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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:


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.

WA Members Short Film Competition

Winners Announcement!!

A jury was nominated by the WA Training Workgroup to score the entries to this year’s Video Competition, we are pleased to announce the following winners who will all receive gift packs in reward!;

Congratulations to the three winners!!

Do you enjoy making videos and would like to show us your work place?

The Workboat Association is creating a short film to showcase our industry, the association and career opportunities, and we want you to be the the moviemakers!

Entries for the competition can be submitted during September and October and prizes will be awarded for winners of the following categories;

  • Best video
  • Most interesting work scope
  • Best in sector: Towing, Energy Sector, Aquaculture and Marine Civils
  • Inspiring Story or Script

We are interested for short films showing your work location, whether it is on board a vessel, in a Port, in the office or traveling! Films can either be silent or narrated, real-time or sped-up and can tell a story of what life working in the Workboat Industry means for you or it could simply show part of an operation you are engaged with.

*But, we do ask you to remember any workplace media policies and to respect the privacy of others, please make sure you have permission from the workplace and those featured in the video before sharing.

Maximum video length: 2 minutes per video, unlimited number of videos per entry.

Entries will be judged by the Training Workgroup, all entries will be checked and authorised by the vessel owner/member before inclusion in the WA Short Film.

To submit an entry or for more details on how to submit an entry please contact Kerrie Forster via:

Good luck!

Norman Finlay MBE. “The Grandfather of the Workboat Industry”

It is with deepest sadness we mourn the passing of the Workboat Association’s Life President: Norman Finlay MBE. Wednesday 5th August 2020, University Hospital Southampton, age 84.

Following a career at sea and then as Superintendent of a dredger fleet, Mr Finlay became involved with workboats early in his career, and went on to become one of the main driving forces behind the establishment and development of the UK Workboat sector of the Merchant Navy in the 1970s, playing his part in the rapid development of the industry and in the technical advancements made.

He continued to work in the industry ever since, running his own Surveying business he became President of the SCMS and through this network became the key player in the development of the original Workboat Code with the MCA (then the MSA) in the early 1990s and the revisions ever since. This project became the forming of the Workboat Association in 1994, of which Mr Finlay took the role as Secretary until 2011, then Life President.

In 2013 Mr Finlay was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award (pictured) at the Seawork Mercator Media Awards, followed suitably by the award of a MBE by her Majesty the Queen in 2018 for his services to the sector.

Norman Finlay receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award,
Seawork Mercator Media Awards 2013

Words by Kerrie Forster, CEO The Workboat Association.

My own connection with Norman came soon before the time he received his Lifetime Achievement Award at Seawork 2013, Norman was still actively surveying vessels all over the world at this point. He was tasked to visit a couple of vessels that my company owned in North Wales, the then Manager of our company was having serious problems getting authorisation for a visitor to access the site to see the vessels (even if it was on official duty). After arriving at the Port Norman calmly said “Leave it to me, I’ve been in this business a long time”, he drove away. 10 minutes later he was spotted walking in full PPE and with a Harbour Master’s escort across the other side of the Port towards the vessels: “first job done” he said as he smiled back and waved, ready to board the vessels.

Since playing a more active role in the Association, first as a Committee member, then as CEO, my relationship with Norman quickly grew into one of a mentor towards his under-grad. Norman wasn’t a person to waste time, car journeys or time spent in his home-office were made up reliving important historical lessons connected to the Offshore Contracting Industry, facts about why certain processes have to happen in particular ways, providing me with personal contacts and backgrounds to expand my network and of course a lot of dreaming about the good ol’days. This education has been very important to me.

Norman moved from Belfast to the River Mersey in his youth, his family back home also in the maritime industry at the famous Harland and Wolf Shipyard. When I informed him at the start of this year that the Association had sponsored an area of woodland [Storeton Woods, Bebington] close to the River Mersey, he paused, his tone lifted and he quickly started recalling lots of memories of spending his leisure time in and around the woods.

At Seawork last year myself and Norman hosted a “Workboat Industry FAQ” session with some Apprentices currently studying for a career on Workboats. He told them the story of how for many years he had managed the operation of a small workboat, permanently chained to a small pontoon, which he used in dredging projects to move the cutting heads around sites [as seen on a large painting in his office]. When the time came to take the workboat out of the water for survey, Norman explained “after 24hours of blood, sweat and tears trying to remove the chains and associated connections, it became obvious this was going to be a one-way process!”. A member of Damen Shipyards said to him “With some trialling, we might be able to fit some drive-legs directly onto the pontoon if you think it could be worth the investment?”, “Well” Norman said “soon after it was launched it was fitted with a small shelter, mainly to protect the controls; right there we had the World’s first Multicat”.

