ABP welcomes UK’s first Marine Pilotage Apprentices

March 29, 2016

 ABP has welcomed three trainees onto the UK’s first ever Marine Pilotage Apprenticeship scheme after the company launched the initiative in October last year.

The scheme, which was written and developed by ABP’s Marine Training Manager Martin Gough, attracted almost 40 applicants from across the country, all keen to build on their existing skills and qualify as a marine pilot.

Martin explains: “This new scheme was developed following the success of our Port Marine Operations Apprenticeship. We have long known there was a need to get young people into the marine industry and developing a Marine Pilotage apprenticeship scheme made perfect sense.

“The traditional route into pilotage, of spending many years at sea usually qualifying as Master Mariners before coming ashore, means the average age of pilots is quite high and that needs to be addressed.

“By developing the apprenticeship scheme to ensure it complies with the requirements of the National Occupational Standards for Marine Pilots and IMO resolution A960 we can reduce the amount of time required to be spent at sea and focus the training on developing the specific skills required by a marine pilot.

“We now have three enthusiastic and very capable people who are looking forward to learning these skills and qualifying as pilots, as well as 13 other young people who are already on our Marine Operations Apprenticeship, all of which bodes well for the future of the industry.”

All applicants were required to have their first-level marine qualification and will join a team of 218 ABP pilots across the company’s 21 ports.

Kym Hughes is from Portsmouth. He completed his cadetship with Carnival UK and reached the rank of 2nd Officer before making the transition to the apprenticeship.

“This course is a great opportunity to get into pilotage,” said Kym. “I’ve always wanted to be a pilot and had been looking at gaining experience by staying at sea for many more years. This apprenticeship has opened up an alternative path for me allowing me to gain experience which is directly relevant to the job, in preparation for gaining my first authorisation next year.”

Tom Donaghy hails from Northern Ireland and has worked at North Star Shipping, Pacific Nuclear Transport Ltd (PNTL) and most recently, in the Marine Operations department in Dublin Port.

He said: “The apprenticeship scheme is a fantastic opportunity to achieve a career goal of becoming a marine pilot. The scheme so far has been very enjoyable and it has been really interesting to learn how the various departments within ABP Humber interact and are interdependent on each other.

''I know the job will be challenging but I'm looking forward to getting down to South Wales and learning from the experienced team there.'

Jonathan Sleep is from Deal in Kent. He’s also looking forward to benefitting from the experience of ABP’s existing marine teams.

He said: “During my time on board geotechnical research vessels I was given the opportunity to learn and practice ship manoeuvring and ship handling on a variety of vessels. This was always the fun part of the job and enjoying that can only be beneficial to my new chosen career.

“I’m also hoping to use the knowledge of some incredibly experienced pilots and ex mariners to learn as much as possible from them. The chance to learn from colleagues who have 40 years’ experience within the industry will make me a better pilot.”

As well as getting to know ABP as a company, pilotage apprentices will be expected to undertake training in tug and pilot launch familiarisation, man overboard procedures and ship simulator work including bridge/pilot resource management and targeted trips and situations.

At the end of the two-year course apprentices will be required to demonstrate their knowledge and capabilities through a series of final assessments which will include a full act of pilotage within the training district.