ENGINEER OFFICER CASE STUDY

We chat with Stuart Weir, Second Engineer Unlimited, about his training and career offshore

ENGINEER OFFICER CASE STUDY

We chat with Stuart Weir, Second Engineer Unlimited, about his training and career offshore

Stuart was very candid when we explored what had inspired him to take up engineering as a career and for this to end up being aboard ship at sea – and with an ‘unlimited’ certification he can work on any category of vessel.

“I was interested in working in some sort of engineering job although I wasn’t sure where, until a random conversation in the kitchen with one of the ladies that worked at the hostel I was living in,” Stuart explained. “Her husband had been an AB (able seaman) in the Merchant Navy for most of his life and she suggested: ‘Why don’t you try the Merchant Navy?’. She was a bit surprised when I asked what that was but she spurred me on. So I started looking into it and doing some research and it confirmed for me that this was exactly what I was after. And it was down to this coincidental chat!”

Stuart was introduced by SSTG to North Star Shipping, the largest wholly UK-owned fleet engaged in the UK’s offshore industry in the North Sea, over 10 years ago and has been with them ever since. As sponsor they supported him through his training as a cadet at college and aboard ship.

“College was the best experience.”

“I enjoyed the time at college and I liked staying in the halls which for me was my first independence – coming away and staying in Glasgow for three years. I so enjoyed college that I would love to go back,” Stuart enthused. “It was the best experience. You made good friends and you have no responsibilities apart from learning and needing to pass exams. So you’re actually learning to be responsible!

“I’ve since also worked as a lecturer at the college for three years and although I enjoyed my courses as a cadet what they are running now has changed and is far better. They do this ‘industrial experience program’ now which is exactly what you need. You get to strip down and rebuild pieces of equipment like air compressors, fuel pumps, turbochargers and engines. That’s what you should be learning and that’s what they are doing now. It’s brilliant and again it’s another thing that makes me wish I was back in college as a cadet learning now. Everything has come along a lot since I was studying.”

Stuart’s time as a lecturer has been very fulfilling as in passing on his knowledge it’s helping cadets in their learning experience.

“It’s been a fantastic experience for me,” Stuart enthused. “I’m 29 years-old now so when I started I was relatively young to be in teaching and it was always a surprise when the cadets realised I was the lecturer! And the important thing was that I was active at sea at the time and so was lecturing during my time off – and my knowledge was up-to-date, and of course still is. It’s what we are doing now – it’s not what we used to do or what the books have told us to do. This is what is happening right now, and why it is so beneficial.”

A key part of the learning process for cadets during their training is their time on two training phases at sea which integrates with college study and final exams. Stuart’s first posting offshore was coupled with a mix of emotions.

“They put me at ease especially as it was my first time at sea.”

“I spent three days in Aberdeen waiting on the ship to come-in, which was my first visit to the city. I was feeling apprehensive as you’re going into the unknown – but it was good to have time to explore in my first trip away. And then once onboard I met the Chief Engineer and the Second Engineer. They were brilliant, such nice guys and put me at ease especially as it was my first time at sea.”

“To start with you are shadowing the guys you are working with and you’re not touching anything. So the senior engineer will do some jobs, some of the overhauls and repairs, and you just watch and help out when told to. And as you start to help more they begin to trust that you can start picking up your own duties.”

After the first college and sea phase, when you return to college for the second time a new learning experience starts to evolve which is rolled together with your final sea phase. And you have both a written exam to sit and an oral exam to attend.

“You need to convince him that you are able to work safely.”

“You are feeling so much more confident and really wanting to learn. And as you are coming to the end of the second sea phase when you have been working under supervision and mostly on your own, your confidence has really grown. And then something switches when you realise that the big exam is coming up! I tended to think that the written exam would be the hardest but the separate oral exam is probably the most difficult because you are sitting in front of the examiner who has years of experience on different types of ship – and you need to convince him that you are able to work safely and know enough on which to build further learning. This is really needed as the job you are going to do as an engineer involves working on really expensive machines and the job is potentially dangerous. And your decisions on ship can affect everybody onboard at the end of the day. So you really do need that Certificate of Competence.”

SSTG provides a comprehensive recruitment and training service for their UK shipping company members. This includes securing financial backing through sponsorship during training at college and at sea, career guidance, and providing everyday personal support for cadets through their training officers.

“My Training Officer was very supportive and very professional.”

“My SSTG training Officer Rachel Eberlein was fantastic. I knew that if I ever had a problem she was there to speak to. You can get stressed working and studying when you’re away from home. She would talk through what you needed help with and would guide you, which included help with study books and your paperwork. She was very supportive and very professional,” Stuart explained.

It’s understandably very common for people working at sea in the Merchant Navy, and for those thinking about a career, that the opportunity to visit foreign lands across the globe is a real attraction. Stuart has been working in offshore support in the North Sea so his exploring has been closer to home but he’s thoroughly enjoyed his travels.