One of the Apprentices said to me after the event “Thank you so much for talking to me, I cannot believe I actually met the man who invented the Multicat!!”

 I am sure Norman would have been more modest!

To those that worked with him, Norman Finlay was a true Professional. To anybody who knew Norman, he was an honest Gentleman.

We offer our greatest sympathies to his Wife and Children; Alison, Fiona and Heather. All of whom have become a part of the Association and its members lives over the last 25 years.

Norman, as we watch you depart port for the last time, we lower our flags to half-mast in memory of a man that has supported so many of us to become who we are today. You’re leadership, encouragement and passion has been the driver that has set the foundations for our industry.

Fair winds and following seas.

Industry Group achieves breakthrough as Governments around the world pledge action to support crew changes during the COVID-19 pandemic

12.07.2020 – London


The Industry Group comprising IADC, IAGC, IMCA, IOGP, ISOA and the Workboat Association (details below) applauds the breakthrough at an international maritime virtual summit hosted by the UK Government on 9 July where 12 other governments also pledged their support for actions needed to ensure the welfare of the world’s seafarers during the Covid-19 pandemic, including making sure that crew changes can take place in a safe and timely manner.

The government representatives at the summit expressed support for recommendations made by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) developed in consultation with industry groups, which encourage all IMO Member States to support crew changes by implementing measures to facilitate movement of key personnel notwithstanding the tightened border restrictions imposed due to the pandemic.

The Industry Group recognises the initiative the UK Government has shown and thanks the UK and the other 12 governments for the support demonstrated by their joint statement, and also recognises the support given by the international agencies involved.  The Group hopes that this will now encourage other governments to support this cause and help overcome the issues which continue to impact crew changes causing concern for all seafarers and offshore energy workers globally.

The Group expressly recognises the role of the UK Transport Minister and both the current and previous Shipping Ministers for their role in helping to raise the profile of this situation.

Supporting governments include:

  • United Kingdom
  • Denmark
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Indonesia
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Philippines
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Singapore
  • United Arab Emirates
  • United States of America

The group looks forward to these commitments being translated into action where it is needed.

However, concern remains that there are continuing difficulties in other key countries which did not participate in the summit, and the group calls upon the international community to ensure that seafarers and offshore energy sector personnel receive proper and appropriate treatment as key workers, including access to medical treatment ashore where necessary, in all countries, as recommended by the Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in IMO Circular Letter 4204/Add.23.

The full International Maritime Summits statement can be read here

About the Industry Group

The Industry Group comprises international associations whose member companies are engaged in essential elements of the global offshore energy sector; whose personnel perform a wide variety of specialised roles which are all critical to the daily functioning of maintaining global energy supplies.

About IADC –The International Association of Drilling Contractors

Established in 1940, IADC operates on 6 continents, and its members are acknowledged leaders in onshore and offshore drilling operations around the world. IADC is globally recognized for its work in providing: accreditation programs for a competent global upstream energy workforce, technical publications serving industry and regulatory authorities, international conferences, and collaborative government-industry advocacy work. IADC’s collective efforts contribute to operational proficiencies that underpin the world’s upstream energy industry while sustaining high standards of safety, environmental stewardship and operational efficiency.

About IAGC – International Association of Geophysical Contractors

The IAGC is the global trade association for the geophysical and exploration industry, the cornerstone of the energy industry. Our membership includes onshore and offshore survey operators and acquisition companies, data and processing providers, exploration and production companies, equipment and software manufacturers, industry suppliers, and service providers. The IAGC supports and fosters science- and risk-based regulations consistent with existing practices that are proven to be environmentally responsible, effective and operationally feasible. ​

About IMCA – The International Marine Contractors Associations

IMCA represents the vast majority of offshore marine contractors and the associated supply chain in the world, with members from over 60 countries. It publishes an extensive technical library of guidance documents on operational good practice, safety promotional materials, timely information notes and safety flashes. Its members benefit from a technical structure comprising four main divisions covering Offshore Diving, Marine (including an Offshore Renewable Energy Committee), Remote Systems & ROVs, and Offshore Surveying.

