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Transition from Ship to Shore

30 November 2015


The transition from ship to shore or ‘swallowing the anchor’ is never easy. When to do it? How to do it? What skills will I need? Am I qualified? Will I miss the sea? Can we survive on reduced income? Can I cope with life ashore?


All valid questions racing though the minds of any senior officer looking to take the next brave steps on the maritime ladder to a career ashore. But what help and training is available? Many learned minds have tackled this issue and a lot of conference debate has focused on this very matter. But what is out there to help?

I guess I was fortunate, or unfortunate, depending upon your viewpoint. I qualified in the mid-80s at a time of massive fleet reductions and flagging-out; a time when redundancies were commonplace. The decision was more or less made for me. I then made my own way into a shore-based career with engineering posts and a spell at university before joining Lloyd’s Register as a surveyor. All before a life at sea and the salary and tax status that accompany it became embedded in my life.

There is no doubt that senior officers are competent professionals, managing their teams and their responsibilities effectively and efficiently, in getting the ship from A to B in the safest and most efficient way possible. In their other life, at home on leave, they become a part of the family and enjoy life at home unhindered by the stresses of work.

What then can prepare them for the shock of life as a superintendent; managing a number of ships and coping with life on the end of a smartphone which keeps them in contact with both the office and their ships 24/7? Training, mentoring and properly planned induction I would suggest.

In terms of training available, the Isle of Man has the answer.

It has led the way for over 10 years with its Ship Superintendents' Course. Recognising the need to bridge the gap and provide the tools and information to help smooth the transition from ship to shore, the Isle of Man designed a hugely successful course which has been developed and refined over the years. Running over nine days (including two weekends) it is a very demanding course, at the end of which candidates are examined. It is delivered by current industry experts together with practical exercises and drills which cover the essential topics required to manage ships successfully as well as pragmatic advice on coping with life ashore. Although it is very intensive for the candidates, their feedback on each course is excellent. The shared experiences among each cohort proves invaluable and the contacts they make with tutors and visiting experts are made for life, making a huge difference with their transition.

I know there are alternative learning options, and we as an industry really do need to make suitable training available and recognised by the professional maritime institutions. The key to it all is identifying potential early on and provide all the support we can as early in their career as possible. If we can support them to grow as a professional and prepare them for the move, with properly managed mentoring and training, we will grow our own managers and CEOs. If we fail, it will leave the industry without the leaders of tomorrow.

For information on the Isle of Man Ship Superintendents' Course which runs courses every year in April and October, contact:

+44 (0)1624833955 | Enquiries@emcs.co.im | www.emcs.co.im

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