“I’ve visited three or four different cities in Norway and a couple of ports and cities in Holland, as well as the UK and especially the Scottish Islands. Once you’ve worked your eight-hour shift you are free to go ashore when in-port as long as you are back for your watch. It’s a great opportunity to visit different places – and the feeling of being abroad is great isn’t it. It was absolutely frozen in Norway for my first visit and the buildings with their amazing colours you can see when coming up the fjords. We used to sail for about an hour and a half up the fjords to Bergen and Stavanger which was lovely. And not only are you travelling for free – you actually get paid for it!”

Start Your Career

Our experienced team of recruitment and training officers can provide you with help and guidance on roles and vacancies – and support in applying for sponsorship.

Boston Putford Offshore Safety Ltd

Operates standby support vessels.

Careers at sea with Boston Putford Offshore Safety Ltd.

Based:
Lowestoft, Suffolk.

Profile:
Operates a fleet of Support Vessels in both the North Sea and other areas providing Emergency Response, Supply and Underwater Exploration/Construction services for the offshore oil and gas exploration and production industry.

Ship Types Operated:
Standby

Company website:
www.bostonputford.com

Britannia Aggregates Ltd

Operates aggregate mining vessels extracting sand and gravel.

Train as a deck cadet with Britannia Aggregates Ltd.

Based:
Northfleet, Kent.

Profile:
Operates a Marine Aggregate Dredger engaged in the mining of sand and gravel from the sea bed in licensed areas of the open sea around the UK & the Continent of Europe for delivery to UK and other European ports.

Ship Types Operated:
Aggregate Mining Vessels

Company website:
www.brett.co.uk

CEMEX Marine Ltd

Operates aggregate mining vessels extracting sand and gravel.

CEMEX, an SSTG Member for 10 years.

Based:
Southampton, Hampshire.

Profile:
Operates a fleet of Marine Aggregate Dredgers engaged in the mining of sand and gravel from the sea bed in licensed areas of the open sea around the UK & the Continent of Europe for delivery to UK and other European ports.

Ship Types Operated:
Aggregate Mining Vessels

Company website:
www.cemex.co.uk

CMA-CGM Ltd

Operates aggregate mining vessels extracting sand and gravel.

.

Based:
London, UK.

Profile:
Operates a fleet of container vessels on worldwide routes transporting a wide variety of cargoes.

Ship Types Operated:
Container

Company website:
www.cma-cgm.com

Alcedo Shipping Ltd

Operates bulk carriers worldwide.

Alcedo Shipping Ltd.

Based:
London.

Profile:
Operates a fleet of Bulk Carriers on worldwide routes transporting a wide variety of cargoes.

Ship Types Operated:
Bulk Carriers

Company website:
https://www.alcedoshipping.co.uk

Evergreen Marine (UK) Ltd

Operates container vessels for cargo transportation.

Deck Cadet Training with Evergreen Marine (UK) Ltd.

Based:
London.

Profile:
Operates a fleet of container vessels on worldwide routes transporting a wide variety of cargoes.

Ship Types Operated:
Container

Company website:
www.evergreen-marine.co.uk

Gardline Ltd

Operates survey and research vessels.

Deck and engineer cadet training with Gardline Ltd.

Based:
Great Yarmouth, Norfolk.

Profile:
Best in class provider of Marine Geophysical, Geotechnical and Environmental Surveys.

Ship Types Operated:
Survey

Company website:
www.gardline.com

Global Marine Systems Ltd

Global Marine Systems Ltd Operates a fleet of Cable Repair and Installation vessels.

Based:
Headquartered in Chelmsford, Essex.

Profile:

Global Marine is part of the Global Marine Group and is a market leader in subsea cable installation and maintenance solutions to the telecoms sector, with a history dating back to 1850. We have a fleet of five Dynamically Positioned vessels that operate worldwide with one Charted vessel that predominantly installs fibre optic cables.

Dynamically Positioned (DP) vessel means that they hold position under their own power utilising main propulsion and thrusters.

Each vessel is equipped with a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) which is used to locate and bury the cable once repaired or laid.

Our vessels are located in the Far East, Europe, Caribbean and the US with operations run out of Washington in the Northeast of England.

Through Safety Leadership, Operational Excellence & Stability we aim to continually drive industry acceptance and commitment to common goals and a path to a sustainable future for global subsea communications.

Ship Types Operated:
Cable Repair

 

Company website:
www.globalmarine.group

Hanson Aggregates Marine Ltd

Operates aggregate mining vessels extracting sand and gravel.

Hanson Aggregates Marine Ltd, an SSTG Member for 10 years.

Based:
Southampton, Hampshire.

Profile:
Operates a fleet of Marine Aggregate Dredgers engaged in the mining of sand and gravel from the sea bed in licensed areas of the open sea around the UK & the Continent of Europe for delivery to UK and other European ports.

Ship Types Operated:
Aggregate Mining Vessels

Company website:
www.heidelbergcement.com

John H. Whitaker (Holdings) Ltd

Operates oil tankers.

Careers at Sea with John H. Whitaker (Tankers) Ltd.

Based:
Hull, North Humberside.

Profile:
Operates a fleet of oil tankers in the European area transporting fuel and oil products for ships and storage depots.

