Category: Member Profile

Member Profile: Ruari McLachlan, McLachlan Marine

Ruari takes us into the world of McLachlan Marine, a Workboat Operator based in Aberdeen, Scotland.

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Who is McLachlan Marine, How did it start and when?

I grew up at Stonehaven Harbour, Aberdeenshire and have always had a passion for the sea. Following a mixed background with boats and volunteering for the RNLI, I pursued my commercial endorsements and entered the Workboat industry prior to starting the business in 2011.

The companies first boat was the Lady Gail II “a small sea angling business” know as Castle Charter & Marine Services in Stonehaven, I used my commercial experience to diversify into the Workboat industry via supporting Survey works, and since then we have expanded year on year and now operate and offer many diverse contracts. 

Due to our independent capabilities, innovation, and flexibility, along with the excellent customer service we have succeeded with rapid growth.

What is your operational expertise?

Our main experience is Seabed Surveys, Safety boats, Marine civils support and Crew Transfers on local windfarms, I am proud to remain closely involved in the day to day operations of the fleet and can often be found on board getting hands-on in projects of all sizes!

A main pillar of our experience is undoubtedly our local knowledge and focus, we are proud to support the Aberdeen Harbour Expansion Project (that we have worked on since its inception) and our local windfarms.

What is your position in the company and how does a day in your life look?

I am the MD of the Company and every day is different, mainly fun… we play with boats!

We have a fantastic infrastructure here in NE Scotland, McLachlan Marine a large 1/2 acre site where our main office, workshops and storage are situated (between Aberdeen & Montrose Ports). We also have operations offices at all the local major harbours, plus a great operations & office team supporting our vessels, without their support we would not have achieved so much.

How many vessels do you operate and what types?

Our customers refer to our fleet as a “marine multitool” we have a boat for nearly every job!

McLachlan Marine currently operates a growing fleet of 9 Workboats, we have;

  • 3x Cabin Rib Safety boats
  • 2x Survey/CTV Catamarans
  • 2x Windfarm CTV’s
  • 2x Multipurpose Workboats.

How many employees do you have and where are they based?

In the peak we can have up to 30 staff working across the operations.

Most of fleet is based in the NE of Scotland in Aberdeen, but regularly we travel to support East Coast projects. For example; our 26m Ocean Titan just returned from Eyemouth after supporting a UXO campaign providing a stable platform for the Dive spread, ROV operations and Survey works all from the same vessel for the NnG Windfarm.

Have you been affected by the recent COVID-19 crisis and how have you overcome such challenges?

It’s a very challenging market just now, many projects in Scotland are currently on hold or have been postponed in to the 2021 season due to the current Scottish government guidelines.

We have our core team still working, carrying out maintenance to the fleet and supporting those local projects that are still operating for essential works.

To control the spread of the virus and protect our passengers and crew we have implemented new COVID-19 controls across our business. Our methodology, aims and continued work in this area has been well received by both our own workforce and our clients. 

What do you see as the 9 – 12 month challenges faced by the COVID-19 crisis for McLachlan Marine?

We are seeing more demand for our larger vessels (to allow increased social distancing on board) where a smaller vessel would often normally be used.

The past few months have been a challenge and to be open; it has impacted the business both commercially and operationally. As the next few weeks progress and presumably the restrictions are eased, we retain an optimistic approach with the hope of seeing more projects coming back on line.

Do you have any highlight stories from the McLachlan Marine history books?

In the last 6 months McLachlan Marine has invested in an additional two vessels.

Firstly: The previously mentioned 26m Survey / CTV catamaran for offshore survey work and crew transfers, now called “Ocean Titan” purchased from the well known Dutch workboat company Acta Marine.

And our second addition: The “Ocean Supporter”, a 19m Multipurpose Workboat from Meercat workboats, which strengthens our marine civils support operations.

These two purchases have both been a whole lot of fun, but have also required a lot of hard work form the whole team, to whom I’m very grateful. I am very proud of both vessels.

“I would like to use this opportunity to wish all WA members and our friends the best of health and a successful 2020 season, we will see you all soon.”

Ruari and team

Member Profile: Noor Kimit, Seaworthy Consulting

Find out about Noor and her reasons for starting Seaworthy Consulting

(Noor, pictured left with her colleague Nnekha, celebrating Seaworthy’s second birthday)

Who are Seaworthy Consulting?

