Safety and skills in ports were both big features of the autumn seminar from the UK Harbour Masters Association which was held in November.
In his keynote address, shipping minister Robert Courts said: “We need the right skilled people to deliver efficient, effective, and safe shoreside operations [and] of course safety underpins all aspects of maritime activity, and further improvements remain a priority for the government.”
“I'm glad to see that the culture of marine safety management has been truly implanted and embedded in our harbour port and marine authorities. Moving forward, we need to continue to work together to make sure that ports and marine safety remains fit for the future.”
Mr Courts praised the work of the wider maritime industry for its efforts to increase the diversity of the sector, noting that UKHMA president Ashley Nicholson MBE was the youngest person to take the presidency as well as the first female.
He also praised the Maritime UK Diversity in Maritime taskforce, which PSS chief executive Debbie Cavaldoro is co-chair of, for initiatives such as the diversity networks, charters, and speaker bank.
Mr Courts called on the conference to be ready to embrace the opportunities that new technology brings, adding:
“[The UK] needs you to continue the great work that ports, harbours and authorities do in providing space for apprenticeships to train and to equip the workforce of the future. But overall, we need your ambition and your passion to facilitate the change and growth that is needed,” he said.
The message was echoed in presentations from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) and by the UK MASS Regulatory Working Group (Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships) whose representatives both mentioned the need to ensure training keeps pace with technological developments.
In his speech, Brian Johnson, chief executive of the MCA, also talked extensively about changes due to take place, and already in progress, as marine heavy fuel is phased out. He highlighted that some of the options being investigated as potential replacements came with their own health and safety risk which ports would need to be aware of and mitigate in the future.
Jonathan Warren from Port Training, who administer the Harbour Masters Certificate for PSS and UKHMA, also addressed the conference, detailing the work which had taken place to ensure that training was able to continue during the coronavirus pandemic.
He called on ports to ensure that they allow enough time for students to complete the various tasks needed to finish training and give the qualification itself their support so that it retains its high standing in the sectors.
Capt. Warren also announced that those who had completed the training would now be entitled to use the letters HMC after their name.
Other speakers at the event included Chief Investigator Andrew Moll and Inspector of Marine Accidents Bill Evans from the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB), Richard Ballantyne, chief executive of the British Ports Association (BPA), and Adam Parnell, director at The CHIRP Charitable Trust.