Category: News

All UK Local Councils urged to fly the Red Ensign on Merchant Navy Day, 3 September

All local councils throughout the UK are being invited to support a campaign to raise public awareness of ‘island nation’ Britain’s dependence on Merchant Navy seafarers.

The charity Seafarers UK is asking councils to fly the Red Ensign – the British Merchant Navy’s flag – on Merchant Navy Day, 3 September. Suggested venues include flagpoles in public places, on civic buildings, museums, libraries, schools and churches.

There are no restrictions on when or where the Red Ensign can be flown ashore in the UK. Merchant Navy Day has been observed in the UK since 2000. The campaign to ‘Fly the Red Ensign’ was started last year to remind UK citizens – none of whom live more than 70 miles from the sea – that they depend on Merchant Navy seafarers for 95% of imports.

Councils are being encouraged to organise flag-hoisting ceremonies on 3 September, or the preceding Friday. A guide to taking part – including a message of support from HRH The Earl of Wessex – is available to download at

That website also includes a ‘Roll of Honour’, to which all participating councils will be added when they register online, or by emailing event details to

Seafarers UK is a charity that helps people in the maritime community by providing vital funding to support seafarers in need and their families. The charity has a dedicated Merchant Navy Fund to attract donations specifically to support British Merchant Navy men and women and their families – see

For further information about the ‘Fly the Red Ensign for Merchant Navy Day, 3 September’ campaign please email or phone Carole Hunt on 020 7932 5986.

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AHOY Oarsome Challenges – The Meridian Pull

The Meridian Pull Challenge

Westminster to Greenwich
Rowing 8.5 miles past the landmarks of London

During 2016 the AHOY Centre a Charity based on the Thames at Deptford will be running various rowing challenges throughout the year with teams of people rowing in the Meridian Pull Challenge.

The Challenge is run by The AHOY Centre charity on various dates between April and October each year with up to 15 teams taking part in each Challenge. The money raised by each team provides vital funding to enable us to continue our work with disadvantaged young people and disabled people. Without this funding we would not be able to continue our Charity’s work.

It is challenging but fun and you will certainly see London from a completely different view point! Definitely on the list of ‘must do’.
It is also a great opportunity to work as a team and involve colleagues, friends or family. At the same time why not throw down the gauntlet and challenge others?

Whether you are an individual or have a team eager to start – take up the Challenge and start your ‘Oarsome’ adventure today.

The Meridian Pulls are ‘Themed’ so you might like to enter in a sector that you are connected with or be part of Totally Thames, London Business or the Community Meridian Pull.

If you would like to have your own themed /branded Challenge we can organise this for you if you have a minimum of 8 teams (maximum 15). These are excellent Team Building events.

11th at 19: 45 – IT & Telecoms

10th at 08: 00 – Totally Thames (day one)
11th at 08: 00 – Totally Thames (day two)

9th at 08: 00 – London Business Challenge 2
23rd at 08: 00 – Community Challenge

More info:

Information Pack
Oarsome – Poster

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Thames marine training and skills to be stepped-up as academy launches

Marine training on the River Thames is to receive a major boost with the launch of a new skills organisation that will support crew training and development on the UK’s busiest waterway.

The Thames Skills Academy (TSA) is a new, employer-led organisation that will provide marine and ports operations training, development, and support a coherent career path for people starting their working life on the Thames. The initiative supported by the Port of London Authority (PLA), Transport for London, Tideway (who are delivering the Thames Tideway Tunnel) and the Company of Watermen & Lightermen, will facilitate and broker training, including marine apprenticeships, on behalf of employers.

The development is essential, with the PLA’s Thames Vision project showing use of the river is set to increase markedly over the next two decades for travel, moving freight and supporting major construction projects. The Vision forecasts that the number of passenger trips will double to 20 million, and freight moved between terminals on the Thames will rise rapidly back to the 2014 peak of over five million tonnes.

“Well-trained, skilled people are vital to making the most of the new opportunities highlighted in the Thames Vision,” said TSA chairman, Richard Everitt speaking at the TSA’s Fishmongers’ Hall launch. “A busier river offers both the opportunity of new jobs, but also the challenge of more complex navigation. That’s why safety will be a priority for the trainees accessing courses through the TSA.”