Seaworthy Consulting is a recruitment agency providing crewing solutions, set up 2017 by myself following 8 years’ experience in Marine Recruitment sector.  

Knowing some Seafarers well – I could see how there was a gap in the market open for a consultancy business that would match clients’ crewing needs with the right Seafarer’s skills and competencies for a finder’s fee rather than through a payroll system.

My concept differs from many expectations, my ethos is not to take any money off the Seafarers day rate, but to charge only the client for my service as a freelancer’s fee.

This is a transparent, honest and radical way of working, meaning we get the best candidates approaching us as they are aware we will never miss-inform them about their day rates. It also means the vessel owners will not have to deal with day rate disputes on board, leading to vessel owners regularly receiving new crew to train and install competence to – due to crew not returning.

What maritime sectors do you work in?

Seaworthy Consulting provide crew and technical staff to the Workboat and Offshore Sector.

What does a day in your life look like?

I usually have a list of tasks to do, set-out during the day before. My day involves a lot of multi- tasking between live vacancies, speaking to client and candidates and making sure we are providing solutions to problems that may arise. Any non-designated time is spent qualifying and getting to know the crew that we are sending out.

Have you always had an interest in boats?

Not at a young age, I come from a family of Goldsmiths going back four generations. Being situated in Manchester, apart from Canal Barges, I am not really surrounded by boats – in fact, I graduated with a degree in Embroidery!

In a twist of fate my plan to work in the Fashion sector in London did not materialise, I applied for HR/Recruitment jobs locally to fund me staying in London, with the long-term ambition being get my dream job there as a Couture Embroidery designer. I landed a job recruiting within the maritime sector, and since then I have never looked back!

What is the highlight of your work for you?

My highlight is to resolve issues for clients at short notice, I have helped save many vessels from going off hire by providing relief crew on the weekends/ evenings or last minute requirements, my reward is knowing I have relieved stress and pressure from my clients and their crew.

Another enjoyable part of my work is supporting and placing [where practicable] graduate OOWs, seeing them in some cases become Master or even Managing Director.

It is also great to receive feedback from both clients and candidates that Seaworthy Consulting is trusted and respected for the professional service we offer.

Do you face any challenges?

Every day is a challenge, the maritime industry is very receptive to the global situation. We are constantly having to adapt to new conditions; including politics, war, medical pandemics, certificate regulation changes or acceptances, travel restrictions, Visas. But from these experiences we have learned how to adapt fast! We have great connections in the industry to help us with up to date and clear advice – like the Workboat Association for example.

What are your interests outside of the office?

I am an Ambassador for The Princess Trust, I raise awareness for this great charity which is helping many young individuals every day to develop their skills or business. Speaking personally, I was not diagnosed with dyslexia until my late teens, I try to share my experiences with others and provide them with confidence and inspiration to keep trying, eventually (I hope) to succeed in their own endeavours.

The rest of my time is spent with my family, I still enjoy my embroidery projects, which are now my hobby.

If you had ‘one wish’ to make a change in the Workboat Industry, what would it be?

I would like to see the Workboat industry become wider recognised and respected as an integral part of the overall maritime community, they are the key-stones of nearly every other marine sector.

I guess I would wish that the regulations and policies continue to be actively developed and where necessary added, to protect the Workboat industry and allow for it to work more efficiently and effectively connected with the larger tonnage sectors regarding training, safety, expectations and regulations.

Member Profile: John Spencer, GPS Marine Contractors

This month John explains the background of GPS Marine Contractors, tells us more about himself and highlights some of the challenges that GPS are focused to overcome.

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Who are GPS Marine Contractors and what is your role in the company?

GPS Marine Contractors is the operator of the most tugs and the largest fleet of barges (in terms of tonnage) on the Thames. GPS Marine carries approx. 750,000 to !m tonnes of cargo on the Thames annually under long term contracts. GPS Marine also contracts to provide marine logistics and barge transport services in support of major contracts, these can more than double the annual tonnages carried on the Thames. GPS Marine also carries our dredging and marine civil engineering contracts and provides support to dredging and marine civils contracts throughout the UK and the coastal states of mainland Europe.

