Mersey Maritime - A driving force for the maritime industry on merseysideMersey Maritime - A driving force for the maritime industry on merseyside

By Mersey Maritime

Members join discussion on national ‘Women in Maritime’ campaign

Executives from across Liverpool City Region’s £4bn maritime sector have met to discuss their role in a national campaign to increase the number of women working in the maritime sector.

At the Birkenhead headquarters of industry body Mersey Maritime, people from a diverse range of businesses including KVH, Liverpool Cruise Terminal and Taylor Marine took part in a lively discussion on the issues around the initiative, which has been launched by Maritime UK.

Charter launch

Mersey Maritime commercial manager Ruth Wood, who sits on the ‘Women in Maritime’ taskforce, delivered a presentation about the campaign and the September launch of the Women in Maritime Charter. The taskforce comprises both maritime industry leaders and high-level Government officials.

Businesses will be asked to sign up to the Charter and commit to driving greater diversity within their organisations – from the shop floor to the boardroom.

Ruth told those assembled at the Birkenhead event: “The Women in Maritime initiative is about promoting equality and fairness across the maritime sector. The launch of the Charter is for businesses to pledge their support for creating positive change within their own organisations. Working with the taskforce, signatories will set out stretching targets with agreed timeframes to improve gender diversity that will be reported against regularly.

Numbers game

A number of important points were raised including making sure that the campaign didn’t simply become a “numbers game” where firms would simply fill lower-skilled roles with women. Ruth explained that the charter would assess gender diversity across four key areas – recruitment, promotion, retention and the proportion of women in decision-making roles.

There was an agreement that the campaign needed to be a catalyst for deeper cultural change where diversity at all levels of a company or organisation was the norm. Further supported by the need to better promote the diverse range of career choices in the maritime sector, particularly amongst young people.

Charter launch

Mersey Maritime will be hosting the Northern launch of the Women in Maritime Charter on Thursday, September 13, at Liverpool Town Hall. The event marks a number of celebrations taking place across the country as part of Maritime UK Week.

The event is being sponsored by the Mayor of Liverpool, Merchant Navy Training Board and Complete Training Solutions and will provide businesses with the opportunity to find out more about the Women in Maritime initiative and the Charter.

Attendees will have the opportunity to hear from the Women in Maritime taskforce, businesses who have already signed the pledge and some inspirational female role models from the industry.

Speakers include:

  • Sue Terpilowski, Chair of the Women in Maritime Taskforce
  • Angie Redhead, Head of City Assets, Culture Liverpool
  • Kathryn Neilson, Director, Merchant Navy Training Board
  • Julia Bradley, Director of Sales and Marketing, Peel Ports Group

For further information on the event and to register to attend please click here. The event is accessible for both members and non-members of Mersey Maritime.

By Mersey Maritime

Bibby’s Vicki asks for your support in the Loch Ness Challenge

Vicki Wyllie, an executive assistant at Bibby Line Group, has signed up to take part in a 96km canoe challenge along the Caledonian Canal in aid of the Sailors Society in September.

Known as the Loch Ness Challenge, the event follows the Great Glen Canoe Trail between Fort William and Inverness. There are five boats taking part, from Bibby, Navarino, Lano Pro, Cargill and Tradewinds.

Vicki is asking Mersey Maritime members to support her efforts with sponsorship for the effort which takes place in the first week of September. To support Vicki click here.

Vicki  has been training in readiness for the effort, saying: “I have been hurtling through days of kettle bell classes and Boogie Bounce (Zumba on a trampoline) to get fit.”

Founded 200 years ago, the Sailors Society reaches out to help seafarers at home, in port and at sea transforming lives in seafaring communities with everything from building new homes after disasters such as Typhoon Haiyan, to providing bikes to get to school.


By Mersey Maritime

Beech Group opens new training centre

Demolition specialist Beech Group is utilising its warehouse space by opening a brand new training centre.

The 6,000 sq ft building will be used for Construction Industry Training Board short duration in courses such as demolition and asbestos awareness.

