) and will feature drinks, nibbles and entertainment.

Annual Members Dinner

To find out more about Seawork 2022 here or click here for directions.


We hope to see as many of you there as possible.

Member Profile: Vikrant Bharat, Vessconn Maritime

One of the Workboat Association’s newest members, Vik Bharat gives us an insite into his business – Vessconn Maritime.

– Can you introduce us to Vessconn Maritime?

VM is a company which offers transparent connections and collaborations between multiple stakeholders; like vessel operators and the providers of supplies, services and training. Contributing towards the continued digitisation and optimisation of the maritime sector, with an emphasis on creating value for all parties by ensuring that the resources of our customers remain focused on their core job. VM aims to empower its stakeholders, by providing integrated, on-demand digital solutions, combined with strategic and administrative support functions which will improve operational efficiency, streamline business processes, and uncover valuable insights that will drive profits and growth for its users.

– What is your career background?

I am a Master Mariner professionally, my career in the maritime industry has been a very versatile one. I started my deep sea sailing at the age of 17. After sailing for more than 15 years (in various roles from Cadet to ship’s Master) I came ashore where I was then involved in many more varied designations; from education and training to safety management, then setting up a commercial operations department and studying myself! These opportunities provided me a close insight into the merits and demerits of processes and procedures within Maritime. I completed my MBA from Middlesex University in 2012.

– How did you first develop the idea?

During my career at sea and ashore there were many instances where I found that my time was being wasted in carrying out trivial tasks, I could have devoted that time in doing more important core jobs which could have benefitted the company in a bigger way. I carried this question throughout my journey and especially during my career ashore, how to bring in the concept of “Lean” into routine maritime operations? The answer and idea was simple, through “Digitalisation”, which we all know is crucial to the future of maritime and the worlds economics.

– What first drew you towards maritime?

Alluring job prospects, the opportunity to roam around the world, to live and work with multinational people, to learn transferable skills and above all – to start early in life. Some of my friends were still studying while I started earning and expanding my career.

What do you see as the greatest concern in vessel procurement?

My greatest concern is how to choose the right vendor /right supplier, as a lot of companies provide very similar products & services. Making the right choice is essential, as the end user is not working in the office but is working on board the vessel, at sea, where the right quality products do make a big difference (there is no ‘nipping to the shop’ to buy a new product if the original doesn’t function or perform correctly). For example: There is an well-known correlation when it comes to the food on board and the happiness of the crew, it might look an easy task to procure quality food products, however it has its unique challenges. Products of quality will keep the crew healthy, focused and happy. However, this comes at a cost and how many times when we order do we check if the supplier is HACCP (food safety) certified let alone check their ethics or reliability up-front?

– What is the recent news from Vessconn Maritime?

Vessconn Maritime is working to enhance its digital solution through AI and aims to provide a network – like a reef, which covers less than one percent of the ocean floor, but supports an estimated twenty-five percent of all marine life! Our vision is to establish a digital reef of maritime providers for services, supplies and training.
The plan is to evolve the model further on the principle of ‘One-way Multisided Platform’ to cause a network effect as it attracts multiple users to become the part of the reef. We are collaborating with high grade data solution companies that are helping us to unlock innovation and eventually to provide us with AI tools that will revolutionise the entire supply chain model within the industry.

– Do you see any trends in requirements for the Workboat Sector?

The most important requirement I see is to understand and capture emissions, similar to bigger ships. Currently the focus is to reduce the carbon footprint from our facilities and ships (also known as direct emissions). However, very soon industry will be asked to reduce its indirect emissions as well. Workboats have already started to obtain early technologies which will reduce sector emissions and have a demonstrative effect throughout the wider maritime industry. With so many things to think about and do, its worth mentioning that Vessconn Maritime can assist the workboat owners/operators by making short-lists and suggestions for trusted and experienced supply chain services. Taking a lot of time and stress away from the vessel management to concentrate on the bigger picture.

– What are your hobbies outside of work?

I like to visit nature reserves, I enjoy playing Golf and sometimes get to play the drums with my son on his guitar by my side.