Ship Types Operated:
Tankers

Company website:
www.whitakertankers.com

Saga Shipping Ltd

Operates cruise ships.

Saga Shipping Ltd, an SSTG Member Company for 15 years.

Based:
Folkestone, Kent.

Profile:
This company operates the following types of vessel. Click on vessel for more information:

Ship Types Operated:
Cruise

Company website:
www.saga.co.uk

Tarmac Marine Ltd

Operates aggregate mining vessels extracting sand and gravel.

Tarmac Marine Ltd, trains Deck and Engineer Cadet with SSTG.

Based:
Chichester, West Sussex.

Profile:
Operates a fleet of Marine Aggregate Dredgers engaged in the mining of sand and gravel from the sea bed in licensed areas of the open sea around the UK & the Continent of Europe for delivery to UK and other European ports.

Ship Types Operated:
Aggregate Mining Vessels

Company website:
www.tarmac.com

North Star Shipping (Aberdeen) Ltd

Operates support vessels for offshore oil and gas exploration.

North Star Shipping (Aberdeen) Ltd, an SSTG Member for 10 years.

Based:
Aberdeen.

Profile:
Operates a fleet of support vessels in both the North Sea and other areas providing emergency response, supply and underwater exploration / construction services for the offshore oil and gas exploration and production industry.

Ship Types Operated:
Standby

Company website:
www.northstarshipping.co.uk

P & O Ferries Ltd

Operates vehicle and passenger ferries.

P & O Ferries Ltd, trains Merchant Navy Seafarers with SSTG.

Based:
Dover, Kent.

Profile:
Operates a fleet of large Roll-on Roll-off Vessels between the UK and ports in Europe transporting passengers, their cars, and freight vehicles.

Ship Types Operated:
Ferries

Company website:
www.poferries.com

Seajacks UK Ltd.

Operates specialist jack-up vessels for offshore wind industry.

Seajacks UK Ltd, trains Merchant Navy seafarers with SSTG.

Based:
Great Yarmouth, UK.

Profile:
Seajacks UK are an East Anglian based offshore installation company committed to building the world’s most advanced and versatile fleet of self-propelled jack-up vessels equipped to service the demands of the offshore wind industry. Our on and offshore crews work in full conjunction with all of our clients, looking to provide the most cost-effective solutions in the safest environments possible.

Seajacks has a fleet of 5 GustoMSC designed vessels, all capable of installing and maintaining offshore wind farms in harsh conditions. Seajacks fleet includes; Seajacks Kraken, Seajacks Leviathan, Seajacks Hydra, Seajacks Zaratan and Seajacks Scylla.

Seajacks utilise DP2 positioning for fast and efficient rig moves, with no need for tugs means there is year round operating ability in the harsh conditions of the Southern North Sea. The DP2 systems make all of the vessels fully capable of driving their four legs into the seabed, providing them with a steady platform and ensuring they remain uncompromised by the conditions of the sea below.

Seajacks Scylla is equipped with a 1500t leg-encircling crane, incorporate useable deck space of up to 5000m², and has 8000t of available variable load. Sailing at speeds of 12 knots or over, Scylla is outfitted with 105m long legs that have the ability to install components in water depths of up to 65m.

Ship Types Operated:
Jack-up

Company website:
www.seajacks.com

CldN RoRo Ltd.


Operates freight vessels for Irish Sea crossings.

CldN RoRo Ltd, trains ETO Officer cadets with SSTG.

Based:
Heysham, Lancashire.

Profile:
As a UK cadet you will complete your sea service whilst under training on the UK based vessels serving between the UK and Ireland. The company has a fleet of modern vessels concentrating on the freight market.

Ship Types Operated:
Ferries

Company website: 

www.cldn.com

WISTA International

Based:

Profile:
International networking organisation whose mission is to attract and support women, at the management level.

WISTA are pleased to announce a joint venture initiative with the Maritime Educational Foundation for the sponsorship of up to three candidates to train and qualify as Merchant Navy Officers commencing in September 2024.

The training will involve studying at one of the specialist nautical colleges in the UK, and completing sea service on a range of ship types. The training will follow one of the established programmes and lead to a degree level-based qualification in addition to all the necessary professional training.

The available sponsorship will include all tuition fees paid, the cost of training at sea and a generous allowance paid throughout the training.

Successful candidates will need to support the aims and objectives of WISTA Intentional. Attendance at a small number of WISTA events interspersed throughout the training will be required to promote this initiative to the current membership and assist in the promotion that this opportunity will provide candidates in future years.

Interested candidates should apply here at SSTG in the first instance quoting WISTA as your choice of sponsor.

Company website:
www.wistainternational.com

Ship Safe Training Group Ltd
The Precinct Office
The Precinct
Rochester
Kent
ME1 1SR

We'd love to
hear from you!

Tel: +44 (0) 1634 820 820
E-mail: recruitment@sstg.org

The legal stuff

© 2013 - 2024 Ship Safe Training Group Ltd (SSTG) All Rights Reserved except where otherwise stated.