With the accreditation from RTITB Beech is also now running Forklift, Mewp and Telehandler courses and is hoping in the near future to gain PASMA accreditation.

The company’s James Millward is spearheading the development and plans to be running an array of different training by the end of 2018.


By Mersey Maritime

September event looks at future of UK seafarers

Mersey Maritime and the Merchant Navy Training Board (MNTB) is to host an event in September that will consider the future of UK seafarers.

Re-thinking the Rating will consider a number of challenges and opportunities, including the recruitment of more women into the maritime sector, as well as the skills and aptitudes required to pursue a career in shipping in the 21st century.

Delegates will be invited to consider the challenges of recruiting, actions to attract more companies and upcoming plans to clarify career paths.

The event will take place on Thursday, September 13, at Liverpool Town Hall and will run from 11am to 3pm. This will be followed by the press launch of the Women in Maritime Charter.

If you are interested in attending or making a contribution to the event, please get in touch with Mark Burgess at the Merchant Navy Training Board at

By Mersey Maritime

Global spotlight falls on Liverpool Cruise Terminal star Kate

As a passenger operations manager at Liverpool Cruise Terminal, Kate Green is kept busy with the ever-increasing number of vessels arriving in the Mersey.

Now her hard work and drive has been recognised in a new initiative launched earlier this summer to find 20 people aged under 40 in the global cruise industry who have a powerful work ethic and demonstrate strong leadership skills.

Those who work alongside Kate report how hardworking, dynamic and enthusiastic she is and now her efforts are being recognised on the global stage after she was named on the 40-strong shortlist in the Seatrade 20 under 40 initiative.

Sponsored by TVG Travel, Seatrade Cruise News 20 under 40 is cruising’s answer to Forbes 30 under 30, highlighting the brightest of minds who show initiative, commitment to a hardworking culture and outstanding leadership.

Kate has worked at Cruise Liverpool for six years and, according to her colleagues, she  is a “supreme example of a talented young person with a passion and enthusiasm for her role and the wider cruise industry”.

He role includes maintaining relationships with partners across the city region including hotels, visitor attractions, tour operators, catering and retail businesses. In addition, she manages all aspects of marketing, sales and events for Cruise Liverpool whilst promoting the city within the cruise industry.

The visitor experience is at the heart of everything she does and her personality allows her with ease to enhance the passenger experience by showcasing Liverpool, exceeding passenger expectations at every stage of their journey, ensuring guests and crew have the best experience Liverpool and the city region has to offer.

James Stangroom, chair of Cruise Britain, said: “It’s a proud moment for Cruise Britain to have key people from five of our members short-listed for Seatrade’s innovative and strongly contested global award.

“Such a strong showing demonstrates the strength and depth of upcoming talent that there is in the UK cruise industry. I wish Kate and all our short-listed entrants the very best of luck.”

Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, added: “We’re incredibly proud of Kate and the team at Cruise Liverpool. For Kate’s work to be recognised at a global level is only right, she is a leader in her field and everybody who makes her acquaintance holds her in very high esteem.

The top 20 finalists will be announced at Seatrade Cruise Med in Lisbon on September 20.

By Mersey Maritime

Essar and its employees raise more than £10,000 for mental health charity

Employees at Essar’s Stanlow refinery celebrated their annual charity day with a donation to mental health charity Chapter.

The company donated £7,500 to the Ellesmere Port-based organisation, which was also supported by employees, raising an additional £1,300 through collections, a sum that will be matched by Essar and brings the total contribution to over £10,000.

Representatives of Chapter attended the celebration at Stanlow, to raise awareness among employees and to formally receive the donation.

Chapter supports local people with severe mental illness to feel more confident, make friends, and access employment opportunities. Severe mental illness significantly heightens the risk of someone living in poverty, becoming victim of a crime, experiencing poor physical health, and committing suicide.

Through one-to-ones, group activities, training, and voluntary work placements, the charity empowers people with the skills and confidence to no longer feel limited by their mental ill-health.