About IOGP – The International Association of Oil & Gas Producers

The International Association of Oil & Gas Producers (IOGP) is the voice of the global upstream industry. Oil and gas continue to provide a significant proportion of the world’s energy to meet growing demands for heat, light and transport. Our Members produce 40% of the world’s oil and gas. They operate in all producing regions: the Americas, Africa, Europe, the Middle East, the Caspian, Asia and Australia. We serve industry regulators as a global partner for improving safety, environmental and social performance. We also act as a uniquely upstream forum in which our Members identify and share knowledge and good practices to achieve improvements in health, safety, the environment, security and social responsibility.

About ISOA – The international Support Vessel Owners’ Association

ISOA is the international trade association for owners/operators of support vessels in the offshore energy sector, including Platform Supply Vessels (PSV) and Anchor Handling Tug Supply Vessels (AHTS), as well as other vessel types.

ISOA’s objective is to promote best practice within its sector of the industry, with particular focus on safety, application of consistent and practical standards – whether through regulation or industry promoted schemes, together with the welfare and training of seafarers who are employed in the sector. ISOA provides a forum where its members can discuss these common interests.

About the Workboat Association (WA)

The Workboat Association formed in 1994 to facilitate an industry input into the formulation of the UK ‘Maritime and Coastguard Agency’s’ Workboat Code of Practice. Today the WAprovides to a growing industry of workboat Owners, Operators, Stakeholders, and independent Professionals from within the UK and spread across the globe.

Remaining a not-for-profit, membership funded/ owned association, the WA’s scope offers towards those Operating or Supporting Workboats in the UK, to UK regulations, or those simply aiming to benchmark their own standards of practice against a well adopted, respected and understood standard – as the WA promote.

Association Revisited: Creation of the Towage Good Practice Guides

Previous WA Chairman Mark Meade takes a look back at the creation and development of the Towage Good Practice Guides.


“Essentially it was designed to be a very down to earth and practical guide, it had to be easy to read and could be used not only to initially educate someone, but be kept in a wheelhouse and referred to by Masters throughout their career, or used by Crew Members actively as a toolbox talk or training aid.”

How did the concept for the Towage Good Practice Guidelines originate, and what was your involvement?

Following on from some of the discussions at various Workboat Association meetings back in the early 2010’s, I had the idea that the Association had all the right experience to document best practice surrounding Towng, the opportunity being to create a really useful book for reference and education specific to Towing operations.

My next consideration was how to start to write it, thank fully I was given great support from Mark Ranson and Norman Finlay. We mentioned to the MCA via Jenny Vines that we were in the early stages of creating such a guide and she was pleasantly interested. She took an early (and very incomplete) draft to a couple of her colleagues who had operational Tug experience and they agreed to meet us. Together we reviewed the material and they offered suggestions based on information they had in circulation, for example; in their Guidance to Surveyors.

(I must admit, one or two suggestions I disagreed with from experience!) but that is part of the learning curve in making a industry Good Practice Guide, it benefits much more than one user (eg a Seafarer), the overall process was very helpful and it inspired me to include much more material.

How long did it take to create the original versions of the Towage Guides?

Doing it in between my normal day job meant that it did take a couple of years I think, but the advantage of that was – coming back to it from time to time, I could see with fresh eyes that there was much more to add and revise.

What were the main considerations for inclusion in the guides?

Essentially it was designed to be a very down to earth and practical guide, it had to be easy to read and could be used not only to initially educate someone, but be kept in a wheelhouse and referred to by Masters throughout their career, or used by Crew Members actively as a toolbox talk or training aid.

Who were the main people involved?

Originally it was Norman, Mark and myself, me writing it with valuable input from Norman and Mark acting as Editor. This was until Mark saw the excellent Stability Guide that Gareth Bonner had prepared internally for SMS Towage, we persuaded Gareth to allow for us to include it as an Annex to our document. With a few small editing suggestions to Gareth, the final version was fantastic, it is a really useful supplement, simple to understand but practical to the operation. Written by an active Seafarer with considerable operational Towing experience, for his peers; this is just what is needed when explaining something theoretically complicated like Stability.

Is there any ideas for future additions/ updates to the guides?