My role in the company is the strategic development of the business. On the Thames this is by promoting and developing the benefits to be gained from modal shift to water transport, such as reduced emissions, improved air quality reduced traffic congestion, reduced road wear and fewer construction related road traffic accidents. Further afield my aim is to enable to business to meet the challenges created by Brexit and the green revolution in shipping. I am also tasked with developing our marine civils operations such that it can undertake larger contracts and work further afield. In addition I am responsible for the full implementation of documented and audited safety management systems throughout the entire business.

What are the ambitions for GPS?

GPS Marine Contractors aims to provide water fed construction materials transport hubs in West, Central and East London and in Essex / Kent. GPS Marine also aims to develop outside the Thames by adding value to its current offering. To do this the business will invest to ensure that it is more than a workboat hire organisation such that it can provide packages of craft and contract in its own right predominantly using its own equipment to reduce associated risk.

What markets and where do you currently operate?

GPS Marine operates in freight transport by barge, marine civils, dredging and bunkering on the Thames. We also deliver bunkers on the Thames and operate in the European charter market for tugs, multicats, hopper and pontoon barges.

What did your career look like before today?

I started as a marine engineer, working on marine civils plant, tugs and coasters. I then went to see in our own coastal fleet and as tug master on the Thames before coming ashore and starting to get involved in management. My whole life has been centred around small ships, tugs and craft engaged in dredging and marine civils.

What does a day in your life look like?

These days I spend my life behind a desk. I am no longer involved in day to day operations, crewing or the technical management of the fleet. Safety and the commercial aspects of running and developing the business are at the centre of just about every day. What hasn’t changed over the years is that mine is still the “phone of last resort”. Somebody has to do it and I can’t let that role go – my phone is on and next to me 24/7/365.

What are the current challenges you face at GPS?

Our biggest challenges today are:

  1. To ensure that a positive safety culture exists throughout our business
  2. To persuade local government that transporting goods by water is a sustainable, modern and environmentally sound proposition
  3. To locate and open wharves for freight
  4. To improve the environmental impact of our activities
  5. To manage the effects of Brexit [and COVID-19] in the best way we can

What is your motivator at work?

My motivator is just to try to be the best at what we do. That isn’t just about making the most money, it’s about doing what we do right. Keeping the kit right, providing good jobs, making the employees part of the enterprise. It’s about looking to make the most of the opportunities and the challenges that lie ahead, every day, week, month and year.

Member Profile: Ian Oxford, High Speed Transfers

Ian tells us his story, what brought the HST team together and about their companies services and operation.

Who are High Speed Transfers and what is your role within the company?

High Speed Transfers (HST) are an Owner and Operator of Crew Transfer Vessels (CTVs) and General Purpose Vessels and my role in the company is Chief Financial Officer.

What are the ambitions for HST?

These are exciting times in the Renewables Industry, EU countries are looking to reduce their carbon emissions significantly and some challenging targets have been set. HST are looking to be an integral part of the necessary marine support offered to end clients to help work towards these goals.

In what markets and where are you currently operating?

HST predominantly operates in offshore Europe but we have a Joint Venture in place within the United States and we are also working in collaboration with our partner in Taiwan.

What did your career look like before today?

Very different, 10 years ago I was working in Mombasa, Kenya for a Maritime Logistics company. It was here that I met my current business partners, Tom Nevin and Chris Monan. We worked supporting a number of Oil & Gas majors offshore East and West Africa and in 2015 I was working out of the Middle East. I returned to the UK in 2016 and enrolled on a part time MBA course at Southampton University. In 2017, Tom, Chris and I set about establishing HST and just over 6 months later, we took delivery of the first Damen FCS 2710 at Seawork boat show, Southampton and HST was operational!

What does a day in your life look like?

The last 18 months have been incredibly busy, the company have been purchasing and building another 3 x Damen FCS 2710s in the last financial year’ [2019].

There is always the daily pressure of ensuring the vessels are operating efficiently and effectively and that there is future work for them. To help with this, we have expanded the team, securing the employment of some very experienced and qualified individuals, and this allows us to continue to look for the next opportunities with great enthusiasm.

What are the current challenges you face at High Speed Transfers?