Clare Ashworth, chief officer of Chapter, said:  “We are delighted with the fantastic support the employees of Essar have shown Chapter.  It is wonderful that they are championing the cause of mental illness; something that may affect many of their colleagues, friends or family.

“The money donated will help us reach even more local people and provide life changing support services.”

Mr. S Thangapandian, chief executive of Essar Oil UK, added:  “Chapter do some great work in our local community, and it was a pleasure to welcome them as our special guests at Stanlow.”

By Mersey Maritime

Member of the Month: Offshore Painting Services

Brothers David and Paul Jones established their Liverpool business – Offshore Painting Services (OPS) – in 2010 and for the first four years they barely had a day off.

Since then, OPS has grown to become a leading provider of complete corrosion protection and composite blade inspection and repairs to the renewable energy sector in particular, specialising in high specification coatings and rope-access blade repairs along with rope-access solutions within facilities management.

The UK wind industry has seen significant developments with bigger turbines on bigger windfarms situated further offshore. Paul said: “When building these windfarms installation vessels alone can cost around 250,000 euros per day, so operations don’t stop – it is seven-days per week, so we adapt to fit with this.

“At the start there was just David and I working from a little office in Crosby, so we had to plan our time carefully to ensure there was constant daily cover – even over Christmas.”

Specialist teams

This was a huge commitment and one which ultimately paid off. From the new head office situated close to Aintree Racecourse, OPS now employs a highly-specialised team of around 45 technicians and has successfully completed more than 150 projects on over 4,000 assets across four continents, including throughout the UK, Europe and Africa, for a diverse range of customers.

They include large blue-chip international companies to local land-owners and have worked on most of the UK offshore windfarms and many more onshore.

This success was recognised earlier this year at the Mersey Maritime Industry Awards 2018, when the company scooped the coveted ‘SME of the Year’ Award, an accolade which was proudly accepted by both David, as managing director, and Paul, as operations director, as they took centre stage at the award ceremony.

Training Centre

In 2016 OPS added a state-of-the-art training centre to its’ portfolio of services, offering an extensive range of industry-wide vocational and bespoke training courses and is now accredited to some of the industries leading trade authorities including Global Wind Organisation (GWO), for Basic Safety modules such as Working at Height, First Aid, Manual Handling, Fire Awareness and Sea Survival; IRATA for rope-access; ICATS and Train the Painter for corrosion protection.

Further accreditation will include ECITB, CCNSG and their own unique, bespoke Composite Blade Repair training facility in the coming weeks.

Paul added: “We get interest from a variety of sources, from experienced technicians to those seeking a career within the industry, from individuals looking to improve their skill-set to corporate clients, including many of the big names within the renewables sector.

“People come from all over the UK as well as much further afield, to experience the training facility, whether to re-new and re-validate their existing certificates or to obtain additional qualifications; we have established ourselves as one of the best providers of specialist training within the industry.”

Getting started

The idea for OPS came about while Paul, whose background is as a vehicle painter, was working at a harbourside port in North Wales, which services a number of windfarms off the North Wales coast. He quickly built working relationships with a major international windfarm operator and soon began working on a 160-turbine windfarm off North Wales.

Paul explained: “When you are repairing and painting a wind turbine it has to be done properly. The turbines operate out at sea in some of the harshest conditions and are expected to last for 25 years.

“We are involved in the installation of wind turbines and other assets; once they are installed we do repair work and maintenance. As you can imagine, factors such as the wind, rain and sea tides all impact upon the structure and how it works. When painting a turbine it is not just a case of putting on one coat of paint, it requires a more thorough approach including specific thickness of paint when applied.”

The future

The Paris targets on decarbonisation means offshore wind continues to grow globally and OPS is ideally placed to capitalise on this growth. From its’ offices in Liverpool and Grimsby, OPS is able to quickly mobilise resources, people and equipment, aided by a dedicated back-office team consisting of project managers, HSQE, HR and admin personnel. OPS has acquired a reputation for quality, safety and customer satisfaction, supported by an in-house quality assurance system independently accredited to ISO 9001:2015 and 14001:2015.

