Author: Kerrie Forster

IR35 employment tax changes (UK) Workshop

On Thursday April 8th 2021 the WA, supported by Brookson Group and industry guests ran a Workshop focused on the implications of the new IR35 employment tax regulations.

“Brookson’s are a regulated law, finance and accountancy firm with over 20 years’ experience in self-employed finances.”


Following on from our introduction at the recent Safety Forum into IR35 this specially organised event focusing purely on IR35. The event covered training on the new regulations, tailored information directed to vessel owners and crew managers and included a panel Q&A session.


The Workshop re-watched on demand here:

R&D Tax returns Webinar – ForrestBrown

On the 21 April, the WA joined up with ForrestBrown, the UK’s largest specialist R&D tax relief consultancy, to deliver this WBA specific 30-minute webinar.

ForrestBrown’s marine sector specialist Mike Harrison and Adam Kotas CTA explained:

  • How marine businesses can claim R&D tax relief
  • How to capture the full value of your R&D work
  • How to claim securely and protect your business from risk


The recording of the webinar can be watched on demand here: 

Members Profile: Alec Laing, ACL Shipbrokers

Meet Alec, a UK based Workboat Shipbroker. Alec began his Shipbrokers career following service in the Parachute Regiment, today he is a well-known name in the sector.


When and why did you start ACL Shipbrokers?

I started ACL Shipbrokers five years ago, with the objective of offering owners and operators a more bespoke shipbroking service, particularly in the workboat and port tug sectors.


What was your career before this?

After growing up and studying in Scotland, I served as an Officer in the Parachute Regiment for eight years. A large part of this service was on operations overseas. This gave me a lot of hands-on experience working under pressure which taught me to think on my feet and be adaptable. It also gave me an insight into geopolitics and the importance of world trade.

I had developed an interest in shipbroking and when an opportunity presented itself to work with DSB Offshore, a very well-respected broking house in London, I jumped at it. This was a great introduction to the industry, during which time I passed my Chartered Shipbroking exams and built the foundations of my career over the following seven years.


Can you remember your first experience with boats?

I have always had a passion for the sea taking every opportunity to get onboard vessels of any size, whether sailing as a youngster or volunteering for waterborne operations in the military. Today, whenever possible, I attend all vessel inspections to increase my knowledge of the way they operate. I still get a thrill being out on the water.


What are your specialisms?

As a company, Sale & Purchase of workboats, new and second hand, is our bread and butter. These range from marine construction and aquaculture boats to diving support vessels, both in the UK and on a worldwide basis. We also have a thriving Charter business where we assist owners in finding work for their vessels, both time charter and bareboat, and provide charter solutions to end clients on a project-by-project basis.

With discretion and integrity at the core of our approach, we are increasingly acting for clients as a trusted member of their team; assisting with organising independent surveys, deliveries and towage, amongst other services, often in far-flung parts of the world. This flexible and economic service is proving a real differentiator for us.


Where do you operate from and where have you worked?

We have our registered office in London, but I have been operating from a home office in Edinburgh for many years; efficient use of technology allows me to keep an eye on the business whilst being out and about gathering market intelligence and being of more value to my clients. I am happiest out on the road inspecting vessels and visiting clients anywhere I am required.


Have there been any ‘stand-out’ projects?

We were asked last year by a close Canadian client to search for a specific size and type of multipurpose workboat. After conducting very thorough research, I inspected a vessel with them in the Caribbean. Having priced up all delivery options, however, and based on our deep knowledge of the market, we ended up securing a very competitive newbuild vessel out of Europe. Our innovative approach resulted in the client getting exactly what he sought with an extremely attractive delivery cost – he was so pleased he also bought a sister vessel!

In another memorable engagement, we assisted the owners in selling a flattop barge from the South Coast of the UK to a Buyer on the Thames. We arranged the pre-purchase survey for buyers, the tow from the South Coast to the mouth of the Thames, and the taking over of the tow by a Thames-based tug. I also joined the crew for the tow up the Thames to the barge’s new home, which was a real highlight, as I was involved in every step of the process.

Our aim is to make our clients’ lives easier, not just offering them exactly what they are looking for based on our extensive market knowledge, but facilitating the whole transaction smoothly.


How do you see the global environmental and decarbonisation objectives affecting vessel markets over the next few years?

These will undoubtedly have a big impact on our sector. Managing vessels with a 30 to 40-year lifespan against such a rapidly changing regulatory and technological backdrop is a huge challenge. This is especially true in vessels such as workboats which can lack space in the engine room to retrofit mitigating solutions. Consequentially, residual values are likely to suffer.