We do have challenges facing HST, though they are also very exciting times; as previously stated – we are at a stage where our Clients are looking to significantly reduce their carbon footprint. As an integral part of the supply chain, HST need to be looking towards the future and ensuring we align our business accordingly to meet our Clients expectations and objectives.

We also have the current issue (as does much of the CTV industry) of waiting on Inter-domestic Certificates of Equivalency for the High Speed – Offshore Service Craft Code, but with excellent support from the Workboat Association and the UK Flag (MCA), we hope that this will be resolved in the immediate future.

Brexit poses a number of key questions, including Cabotage, the movement of personnel and their equipment and the management of vessel spares. But again, with the help and dedicated support of the Workboat Association, the MCA and the UK Department for Transport – we remain confident that HST will be able to continue operations in offshore Europe.

What is your motivator at work?

Knowing that we are working for ourselves is a great motivator and although the business requires a great deal of time, effort and commitment, there is a tremendous amount of satisfaction when we achieve our goals. We have an excellent team at HST who not only work to very high standards, they are always there to support each other. Surrounding ourselves with great people is also a fantastic motivator to keep striving forward and providing the best solutions for our clients.

Association Revisited: The Conception of the Workboat Association

Norman Finlay MBE, FCMS: First Secretary of the Workboat Association gives his story on how the Association was conceived and some of the challenges it has overcome.

“Tom explained what they wanted to do, we were to create a Code that would be a combination of the best Industry Practice and the necessary Statuary Regulations “…

How did the (then called National Workboat Association) first become formed.

In 1994 I was elected President of the Society of Consulting Marine Engineers and Ship Surveyors and in that position I was a top table guest at the annual dinner in London of The Institute of Naval Architects. Sitting next to me at the dinner was Tom Allen of the then MSA (Maritime Safety Agency), Tom was at the time head of a new Code section which had just finalised a new safety code for Commercial Pleasure Vessels 

We got on well together since it transpired that he had been born about 400 yards from me in Belfast and that he had been for a short time my Brother’s Apprentice in the famous Harland & Wolfs Shipyard in Belfast. He asked me if I thought that our Society would like to become a Certifying Authority for these new Codes.

After a little thought I suggested to him that a good sector to target any new work towards would be Workboats, (this being based on my 19 years’ experience with these vessels at the Westminster Dredging Company). He responded “do you mean Tugs?”, “No!” I replied  “all those smaller boats working with Marine Civil Engineers doing harbour works , laying buoys, anchors, carrying out local towage ,assisting with dredging and surveying  but generally doing  jobs not carried by tugs. I  explained about the new Multicats and Eurocarriers and the type of work that they carried out”.

He explained that he was a ‘Big Ship Man’ and that he did not have any experience of these  types of vessels. I arranged for him to meet me in Southampton and I showed him some of the local Workboats.  Tom soon agreed with what I had suggested for a new code, but in order to take the matter forward – he would like to meet with representatives of the Industry and explain the possibilities. I was tasked with arranging the Industry Representatives. 

Through my experience as both an Operator and Surveyor I knew many of the other Workboat Owners and Operators. I talked it through with several contacts and soon a small group of the more influential and enthusiastic Owners had formed and we were keen to get something sorted out and agreed. 

At that time one big problem the Workboat industry faced was the fact that there was no legislation suited for these types of vessels and problems often arose if a vessel was inspected by an MCA Surveyor. Recommendations from Surveyors often differed and at times it caused a lot of unnecessary cost and delay for Owners. For those involved a new standard Code would be a great step forward.

In the Autumn of 1994 a meeting was held at the MCA offices in Spring Place, Southampton with representatives from the MCA, Class, possible Certifying Authorities and Workboat Owners [both large and small]. Tom explained what they wanted to do, we were to create a Code that would be a combination of the best Industry Practice and the necessary Statuary Regulations.  After a lengthy discussion, it was agreed by those present that the scheme was in the best interests of the Industry and the Code was conceived.

Who were the original Members

  • Norman Finlay: Independent Surveyor, President of the SCMS
  • Colin Weaver:   Marine Superintendent, Westminster Dredging Ltd.
  • Mark Meade:  Holyhead Towing Co. Ltd. /  Owner
  • Dirk Kuyt:          Maritime Craft,  Clyde, Ltd / Owner
  • Mike Stansfeld:    Coastal Launch Services Ltd. / Owner
  • Peter Smith:           Marine Director, Williams Shipping Ltd.