Paul added: “What we do is very specialised; we are not a one-stop-shop for everything. We perform very specific tasks to a high quality; our reputation for quality, safety and service has been earned and is one we are proud to have achieved.

“We now operate in a global market, providing our services at an international level worldwide; we employ local people and are passionate about what we do, supporting the local economy. We are proud of our Merseyside heritage, our reputation and our achievement of becoming a major player within the offshore industry.”

By Mersey Maritime

Merseyside takes the lead plan to build huge floating wind farm in the Atlantic

Merseyside firms could take the lead on a multi-billion pound project to create huge windfarms out in the Atlantic – with floating turbines each taller than the Statue of Liberty.

Industry body Mersey Maritime and Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) are both key players in the EU-funded ARCWIND – a £3.5bn project to assess feasibility of the next generation of wind power.

Countries such as Denmark and Germany were the early pioneers of wind power but there is now a considerable well of expertise in the UK, and particularly in the Liverpool city region with one of the world’s biggest wind farms located in Liverpool Bay.

Burbo Bank

Burbo Bank, off Merseyside coast, was opened in 2007 and comprised 25 3.6MW turbines and, last year, the Burbo Bank extension was opened, comprising a further 32 8MW turbines. The wind farm can generate enough electricity to power 310,000 homes.

Danish renewable energy giant Ørsted operates the wind farm from its permanent facility in Birkenhead and the development and the ongoing maintenance of the turbines has involved firms across the Liverpool city region.

That know-how could be crucial in the development of the ARCWIND turbines, each one with a generating capacity of 10MW and attached to floating platforms, as opposed to the fixed seabed bases at Burbo Bank. They would take advantage of stronger winds further out to sea.

Economic feasibility

Dr Musa Bashir, a senior lecturer in marine and offshore engineering in LJMU’s Department of Maritime and Mechanical Engineering, is taking part in the research project which lasts until 2020 and involves several European countries.

He said: “We are looking at floating wind farms and making realistic assessments of production, costs and economic feasibility, taking into account logistics, maintenance planning and risk assessment.

“The heights of the turbines we are looking at are between 180 metres and 220 metres from mean sea level. This means that they are higher than the Statue of Liberty at 93m but lower than the Eiffel tower at 324m”.

Falling subsidies

Wind power has required significant Government subsidy until now but, with turbines becoming bigger and more efficient all the time, that cost of that subsidy has dropped and the offshore wind sector claims that process is set to accelerate.

Mersey Maritime chief executive, Chris Shirling-Rooke, added: “Liverpool city region’s £4bn maritime industry contains world class expertise across a number of sectors – offshore wind being a great example of that.

“Energy security is a key issue for the UK now and over the coming decades. Offshore wind is coming of age in terms of efficiency and economic viability. It has the potential to create thousands of new jobs an we want to ensure Liverpool city region takes the lead and gains maximum benefit.”

By Mersey Maritime

The Engineering College secures Investors in People GOLD Award

The Engineering College, next door to the Cammell Laird shipyard in Birkenhead, has secured the highly coveted Investors in People GOLD Award – placing it in the top 2% of businesses in the UK.

The college, which boasts a trainee success rate of more than 90%, has achieved the award against the new and rigorous 6th Edition of the Investors in People Standard.

Investors in People (IiP) sets the benchmark for people management, positive business culture and leadership. Underpinning the Investors in People Standard is the 6th Edition Framework which focuses on the latest research, workplace trends and 25 years of leading practice.

The college was first awarded IiP Gold status in 2015, joining the top 7% of businesses in the UK to be awarded Gold. The latest accreditation of IiP Gold is set against the backdrop of a rebrand and places the Wirral based Group Training Association (GTA) amongst the top 2% of UK businesses currently holding the award.

The Engineering College chief executive, Terry Weston, said: “I am extremely proud of this achievement which represents the outstanding efforts of the excellent team here at the college.