It was always intended to be a ‘living’ document and to be developed over time, though as to yet the documents still remain in their original format. I have started making a list of corrections and new opportunities for a future review, noting some small editorial mistakes since its printing.

A couple of years ago a group of WA members got together at the AGM and started a discussion on developing a guide for barge handling and ship assist towage with workboats, I have started some writing on this, focusing on the barge element – I need to push it along [good pun Mark] but I need input from the others in the group regarding ship assist towage. It’s not always easy to keep up momentum when we are all busy.

I believe there is also scope to develop a guide for anchor handling with Workboats. I know there are, for instance, particular techniques developed between ‘our guys’ in Holyhead Towing and some of the Pipelay Barge Masters we work with that cover anchor handling in very shallow waters. I need to discuss with the guys involved and ask them politely to write down a copy that I can share.

How can we obtain a copy of the Towage Guides currently completed?

Head to the Workboat Association website, on the Training and Good Practice page you will find, amongst lots of other brilliant information, a link to order the Towage Guides. They are available in Hard-copy format only, available to both members and non-members, Association members do get a notable discount.

Workboats during transit: Covid-19 Innovation Challenge

The Challenge, sponsored by the G+ and The Workboat Association is looking for solutions to safely enable an increase of the pax carrying capacity of workboats; which is currently severely limited due to necessary Covid-19 distancing controls.


Representatives from the G+ and the Workboat Association will be involved in the review of submissions. G+ and the Workboat Association will give successful applicants the opportunity to present to members of their organisations from across both the offshore wind and broader maritime workboat industries, in both the UK and global markets.


View the challenge website here:

Association Revisited: Introduction of the John Percival Memorial Award

Mark Ranson reflects on John Percival’s role within the Workboat Association and the introduction of the John Percival Memorial Award.

Who was John Percival?

John Percival was well known in commercial workboat and leisure circles as the founder and head of Hoylake Sailing School (& John Percival Marine Associates (JPMA). After a career deep sea and ashore plus a brief spell with Wirral Council, John started JPMA/Hoylake Sailing School in the mid 90s. – Whilst initially aimed at yacht training he quickly realised there was a significant role of training of Workboat crews and he worked with the Workboat Association to utilise RYA courses and also to develop the Master <200GT CoC with the WA and MCA.

For many years he was Chairman of the Workboat Association Training Workgroup, until his untimely death from Cancer in March 2014.

How did the Idea for the John Percival Memorial Award Come about?

Following John’s passing the Workboat Association Committee were looking for a suitable way to commemorate John’s life and his significant contribution to the development of Workboat crew training – at the time we were just embarking on the first Workboat Apprenticeship, it was fitting to create an award to recognise the achievements of our workboat trainees.

What Was your Involvement in its Creation?

Once the idea had been ‘hatched’, as Secretary at the time of the Association I coordinated the work of the Training Group – to bring the award to fruition – however, it should be recognised that much of the groundwork for creating the parameters for the award was down to John’s successor as Chair of the Training work group Damian Crowley, who assimilated the group’s ideas and drafted the original criteria for the award.

How does the Process for Nomination and Award Work?

The memorial takes the form of an annual award for the ‘best’ Workboat Industry Apprentice or Trainee. Training Providers and Apprentice or Trainee sponsors (Operators) are invited to nominate candidates for the Memorial annually using the nomination form.

The Award is presented at one of the WA annual events, typically the Seawork Dinner.

Who was Awarded the first JPMA and why?

The first recipient was George Turpin from Seacat Services for his efforts whilst training in 2015 – with the award presented at the 2016 Seawork Dinner.

George’s hard work and commitment, as well as his strong technical ability, set him in exceptional stead for an outstanding career at sea. His achievement in 2015 reflects the positive impact that apprenticeships can have on companies working within this sector

George received a set of high quality Nautical Instruments in a presentation case, this award followed suit for the future.

What is the current state of the 2020 JPMA?

On review by the Training Workgroup it was decided to widen the parameters for the award in 2020 to cover all Workboat industry Apprentices or persons who have completed a relevant period of training.

So far this year, revised nomination sheets have been finalised and distributed to the training providers and employers (and are openly available via the Training and Good Practice page of the WA website for download).  nominations for this catchment (looking at the work of those in 2019) are to be submitted to the by the end of April 2020.

A judging panel ‘independent of any nominees’ will be selected from the Training Workgroup to review the entries and select a winner ready for the original Seawork date June 9th 2020.