What was your role during those early days

After the initial meeting the National Workboat Association was formed with Colin Weaver being elected as Chairman. I acted as Secretary (general dogsbody!) until the year 2011 when Mark Ranson was elected as the Association’s Secretary.

Shortly after the Code was finalised Colin Weaver stood down as Chairman and in the year 2000 Mark Meade was elected in his place. Part of my role was to liaise with the MCA regarding Members queries (of which there were many) and to advise the members on what they could and could not do. The Code favoured Classed vessels and since many of the older fleet were not Classed; it was quite a chore getting the necessary approvals in place to issue certificates.

Did the structure of the Association quickly become what it is today or did this take time to develop.

When the Code was completed in 1998 it was agreed that due to the wide variation in both age and types of vessel it would be put in place on a voluntary basis until the 31st December 1999, after which it would become a Statuary Document and a requirement for all Workboats and Pilot Boats which put to sea. One of the benefits of the voluntary period was that it sorted out some of those Owners who were not keen to put the time and effort in to bring their vessels up to the required standards causing them to leave the Industry thus making it a safer place to work for those still working in it.

Initially there was a lot of interest in the Association from the industry in general but gradually it developed into a group of Owners / Operators who wished to set Industry Standards and who were willing to expand their business and also work overseas. It took time to develop the industry but slowly and surely Owners and their fleets have developed,  moved forwards and are now working all over the world.

Development overall was slow but steady, however when the Offshore Windfarms started to be constructed it brought a new dimension to the Industry which required some different types of vessels, ones that could carry more people and travel much faster than before. Also with the development of the original vessel types and their ability to work further afield and Overseas – it became apparent that there was a need for a new type of Crew Certificate. When the Workboat Code was first envisaged there were no Certificates available at that level, for someone to be considered the “Master of the Vessel”.  It was agreed however that the existing RYA certificates would be acceptable for work within the UK area and personnel were encouraged to get these.  This was fine for UK Operations but as more and more vessels were working Overseas it became apparent that due to the requirements of other Flag States; a different approach was required.  A request was made to the MCA for them to consider agreeing to a special certificate for Masters of Workboats. Their response was the offer to put in place a 200 ton Certificate which would cover the necessary Workboat requirements and which they felt would be acceptable to other Flag States. This offer was accepted and put into practice and has been a great success, so much so that there is now a follow up 500 ton certificate in place.

Another first for the Association was the Voluntary Towing Endorsement which Masters could qualify for to show that they had the experience and knowledge to safely and professionally carry out the towage operations.

As previously stated progress was slow but sure, however at all times the Association has tried to anticipate what was going to be required in the future and take the necessary steps to ensure that nothing got in the way of progress. Safety of vessels and personnel has at all times been paramount.

What was one of your big highlights since the Associations conception.

There have several highlights for me personally during this period, one was being awarded the  “ Lifetime Achievement award “at Seawork in 2013 and another was the award of the MBE from the Queen for services to shipping which I know was put forward by the Association.

However one other thing which gives me great pleasure is the dinner which takes place at Seawork.  When we started the Association it was agreed that we would support Seawork as both an organisation and individuals. However it soon became clear that a lot of our members knew each other through telephone conversations about business but had never actually met face to face.  With that in mind my wife and I thought it would be good for the members to meet socially – and so we organised a barbecue in the garden of our house! 

We originally started with about 40 guests, but over the ensuing years this number doubled and we transferred the venue to the Chilworth Manor Hotel which my wife arranged for many years with the hotel being very accommodating and cost conscious to the Association. The barbecues and dinners were a great success and I got a lot of pleasure from seeing the members enjoying themselves. It was also very good for the Association since it fostered a good trusting and open atmosphere amongst the members.

What occupies your time these days.

These days I am, I suppose, retired – but I still do some vessel valuations and occasionally do a little bit of consulting on specialist topics. I also still attend meetings with the MCA on matters concerning the Code and Workboats, but generally I hope for each quiet sunny day when I can have my coffee on the terrace and reflect on what used to be!