“This is our second consecutive IiP GOLD accreditation, the first of which in 2015 came as a complete surprise to the team. To be told back then ‘how good we were as a business’ by the independent assessor was amazing.

The Engineering College works in highly successful collaborative partnerships with clients across the engineering sector in the North West, delivering technical skills packages for a wide range of employers.

By Mersey Maritime

Cammell Laird launches fresh bid for UK’s £1.25bn naval frigate contract

Birkenhead shipyard and engineering firm Cammell Laird is lining up a fresh bid to build the UK’s next generation of naval frigates after the Ministry of Defence (MoD) revived its stalled £1.25bn project.

And Cammell Laird said on Monday it had built a network of more than 2,000 potential suppliers as its put forward its Leander frigate, a joint venture with defence giant BAE Systems, as the ideal solution for the Royal Navy’s requirements.

The company unveiled its original bid earlier this year but, earlier in the summer, the MoD put the plan to build five new frigates on hold due to what its says was insufficient interest from industry. However, it was also reported that the Government had failed to budget for the project.


Now in it latest statement, the MoD has said: “We have relaunched discussions with industry for our new Type 31e fleet, and this week issued a Prior Information Notice to ensure we do not lose any momentum.

“We remain committed to a cutting-edge Royal Navy fleet of at least 19 frigates and destroyers, and the first batch of five new Type 31e ships will bolster our modern navy.”

Last week Cammell Laird unveiled its new website promoting the Leander and stated its intention to sell the vessel to other navies across the world. Now, however, the main focus will switch back to the UK contract.

The business has a strong recent track record with Government shipbuilding contracts. It delivered a £44m contract to build the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth and is putting the finishing touches to the £200m RRS Sir David Attenborough, a specialist polar research vessel for the British Antarctic Survey.

Suppler events

During the original process the firm held two supplier conferences in February and March which brought a huge response. More than 2,000 suppliers have registered so far with five new ones signing up ever week.

Tony Graham, Cammell Laird Leander project director, said there were still opportunities for interested parties to join the T31e supplier list.

He said: “While our supplier list is already extensive as we select suppliers for the five Royal Navy frigates, BAE Systems has also had strong interest from other countries, so we are keen to hear from more companies that believe they could be part of the Leander success story.”

Businesses interested in joining the Leander supply chain should fill in a registration form on the Leander website

By Mersey Maritime

Merseyrail stations to close for upgrades ahead of arrival of new train fleet

Stations across the Merseyrail network will close for up to 30 days at a time from this autumn until summer 2019 as platforms are upgraded in readiness for a new generation of trains.

Merseyrail, Mersey Maritime member Merseytravel and Network Rail unveiled the work schedule ahead of the first phase which will see the line from Ormskirk to Walton closed from October 20 to 26. Rail replacement buses will be lined up to ferry passengers to their destinations.

There will be 11 phases of works during this period. Only short sections of line will be closed at any one time, with all stations on that section closed. Closures will vary in duration, but most will be between nine and 30 days at a time.

Sliding steps

Merseyrail’s current train fleet is now almost 40 years’ old and the new trains will cost £460m and will offer what the company is calling “ground breaking”, sliding step technology that will offer much easier access for disabled people.

When the train doors open a step will slide out from the carriage and, using electronic sensor, will stop close to the platform.

Andy Heath, managing director of Merseyrail, explained: “At the moment, a wheelchair user has to give notice of their journey so that our staff can have a ramp ready so they can get on the train. With the new trains, people can just turn up and get on.”

Platform work

The trains are scheduled to come into operation in 2020 and the forthcoming works will see upgrades to 100 platforms at 58 stations. Those windows of time will also be used to carry out other essential track maintenance.

The new fleet will offer trains with 50% more passenger capacity, without reducing the number or size of the seats. They will also be faster, cutting current journey times but up to 10%.

“This project is absolutely transformational,” added Mr Heath. “We have put together a series of line closures to get ready for this. We will be optimising times when there is low usage of the network and avoiding the busier times, such as when there are big events.”