As such we are doing a lot of work with clients to review their fleets’ efficiency and structure, helping them to future proof their businesses.


Do you see the European shipbuilding and manufacturing market remaining competitive against lower prices coming from distant competitors?

The global pandemic has made us pause and think about how and where we source goods from, including vessels. Home grown solutions are coming to the fore, with local production increasingly as prized as the lowest cost supply from abroad.

ESG considerations are also going to be more important in the supply of newbuild vessels over the coming years which may well play a more significant role than pure price alone.

Members Profile: Dan Zamai, S. Walsh and Sons

Dan recently started with S. Walsh and Sons, bringing to them both Thames experience and experience from the workboat sector in his homeland – Australia!


Who are S. Walsh and Sons and what are your specialisms?

S Walsh and Sons is a leading provider in rail, road, and river freight transport solutions in London, UK. We have a versatile fleet which operates in muck-away, aggregate delivery and civil construction operations.


When did you start with S. Walsh and What is your role?

My current role at S. Walsh is Marine Fleet Engineer. In broad terms, this involves the upkeep of all vessels whether it be certification, maintenance, dry docking, and reparations. I started the role in January 2021 having moved over from another barge and tug company in London.


Where did your interest with boating begin?
Growing up on the coast of Australia, I have always had a strong connection to the sea with many days spent surfing, fishing, or diving. Our family always had boats so my induction into boating began from a young age and I became particularly interested in work boats and their capabilities from early on. Over the years, my passion for the work boat industry has only grown and I am still as interested now as I was as a kid.


Where has your career taken you so far?
I started my first job on the water at age 13 working in the commercial fishing industry as a mate in New South Wales, Australia. At 22 I moved up to the Far North Queensland working as Relief Master and Chief Engineer on a multipurpose workboat. This involved various commercial projects including repairing weather stations 600nm offshore in the Coral Sea. After meeting my British partner on one of these projects, I moved to London where I started my UK career as Deputy Fleet Superintendent for a similar company working on the Tideway Tunnel Project. Our role was the towing and pushing of craft along the Thames delivering aggregate and transporting muck on the western sector.


Many people who work on the Thames say it is an extremely special place to work, can you support this?
The Thames can be such a busy place and there is so much variety. With a tidal range of 7m and tugs pushing and towing 1600t barges through navigational nightmares, such as bridges, piers, traffic, and varying tidal streams. It is a testament to the skills and knowledge acquired that the lighterman of the river have honed over 507 years. If you aren’t watching your air draft, you are watching your under keel clearance with 7 knots of tide. There is also a strong wildlife presence from a variety of water birds, seals and even the stray pilot whale.


Do you have a favourite vessel from the fleet?
This is a hard decision between the SWS Endurance (Damen Multicat) and the SWS Endeavour (Concordia Damen pusher tug CS874). However, I think the winner must be the SWS Endeavour which was launched at the end of 2020 to the highest standard. It has two Caterpillar C18 engines which operate two Twin Disc Veth Azimuth stern Drives. This is the first pusher tug on the river to have ASD propulsion. The ASD system has shown 100% control during difficult maneuvers with barges up to 2600t. The finish of the accommodation is akin to a modern hotel room with superior amenities to maximise comfort for long voyages on the vessel. The vessel also has an elevator wheelhouse which has an eye height limit of 13m.


What projects are you working on today?
S. Walsh are currently working on three main projects on the Thames, this includes muck away from Silvertown to East tilbury operating 2x1500t barges with another one of our pusher tugs (13.3m/elevating wheel house). The second contract is delivering aggregate from Dagenham to Fulham with 500t barges and a 1203 Damen stan tug 1205.

The last project is one that I believe has shown London how the river can supply a much more efficient way of aggregates and muck away with large volumes. Currently the project has moved 4 million tonnes of aggregate and taken 250,000 trucks off the road. Walsh have a number of sections on the project which use a small Damen pushy Cat, Damen Multi cat 1908 (2019) and a brand-new Concordia Damen pusher tug with the first ASD operated pusher vessel on the river Thames.


How do you think the Thames Maritime Community will change over the next few years to meet the UK’s Clean Maritime targets?

S. Walsh is now looking into a new renewable fuel source known as HVO which will replace the 10ppm low sulphur diesel. We also like to keep out fleet to a modern level with more efficient main engines and generators as they are built to highest emission standards. I know there has been hype into hybrid or fully electric engines and propulsion system on the Thames so we hope to see the technology be adequate for the everyday activities the river provides.


