On the Bridge at Sea around The World

Conversation with Lewis Wedderburn-Scott – Mate soon to be Master

Lewis was interested from a young age in exploring the chance of working on ships and travelling around the world – and having successfully developed his career off-shore he hopes soon to be able to take full responsibility on the bridge as Master.

“When I was at High School I was looking into careers that interested me and I could follow, and working on ships really jumped out at me. With that career I could get to travel a lot and at somebody else’s expense – and I would get to operate big pieces of machinery too. And I wanted to put things I had learned at school to work for me. Like maths, where for many it doesn’t seem to have any obvious application, but for me I could put what I learned to work on ships.”

“I really enjoyed putting what I was being taught into actual practice when on sea training.”

“As a cadet in college at Plymouth University I really enjoyed putting what I was being taught into actual practice when on sea training. At college we would for example put the operation of radars through simulations where you needed to use specific frequencies to pick up on what you wanted to identify. I found that really interesting.”

“It was stimulating studying with the other cadets as we would study together. So as we approached our final exams we would work together using flip cards to ask questions of each other. That way we could compile really good answers to questions we’d be asked in our oral exams.”

“My sponsor company operated container ships which gave me the opportunity to travel all around Europe and into the Middle East and around Asia. Not only would you experience different cultures but also got to see first-hand the different types of operations that varied quite a lot and how things are communicated with different types of traffic. And with the container ships you didn’t go to the popular tourist destinations and had the opportunity to experience the real Asia.”

“At Ningbo in China it was like someone had banged at the sky making all the stars fall off!”

“I moved on to work on luxury cruise ships where I got to visit mainstream destinations. Singapore is very interesting, and in Papua New Guinea where there are volcanoes you got to see them close to, including Ureparapara Island where you can navigate inside a dormant volcano! And it was exciting to hear over the PA announcements at Tavanipupu saying we were having to travel carefully as the larvae was coming up from underneath the water and so the depth kept changing making it more shallow. And at Ningbo in China it was like someone had banged at the sky making all the stars fall off as the radar was absolutely covered with hundreds of fishing boats!”

“I’ve worked on lots of different vessel sizes. The second container ship I was on was just shy of 400 metres in length and it carried 16,000 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalents) which was pretty much 16,000 containers! And sailing into Southampton with the port pilots on a ship of that size was exciting as the level of precision had to be very high with little margin for error.”

“It’s lovely getting to meet all of the locals travelling with us.”

“Out of choice I am now working as Mate on a passenger ferry up in Shetland as I wanted to try something different after six years on the bridge of cruise ships. So down in size from a 200m cruise vessel to 32m for the passenger ferry! And it’s lovely getting to meet all of the locals travelling with us. I’m studying to be Master at the moment and will move on to captaining other vessels in the future.”

“The support I got from SSTG as a cadet was above and beyond"

“The support I got from SSTG as a cadet was above and beyond. The cadet manager Steve Abrahart went out of his way to help me qualify to study at Plymouth University and which enabled me to go on and get my Mates and move on to Masters. And my Training Officer Beverley Edwards was so on the ball. Every question and query I had she answered and she helped with filling out visas and doing administration with training record books. And she would take the trouble to travel down to the university to see personally how us SSTG cadets were getting on. This one-to-one approach was so helpful. And she was always available on the phone to help solve any problems you might be having. That was great support.”