Conversation with Ben Macmillan – Engineer Cadet studying for an SPD (Scottish Professional Diploma) in Marine Engineering at the City of Glasgow College.

Ben has passed all of his exams first time and is understandably very proud of his achievements. He was preparing for his oral exams when we spoke with him and then he would be onboard ship training for his last Sea Phase. Ben comes from a family living on the Isle of Lewis and who were closely involved in maritime and engineering activities.

“At College I have really enjoyed the workshop experiences.”

“My father is a mechanic so I’ve been working on cars and motorbikes since I was really young and keen on mechanical engineering. It’s in my blood!”

“There’s a good team spirit at college and I’m enjoying my time here. You get to hear some great stories from the lecturers about their own maritime experiences, where they’ve travelled to and what they’ve seen. And the ships they’ve worked on all around the world.”

“And at college I have really enjoyed the workshop experiences. This has included taking turbos apart, learning how to use lathes, welding and plant maintenance.”

“Ben’s sponsor is Tarmac Marine, operating marine aggregate dredgers mining sand and gravel from the sea bed around the southern North Sea, English Channel, Bristol Channel and Irish Sea.”

“I have been working with them at sea on the City of Westminster and the City of London. Learning on these ships is amazing because they are relatively old and there is much to do on them.”

“I’ve really enjoyed the dry docks too, and especially when we did a main engine overhaul. It was amazing to see what was being done and that I was able to help out the contractors doing the overhaul. There are two engines to overhaul and we replaced a lot of parts including liners, pistons and piston rings. And I’ve seen the tail shafts being pulled out of a ship and propellors being changed. The drydock was amazing – a real eye-opener. It’s cool seeing the engine stripped to bits and then up and running again after a few weeks.”

Ben was keen to highlight his experiences with crews whilst training on board ship.

“It’s all been very positive and I am friends with them all, and I have met with crew offshore in Glasgow too. Everyone has been very good to me on board. On anything I didn’t know they were happy to help me.”

Once qualified Ben will be working with Tarmac Marine aboard their fleet of aggregate dredgers.

“The dredging involves picking-up various materials, and this can vary from gravel to sand. The stonier material tends to damage the pipework more which requires repairs to be done.”

And Ben’s message to applicants considering a career as an Engineering Officer at sea:

“If you have any interest in mechanics, engineering, or electrics it’s definitely worth it, and you can get to see places you’ve not been to before while you’re working. You also get time off in rotation so you can get to see your family at home. It depends upon the ships you are working on as to how this works. For me it means I’m working for about six months of the year on a three weeks on, three weeks off rotation.”

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