Do you see new opportunities on the Thames for helping reduce (greater) London’s emissions?
I see the Thames playing a critical part in the reduction of emissions throughout greater London. Already The tideway Tunnel project has shown how many trucks can be taken off the road. With already existing waste removal contracts by Cory Energy, parcel delivery for DHL and soon to be Sainsbury deliveries all by river. The Thames can be the key link to keeping one of the worlds most connected city, environmentally friendly.

Workboat Association signs Maritime UK Mental Health Pledge


“We advocate and are committed to making a positive difference through action and support, not just within our organisations but also across the UK maritime sector and the broader maritime community.”


April 2021, the Workboat Association signed the Maritime UK Mental Health Pledge following agreement to do so at the Q2/2021 Safety Forum.

The attendees at the forum unanimously agreed to support the pledge proactively and that the Workboat Association will hold a Mental Health in Maritime seminar within Q2 of 2021 to kick-off our efforts to raise awareness on the subject.


The full pledge including signatories can be viewed here:


For more information on this pledge and the wider range of work by the Maritime UK ‘Diversity in Maritime’ team visit:

Members Profile: Mel Lewis, Mainstay Marine

Mel Lewis is the Sales and Marketing Director at Mainstay Marine shipyard, a <40m vessel facility based in Pembroke Dock, West Wales.


“My most memorable projects are perhaps topped off by having the pleasure of showing Sir Michael Palin aboard the small survey workboat we designed and built for British Antarctic Survey and sits in a davit aboard RSS Sir David Attenborough. Named Erebus, Sir Michael was impressed with the capabilities of such a small vessel and signed my copy of his book ‘Erebus’.”

Who are Mainstay Marine?

Mainstay operates from Pembroke Dock in West Wales and offers services in three key areas:

1) Bespoke design, build, maintenance, refit and repair of workboats up to 40m, mainly in steel and aluminium;

2) Specialist marine engineering, fabrication and refurbishment services to the defence and renewable energy sector; and

3) Maintenance and repair of quay-side infrastructure.

How long have you been working for Mainstay Marine and what does your role include?

I have been with the company since January 2012, having previously worked for 23 years testing and evaluating military aircraft. I joined as Technical Director responsible for the in-house design and technical solutions department, using my knowledge and experience in the aircraft industry to enhance our offerings. In reality, it was more about listening and understanding the complex challenges the marine world presents and working with each customer to deliver solutions to meet their requirements. In 2019 I moved into the role of Sales and Marketing Director, seeking opportunities aligned to our company strategy and vision for the future. I work with an excellent team in the preparation of bids for all new build vessels and renewable energy device fabrications projects, as well as supporting vessel maintenance and repair services bid work. Attendance at Seawork, Aquaculture and numerous other sector events is, of course, a mandatory pleasure, being able to meet up with potential clients and visit our suppliers to catch up on the year past.

What are your hobbies and interests?

With a background in electronics and programming, I am very interested in exploitation of new technology developments. I am a keen photographer, although these days mostly on the iPhone rather than an SLR, and more recently capturing life from the air using my new drone, so keep an eye out for some aerial shots appearing on Mainstay’s social media shortly! Lockdown has, of course, affected us all in one way or another but mostly working from home these days and seeing my camper van wasting away on the drive reminds me of the emerging opportunities of getting away to music festivals again.

When did your Maritime Career start and how?

I recall a few fishing expeditions during my teens, long-lining in Cardigan Bay with my brothers, but feeling somewhat seasick from the excitement! I chose to stay on firm ground and pursue a career in electronics as an apprentice with the MoD, at about the same time my brothers started their own company – Mustang Marine. My MoD career led me down a route that favoured life in the air, testing aircraft electronics systems etc., my only involvement with boats was to see the vessels during build when visiting my family during holidays. My wife and I had always talked about moving back home (Pembrokeshire) and in 2012 I secured the job here as Technical Director, which is when I really started my maritime career.

What are the strengths of Mainstay Marine?

Simply put, it is about people and processes! Yes, we have great facilities, but they are nothing without the robust processes by which our day-to-day operations are conducted, which is endorsed by our continued re-certification to ISO 9001, 14001 and 45001 standards. We have an exceptional workforce covering all disciplines necessary for the successful build, maintenance and repair of vessels and structures, with strong project management. Having an integrated design team enables us to offer our own solutions to client needs and to conduct the detailed design of vessel systems where structural design is procured externally. Our design capability covers all systems, including hydraulic and electrical aspects of the vessel and the associated electronics for control, monitoring and remote reporting.

What are the memorable projects you have been involved in?