Member Profile: Chris Stopford, Alphasea Marine

Indvidual Corporate Member ‘Chris Stopford’ provides us a view into his career and the world of a Self-Employed Mariner.

What is the history of Alphasea Marine Ltd?

I began working as ‘Alphasea Marine Ltd’ originally in 2002 to fulfil a Leisure and Small Commercial Vessel delivery service, as well as numerous local and near European vessel deliveries; it included the deliveries of two ex-Admiralty Tugs’ to destinations in the Mediterranean and Trans-Atlantic.

What projects are you currently involved in?

The mainstay of my current business in 2020 is to provide relief cover of Masters or Deckhands in the CTV industry. It has provided full-time employment in the past, however due to the nature of the Windfarm CTV business, last minute cover is often required when full-time crew are unable to attend. It means being fast, flexible and able to complete various inductions at short notice, this linked with the ability to travel and learn new management systems and vessel layouts quickly.

What was your background before ASM?

A life spent at sea, but not doing the same thing.  I left school at 16 and started commercial fishing in the Thames Estuary. An astute fishing skipper taught me at that young age the art of dead reckoning using a compass, clock and depth sounder and it inspired me to learn more!  For 15 years I fished around most of the UK in various vessels, but Scalloping in the Irish Sea and Trawling from Whitby were the most memorable, as well as a season on Seine netters on Dogger Bank [from Grimsby]. This was before modern mechanical rope-drums; lifting and stowing coils of rope on deck from the Beccles rope coiler was my job, doing 18 day trips on a wooden 55 footer! 

After some time, and with the decline of the fishing  fleet, I sold my fishing business and sailed away to Mediterranean with my wife and 2 children.  Whilst living in the south of France fate led me to becoming Captain on a 55m Private Yacht with 12 crew for the next 12 years.  – Although Mediterranean based, every winter we went to the Caribbean, Florida or oppositely to the Seychelles. 

On returning to live in UK, I operated as an RYA Instructor on the Scottish West Coast before starting as a CTV Master and Marine Superintendent in the Offshore Wind sector [2009 onwards].

What services do you offer?

Along with the previously mentioned; I have learnt how important a good network is in this industry! It’s a case “who you know” and what you can do for them.

In recent years the following projects have all been completed:-

  • The setting up of a training scheme for a Jackup barge business, training aimed at the recruitment of new entrants into the Jackup sector. Providing a tailor made training system to introduce new recruits to the marine aspect of the Jackup industry. We put large emphasis on ropework, knots, splices and heaving lines, as well as classroom activities that were relevant to their job. This covered learning sessions on weather and tides, and a basic introduction to safe working practices for life on a Jackup.
  • I often perform vessel inspections and thorough/practical Sea-trialing to determine maneuvering characteristics and vessel/equipment condition for purchasing, modifications, reparations or other.
  • In-depth research projects into practical aspects of technological developments for Workboats. Example:- if  a company introduces a new product or idea for a vessel, how will it affect the vessels operations and the crews familiarisation or need for further training.
  • Crewing services
  • Vessel deliveries
  • Dry-dock or project based Superintendence works
  • I am also working part-time as a Duty Harbour Master for a small Port, it involves hands-on operation with a large variety of different sized vessels on a routine basis

What has been the most memorable Workboat experience so far?

So many to choose from! But, there are a few highlights;

Once I was guided by a VTS authority to a large object adrift in hazy conditions by their radar. We duly assessed that it was a large ships mooring buoy that was loose, we conducted a retrieval operation of the buoy as it was risk to shipping.

Similarly, another VTS warned us one day, of a large piece of timber spotted by a small vessel adrift in a major harbour. We offered to recover it, which they accepted, and it ended up becoming the large feature lintel over our fireplace in the new house I was building at the time!

An ongoing experience I get great pleasure from, is seeing younger crews and career starters gain valuable skills and confidence through my (and other peers) guidance and instruction.

Do you find it easy to transfer skills across the various sectors of the maritime industry you are involved in?

With some caution, yes.  For example, one particular technician I remember being a regular passenger onboard one of my vessel, taught me everything I needed to know about carrying out lifting operations safely. His clear precise attitude, his toolbox talks, coaching, energy and his dedication to the operation is something I often use and have never forgotten.