1970s technology

David Powell, programme director, rolling stock, at Merseytravel said: “The current fleet is coming to the end of its working life. Some were built in 1978. We need to upgrade our infrastructure.

“This is a major modernisation of the railway. Currently there are limitations imposed by the 1970s technology. The new trains will operate beyond the third rail which will offer us the potential to expand the Merseyrail network.”

Features such as wi-fi access will also be available across the network and the doors will have sensors that will stop the train if a passenger were to see clothing or bag straps caught in the door.

Members of the public will be able to see one of the new trains for themselves when one of the units goes on display in the coming months.

Improved access

Marcus Barnes, senior sponsor for Network Rail, said: “Adjusting the height, width and layout of the platforms is more complex than it may sound and we’ll need to close sections of the line to complete these vital works safely.

“Many of these upgrades may not be obvious to passengers, but are key to enable improved access onto new Merseyrail trains using the new sliding step technology.”

Merseyrail remains in dispute with the RMT union as the new trains well be driver operated and will not require a guard. Although the train operator it has pledged to redeploy the current team of guards in other roles the union claims the one-man operation  will compromise public safety.

By Mersey Maritime

Former service people can fill the skills gap, says leading consultant

There are around 150,000 ex-service men and women across the UK seeking work and they could provide the solution to the chronic skills shortage in many industries.

That was the message from Roger Jones of Mersey Maritime member MAS Consulting who is looking to help retrain former service personnel to adapt the valuable skills they already possess for use on “civvy street”.


Royal Air Force

Roger was addressing the August breakfast Face2Face networking event at Mersey Maritime in Birkenhead. He worked in the Royal Air Force for 31 years as a logistic manager helping manage logistics and transport hubs in the UK and around the world.

Towards the end of his time in the RAF he was also a manager in the continuous improvement team responsible for training and ongoing development at RAF bases.

Now, via MAS, he delivers continuous improvement programmes for automotive clients such as Jaguar Land Rover and BMW. He has also worked with toymaker LEGO in Denmark.

Valuable skills

And it is through a programme called Mettle that he wants to offer a link between industry and former service personnel who are keen to offer their transferrable skills to companies of all descriptions.

“Ex-service people have an inherent skill set but don’t always have the specific skills and qualifications they need to work on civvy street,” he told fellow members at the Face2Face.

“In many cases they possess hugely valuable skills – they are leaders, managers problem-solvers. We are going to be asking members at Mersey Maritime to offer people opportunities or work experience and help us upskill people.”

Global businesses

Also speaking at the Face-2-Face was Debbie Simpkins from InXpress and Neil McNeil from Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement.

InXpress is a global franchise operation specialising in shipping and logistics. It works with major carriers such as DHL, with which it has a partnership, and UPS and FedEx, to transport items of all shapes and sizes via air, sea and road.

Local customers include Everton Football Club and Royal HaskoningDHV, also a member of Mersey Maritime. Debbie said: “We ship goods across the globe and we operate from 90 franchise offices in the UK.”

Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement is a family-owned German company with a history stretching back 150 years. Neil oversees both the Isle of Man and Newcastle offices with a combined workforce of 100 people.

The company is multifaceted global maritime services business. It owns or co-owns around 90 commercial vessels, including 50 container ships and offers many other services including global supply and movement of crew, as well as training, shipbuilding and conversion, hospitality, insurance and recycling.

Members join discussion on national ‘Women in Maritime’ campaign
Global spotlight falls on Liverpool Cruise Terminal star Kate
Essar and its employees raise more than £10,000 for mental health charity
Member of the Month: Offshore Painting Services
Merseyside takes the lead plan to build huge floating wind farm in the Atlantic
The Engineering College secures Investors in People GOLD Award
Cammell Laird launches fresh bid for UK’s £1.25bn naval frigate contract
Merseyrail stations to close for upgrades ahead of arrival of new train fleet
Former service people can fill the skills gap, says leading consultant