We specialise in addressing the bespoke requirements of our clients and in doing so have been involved in the creation of many projects all with their unique features. The fabrication of the aluminium communications masts for the Type 26 frigates have demanded very high levels of precision, alignment and repeatability for which we have received excellent feedback on our abilities. The design and build of two sophisticated Fisheries Patrol Vessels for the Welsh Government, the abilities of our Marine Services team to turn-around vessels in a timely, professional and effective manner, such as the work carried out on CTV ‘Malltraeth Bay’ following severe damage suffered in Holyhead during storm Emma of 2018, and the building of the first tidal energy device to supply grid power all contribute to memorable achievements. Perhaps topped off by having the pleasure of showing Sir Michael Palin aboard the small survey workboat we designed and built for British Antarctic Survey and sits in a davit aboard RSS Sir David Attenborough. Named Erebus, Sir Michael was impressed with the capabilities of such a small vessel and signed my copy of his book ‘Erebus’. We are currently finalising fabrication of the main structure and PTO module of Bombora’s mWave wave energy converter and will be assembling the 75m x 20m, 850t device over the coming months ready for launch from our Ro-Ro slipway.

Are there any particular Ship Building considerations that need greater support in order to meet the Clean Maritime Plan: 2050 and the needs of the industry?

We believe we have the technology and capability to contribute to a reduced carbon footprint in the marine industry and welcome the opportunity to work with anyone wanting to explore our technology in the conversion of existing vessels or the design and build of new ones.

What are the future plans for Mainstay Marine?

Continuing to deliver excellent service for our customers and contributing to the successful transition to a carbon zero future for the maritime sector whilst securing long-term future employment for Mainstay employees. We have a collaboration agreement with a company specialising in the design and manufacture of electric propulsion systems utilising battery and hydrogen fuel cell technologies and are able to offer suitable solutions to reconfigure existing vessels and build new ones that are carbon zero from the propulsion perspective.

L-R: Welsh Fisheries vessel ‘Lady Megan’,
Sir Michael Palin and the BAS survey workboat ‘Erebus’.


Article by Chartwell Marine & the Workboat Association

Unique collaboration on green fuels, new propulsion technology and hull-form optimization in the workboat sector will lay the foundation for global emissions reduction efforts

Southampton, 2nd March – The workboat sector, comprising one of the strongest categories of the UK’s Ship Register and including many Small to Medium size Enterprises (SMEs), is leading the ‘charge’ in developing innovative technologies that will ultimately reduce emissions throughout the wider maritime industry. This is according to the Workboat Association (WA), the trade, skills and safety standards association for the workboat industry, and pioneer in next-generation vessel design, Chartwell Marine.

Continued momentum towards decarbonisation in sectors such as offshore wind has driven widespread innovation in the maritime supply chain, as vessel designers and operators gear up to meet stringent emissions requirements and green targets for customers.

SMEs are particularly well placed to incubate new ideas and concepts to bring solutions to the market. Having launched a new Technical Working Group in 2019, which aims to accelerate the decarbonisation of the workboat sector in line with the Clean Maritime Plan, the Workboat Association has hailed a number of significant milestones achieved by its members.

In recent months, members of this Technical Working Group have been responsible for a number of market firsts in the arena of vessel hybridisation, alternative fuels and performance optimization, including:

  • A growing fleet of Chartwell Marine designed Chartwell 24 catamarans are being operated by Seacat Services, equipped with BAR Technologies’ foil optimised stability system (FOSS) to reduce fuel consumption and improve comfort for crew and passengers. Seacat has also placed an order for two BARTech 30 CTVs to further increase the versatility of its fleet and enable 30% emissions savings.
  • John Spencer of GPS Marine Contractors, promoter of innovative cost-effective solutions with 50-years of service to the maritime industry, has converted one of his Tug vessels to run on Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil (HVO) and has purchased a Tanker vessel ready to supply the Thames Marine community with HVO.
  • Chartwell Marine has designed and brought to market several vessels with hull forms optimised for efficiency running hybrid diesel-electric drivetrains. Chartwell’s hybrid Chartwell 24 CTV design also won recognition for High Speed Transfers in Maritime UK’s innovation award.
  • Manor Marine, ship building and general marine engineering specialists, has built the ‘Hybrid, Manor Endurance’ for Manor Renewables using a hybrid-electric on-board system.
  • Leo Hambro of Tidal Transit, which provide access, transport and crew transfer services to the industries of the North Sea, has declared his intention to own & operate the world’s first fully electric CTV. Additionally, through Tidal Transit’s joint venture with Louis Dreyfus Armateurs and LD Tide, it is building 2 x hydrogen ready, diesel electric hybrid CTVs for the growing French offshore wind industry.
  • World Marine Offshore, provider of crew transfer services to the offshore sector, is building and operating hybrid cross-propulsion electric-diesel drive jet vessels.
  • Windcat Workboats, owner of a 45+ fleet of offshore CTVs, is constructing the world’s first hydrogen driven CTV, which will be a dual fuel vessel and is expected for delivery in July 2021.
  • CWind, an offshore wind crew transfer specialist, has announced the completion of CWind Pioneer, the first hybrid surface effect ship, which can reach speeds of 44 knots while delivering emissions savings.