It comes back to my statement earlier about meeting and working (and learning) from people you respect.  Only when you have worked with someone who has confidently and clearly shown you a new skill, can you start to implement it.

What advice could you offer any persons looking to go self-employed within the water-based maritime industry?

Self-employment in the marine industry is (I think), becoming less popular. As the workboat industry continues to mature, I have seen more companies employing crews as full time employees rather than contractors or sole proprietors/ sole traders. Offering services under a limited company, with associated liability insurance, has been a requirement in obtaining work in the past, but that has in my eyes ‘evolved’ rather than being a planned event.

Think carefully before jumping into self-employment, especially if you have domestic financial commitments. But, I am proud of Alphasea and what it [I] has achieved over the years. If anyone wants the challenge of self-employment, then “nothing succeeds like success!”.

Member Profile: Ray Douds, Port Of Tyne

How long have you been working at the Port Of Tyne and what is your current role?

I joined the Port Of Tyne just over seven years ago as the Marine Services Manager. I have responsibilities to deliver safe and efficient maritime services to meet the needs of our customers and clients alike. Principally I am responsible for the safe and efficient management of the Ports commercial Workboats, Pilot Launches, MultiCat Plough Dredger, and Hydrographic Survey Vessel. – Another key aspect of my role is to ensure that these vessels are both maintained and certified in strict compliance with the Workboat Code.

What is the history and current main operations at the Port Of Tyne?

Once world-renowned for coal exports – the Port of Tyne has diversified in recent times to ensure it can keep pace with the global economy and its customers’ varying needs. It is now one of the UK’s largest deep-sea ports, one of Europe’s largest car exporters and one of the largest handlers of wood pellet in the world.

With the mission of creating a vibrant and sustainable Port recognised for outstanding customer service and as a great place to work and do business. The Port receives no government funding, it is run on a commercial basis and reinvests all profits back into the Port for the benefit of all of its stakeholders, who are customers, employees, business, government and the community.

Operating in bulks, break-bulk, offshore, rail-freight, automotive logistics, cruise and ferry, and, port centric logistics, the Port also has a portfolio of commercial property. Offering unrivalled agility, security and flexibility for global shippers, manufactures and retailers.

When and where did you first start your career within the maritime sector?

I began my maritime career eighteen years ago right here in South Shields, serving ten years with the local Shields Ferry Service. In that role I was responsible for the operation of up to three 350 passenger vessels (Class 5) and their crews, along with ensuring strict compliance with all relevant MCA codes of practice.

Do you get to go to sea often in your role?

The main body of my role involves an obvious amount of office based managerial activities, I do however try my best to get out onto the water whenever the opportunity arises, whether this be on a fine summers day or an inclement winters evening. I genuinely believe that you should always maintain an ‘on the job’ realisation of your deliverable services. Sea-trials following major engineering works being one of my favourite excuses to escape the office!

Are there any projects or big news for the Port Of Tyne coming in the near future?

Port Of Tyne is preparing to take advantage of its close proximity, (closer than any other port to some of the world’s largest offshore wind farms). Only 96 nautical miles from Dogger Bank, it is ideally placed to become a major centre for the manufacture and maintenance of these wind farms.

Investing in the long term – the Port’s ‘Tyne 2050‘ strategic aims will see it devise an infrastructure master plan and land usage plan by 2021. In a bid to make port infrastructure ‘future proof’ in the face of increasing vessel size by incorporating plans for automisation and new technology by 2030. Tyne 2050 also sees the Port aspire to become a clean energy test bed by 2025 and be all-electric by 2040.

Utilising new technology and open innovation through the UK’s first maritime Innovation Hub; the Port of Tyne is already collaborating with sector representatives to meet the challenges facing the “blue economy” and to provide solutions across the spectrum of maritime logistics.

What gives you the best reward in your daily role?

When heading out to work, I genuinely look forward to the day ahead and the challenges it may bring – as every day is certainly different! Having worked within the maritime sector for almost twenty years I find myself able to effectively deliver the needs of the business in-line with the requirements of our customers. However, the best reward without doubt has to be applying my experience to ensuring the operational safety of our staff.

If you had one “Christmas wish” to benefit the Port of Tyne, what would it be?

Please can we have a new Pilot Boat and another one of those ‘big blue Quayside Cranes’!