The catalyst for the creation of the TSA has been an increasing skills gap coupled with growing river use, and generous and timely support from Tideway. Tideway is the new independent company constructing the biggest Thames engineering project of the last century, which will deliver a much cleaner river and make extensive use of the Thames during construction too. Work is due to be completed by early 2024, but Tideway is aiming to reduce the programme by up to two years.

Chris Livett is chief executive of Livett’s Group, operators of passenger boats and barges, and has worked on the production of films including James Bond’s Spectre on the Thames. He said:

“The TSA will provide Thames operators like me with a one stop shop for potentially all our marine and afloat training needs. To navigate a boat on the Thames, whether carrying passengers or freight, you need a Boatmasters Licence with the relevant endorsements like local knowledge, towing and pushing, large passenger vessel, or high speed. The TSA will help train the next generation of Boatmasters Licence holders, supporting crew and customer service staff to get the extra skills the business needs.”

For young people coming to the river at the start of their working lives and indeed for experienced workers as they up-skill, the TSA will be a critical resource. It will make sure river workers are equipped to support and contribute directly to the growth in River use.

Andy Mitchell, CEO, Tideway said:

“The TSA is key to our goal of reconnecting London and Londoners with the River Thames.”

“By working with employers in the design and delivery of river training, we can continue to develop a highly skilled workforce on the Thames. This will also ensure the professionalism and competence of employees working on the river is recognised through accredited training programmes delivered by high quality training providers that meet employer’s needs.”

“It is also central to allowing our industry to achieve transformational health and safety standards and giving those working on the river the best opportunity to capitalise on a reinvigorated river economy, spurred on by our work and future projects.”

The PLA is one of the founding members of the TSA, providing financial and in-kind support. Chief harbour master Bob Baker says:

“The river will play an important role in addressing the transport challenges faced by a growing London. It’s a marine superhighway which can unlock the congestion on the roads and help lower emissions too. We can only realise that potential with the well trained people that the TSA will help to create. One thing I’m really excited about is the TSA’s plans to establish the first formal inland waterways deckhand qualification. This is vital as it will act as a stepping stone to the Boatmasters Licence.”

Guests at the TSA launch included not only a wide range of small, medium and large river employers, covering passenger, freight and other marine service operators, but also potential affiliate members and sponsors.

Media Contact

Tom Conroy, PLA Communications Manager Telephone: 01474 562246 or Email:


Leon Daniels, TfL


Andy Pike – Cory Environmental, Gavin Smith – PETE, Leon Daniels – TfL, Richard Everitt – Thames Skills Academy


Richard Everitt, Thames Skills Academy Chairman

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New guide to Port of London shipping terminals

A new publication out now highlights the diversity of the port terminals and wharves on the River Thames.

Produced by the Port of London Authority – ‘Port of London Handbook 2016’ sets out key information for people involved in the transport, shipping, freight, logistics and related sectors.

The 148 page full-colour A4 book includes:

  • articles about the latest river and PLA developments
  • details of the different terminals in the Port of London
  • maps showing terminal locations
  • information on facilities and services
  • details of key contacts, maritime businesses, suppliers and agents
  • information on shipping services to and from the Port of London

With the Thames providing great access to and from the biggest market in the UK, this is a useful tool to assist people involved in moving cargoes in and out of the UK.

The digital version is available now at: httpss://

Hardcopies of the Handbook are available free of charge to people working in the transport, shipping, logistics, and freight sectors. To receive a copy, please email: stating your name, company and full postal address.

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Upgraded Port of London Ship’s Bridge Simulator to boost trade and growth

The Port of London Authority (PLA) has invested £250,000 upgrading its ship’s bridge simulator, adding a full tug bridge simulator in a move that is set to enable a boost in port trade and helps terminals verify their expansion plans.

The Thames is the UK’s busiest waterway, handling over 45 million tonnes of cargo a year. For over a decade the bridge simulator has been an essential tool for training the PLA pilots who guide ships to and from their berths on the Thames.

The PLA recently announced plans to recruit twelve new pilots this year to help facilitate increased traffic on the Thames and the simulators will play an integral role in their training.

PLA marine operations director, Peter Steen said:

“This upgrade integrates the latest hydrographic modelling, allowing trainees to learn the characteristics of the Thames from the North Sea right through to central London. It gives pilots the chance to experience all kinds of ships from tankers to container ships, cruise ships to car carriers, before they go on-board and ‘drive’ them for real. It’s rare that you would manoeuvre large ships without tugs helping, so the addition of the totally interactive tug simulator really takes the experience to another level.”