and this is to name only a few…

Andy Page, Managing Director, Chartwell Marine, said: “The decarbonisation of the maritime sector is now being spearheaded by small British and European businesses, particularly working in the offshore wind maritime supply chain. We have seen numerous experts in vessel design and construction collaborating through the Workboat Association’s Technical Working Group.

“By seizing the initiative on innovative naval technology, the skills and developments of the group can be scaled up and exported to support the global maritime industry in its continued drive to lower emissions.”

Kerrie Forster, Chief Executive Officer, The Workboat Association, added: “The members of The Workboat Association have made great progress towards decarbonising the workboat sector. Our members are primed to deliver the innovation sorely needed by the offshore wind sector due to their agility as small companies. They have the necessary freedom to design and create technologies essential to reaching net-zero, pushing workboats into the spotlight of maritime decarbonisation in the lead up to COP26.”

The Workboat Association sits on the UK Government’s Clean Maritime Council, and is partnering with the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult to deliver the road map for decarbonising the North Sea Offshore Wind sector – now nearing completion following a recent week of industry workshops.

Mercator Media’s Commercial Marine Network are working in association with the Workboat Association and in partnership with Maritime Journal and Seawork to deliver the ‘Get Set for Workboat: 2050’ series. Registration for Session 4 of the series on Thursday 6th May 2021 is now open. The session will look at vessel design and technologies in the medium term from 2025, focusing on innovative propulsion systems.

Members Profile: Nick Price, Century Marine Services

Nick introduces himself to us and explains more about small vessel brokerage.


Can you introduce yourself and Century Marine Services

I was born in Kent, UK before spending my early life travelling to follow my Father’s career in ship management to warmer climates! I returned to the UK to attend University, studying law and now once more reside back in Ashford, Kent. Aside from my maritime interest, I am a keen portrait photographer and through this I also give instruction on photography. On the other end of the adrenaline spectrum, I am also a keen Skydiver and have completed approximately 350 solo jumps in the UK and abroad. I am a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers and have been working at Century Marine Services for the last 7 years.

Century Marine Services are shipbrokers specialising in Workboats, Tugs, Barges and all commercial vessels up to and including Offshore Industry vessel size. Established by Steve Dougal in 2001 and based in Hythe, Kent; we provide vessel chartering, new-build and second-hand sales and valuation services. Hythe has an important and foundational history in shipping as the home to Sir Francis Pettit Smith who was one of the inventors of the screw propeller. He was the driving force behind the construction of the world’s first screw-propelled steamship, SS Archimedes.

What is your speciality?

Before joining Century Marine Services I worked as a Towage and Salvage broker. Through this and my experience with Century Marine, Tugs, Workboats and Small Commercial Vessels have become my expertise, although my particular area of interest is workboats. Sale and Purchase is our core business but we also specialise in Chartering , Towage and Valuation services.

Has there been any stand-out moments in your career so far?

As a salvage Broker, I was one of the first to get a call regarding the capsizing of Costa Concordia moments after it happened. This is an event that will stick with me forever, the ultimate result of which is well known to everyone.  On a more celebratory note, selling my first new-build vessel was a special moment, It was a really fantastic process to be a part of and to see the vessel go from enquiry and concept to a delivered vessel.

What does a day in your life look like?

Normally it would be at our HQ in Hythe, which is roughly a 25 minute commute for me, though as with many at the moment I am working from home! My day is very communication based, speaking with active clients, colleagues and project stakeholders, also responding to interest from potential new clients. I really enjoy the networking and seeing the sheer variety that the nature of this business puts on the table. Through Covid, most networking is online and by phone, so face to face networking opportunities are impossible.   The announcement of the UK’s new strategy to return to normality and overcoming coronavirus leaves me feeling optimistic and enthusiastic, looking forward to when I can have those face to face meetings again. Ultimately we are assisting clients with activities that we do on a daily basis but they only do infrequently, helping them through this complex process is something I enjoy doing.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I would like to have grown our Workboat and small commercial vessel services to a healthy global level, hopefully furthering the already high sector speciality of Century Marine Services Ltd.