Due to the postponement of SeaWork 2020, the current award date is tba.

How Can Others Get Involved, is it too late to Nominate?

It’s not too late yet!!

Get the form downloaded and sent to Kerrie Forster before the end of the month, as long as the nominee is registered in time; there is still a chance they could be this year’s winner!

Association Revisited: Selecting the Voluntary Towage Endorsement Assessors

Two of our VTE Assessors; Hugh Patience and David Brown, explain more about the VTE Scheme and what their role as Assessors includes.


Can you remember how you first got involved with the Voluntary Towing Endorsement Scheme?

David: I first got involved in the Voluntary Endorsement Scheme on the invitation of the WA Secretary – at the time Mark Ranson. Mark had been a colleague of mine when we worked together for Adsteam UK and Svitzer UK

What was your career previous to this involvement?

David: I had a long career in towage and had been a Tug Master for fifteen years before coming ashore into management. After I retired I was keen to help with training the next generation of seafarers engaged in the towing industry

Hugh: Mostly Ship Assist Management and Master of tugs, final roll as Marine Manager for SMS Towage Limited

What is your role currently within the VTE scheme?

David: My role is to help promote the benefits of the VTE scheme to the workboat and towage sector and carry out the assessments on behalf of the Workboat Association /  MCA

Hugh: As per David, we are both Assessors for VTE’s of all of the 3 independent sections; General Towage, Ship Assist Towage and Sea Towing.

Do you remember any of the original discussions or plans for the WA to run the VTE scheme?

Hugh: Something was needed, on the grounds of safety, to demonstrate a candidates ability to handle towage vessels, all available certification at offer at the time was either based on written or verbal examination and did not assess physical or operational capabilities.

From memory, I recall there was a period in which training record books were becoming evermore popular. Most companies were implementing structured training schemes and the TRB provided a means of recording that training. Many Operators had some form of ‘signing off’ on trainees with a practical assessment, all this experience and good practice was brought together to form the VTE Training Record Books and assessment criteria – which in term helped the formation of the VTE Scheme.

What importance does the VTE scheme have for its stakeholders?

David: I believe that the VTE scheme demonstrates to Port Authorities and Customers that the Coxswains and Tug Masters have a sound knowledge of all aspects of towage and can operate their vessel competently and safely be it in the General, Ship Assist or Coastal sectors

Hugh: A degree of comfort for both Port, Client and Operator that Marine Crew holding this endorsement are capable of safely and professionally carrying out the towage operations as described within their endorsements

What are you looking for when you go on board to complete a VTE Assessment?

David: In brief we look for a Tug or Workboat Master that is professional and competent in their role, who understands the risks in towing and the importance to work in a safe environment.

Hugh: On one hand we look at the general impression of a vessel, on the other we are looking closely at the Company support and training scheme. Checking qualifications and then checking through record books with a view to getting a feel for who has signed-off on the Training Record Book and who has the company oversight. (Making sure that they have not been signed off because they are mates or for easing commercial pressure for example).

After the paperwork is complete, we take a general tour of the vessel to assess the candidates knowledge of their vessel and its equipment along with its use. We get underway and carry out manoeuvres in line with assessment criteria and then talk though those manoeuvres – including any specific items that it was not possible to do on the day.

Has there been any highlights or experiences that really shine out related to the VTE scheme?

David: The highlight for me is to see the candidates get their reward in successfully achieving the VTE, it gives them something that recognises their skill and competency and underpins their MCA maritime qualification

Hugh: A vast majority of assessments have been carried out by well practiced Masters, the usual feedback is “why do I have to do this!” However a large section of these candidates have said afterwards that they really enjoyed the experience and had even learned from it.

On the contrary I also like seeing new-starters in the industry doing well, many candidates have been successful in achieving their VTEs and they had a really good understanding of towage and the industry, this is highlighted by the TRB and assessment criteria which are written and structured from a vast array of industry and operating experience.

Can you tell us about your other nautical training activities outside of the VTE scheme?

David: I have carried out training for a number of customers including Svitzer UK, HR Wallingford / Thames Tideway project and the Milford Haven Port Authority using state of the art simulators, this is something I really enjoy.

Hugh: Like David we are both also involved in the End Point Assessment process of Workboat Apprentices and I also get to perform Tug training in both simulators and physically on board the vessels.