PLA research completed last year showed that Thames terminals have plans to invest over £1 billion in their operations over the next five years, several looking at handling larger ships.

“Many organisations come to the simulator for research and development purposes, to check their proposed new berth plans and to see how their new ships will handle on the river, sometimes before they’ve even left the shipyard for their maiden voyage,” commented Peter Steen. “This enables them to adjust their plans, if need be, and reduce the risk of any unforeseen issues when the vessels actually arrive on the Thames.”

Jason Hornsby, Navigator Terminals UK commercial manager said:

“We have frequently utilised the PLA ship’s bridge simulator to help develop future investment projects that would allow an assortment of vessels to visit our Thames terminal.”

Stuart Strutton, Kotug harbour towage UK general manager said:

“The integration of real hydrographic data and weather modelling into the tug simulator, offers our team very real scenarios to train on.”

In addition to its core role in PLA pilot training, the simulator is also used for coaching pilotage exemption certificate (PEC) holders and specialist training for senior officers from shipping companies, tug masters and pilots from other port authorities.

The PLA simulator team are all Class 1 Unrestricted pilots who bring their everyday knowledge and experience into the training environment. Most training course are attended, in part, by a tug master from one of the tug fleets operating on the river and this is seen as an important addition to the experience and training offered.

Technical Detail

Full mission bridge simulator

  • includes full engine controls, bow and stern thrusters, radar, ECDIS, speed logs, a portable pilotage unit and Azimuth Control Device propulsion and steering
  • variable parameters based on Thames hydrographic modelling, flood and ebb tide, wind speed and direction, meteorological conditions including fog, rain and snow
  • over 70 ship types can be simulated
  • record, pause and rewind allowing review and retry of scenarios
  • print outs of each exercise for post-exercise discussion and evaluation
  • training on traffic management scenarios is available

Tug bridge simulator

  • five kinds of tug can be simulated, Voith, ASD, conventional and rotor/tractor
  • variable parameters based on Thames hydrographic modelling, tug line management, flood and ebb tide, wind speed and direction, weather like fog, rain and snow
  • record, pause and rewind allowing review and retry of scenarios
  • view over the tug bow or stern are available


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PLA’s £7million boat does the trick after storm damage closes pier temporarily

A busy London pier that was shut briefly after Storm Katie struck was reopened thanks to a new tidal Thames superboat.

Fans of TV illusionist Dynamo flocked to North Greenwich Pier last week for a spectacular show at The O2, but they almost had to make other travel arrangements – until the Port of London Authority stepped in with a little bit of magic of its own.

Our £7 million mooring maintenance vessel, London Titan, used her 20-metre extending crane arm to remove part of a damaged canopy which was overhanging the MBNA Thames Clippers stop. The pier had been shut for a day and a half, after Hurricane Katie struck.

Titan’s crew, who were carrying out extensive repair works at nearby Greenwich ship tier, worked quickly to winch the canopy arm safely down onto the pier, before engineers ensured that the site could safely reopen. That meant thousands of MBNA Thames Clippers passengers could disembark there in time for Dynamo’s show.

PLA’s Marine Manager Afloat, Michael Russell, said: “Other vessels on the river could’ve done the job Titan did, but I doubt any would have got there at such short notice.

“When there’s a show on at The O2, Thames Clippers extends its service to bring more people to North Greenwich Pier. If we hadn’t been there to sort the problem out, the pier would’ve remained closed and a lot of people might have missed the event.”

Sean Collins, CEO of MBNA Thames Clippers, revealed that two stops on its 20 pier network were temporarily closed on 28th March due to stormy weather. One, Tower Pier, was reopened within a few hours after TFL staff repaired a piece of roof that had broken off.

“The other was North Greenwich Pier that remained closed for 34 hours and would not have reopened then if it wasn’t for the PLA providing a quick response in mobilising London Titan,” he added. It lifted part of a large cylindrical roof structure that had collapsed in the wind, allowing the pier to safely reopen. Their actions enabled our evening commuters to resume using our service and the many customers that wished to use our services get to The O2 for the Dynamo performance.”

Designed by MacDuff Ship Design, multi-purpose Titan is designed both to keep the river clear of obstructions and ensure channels are clearly marked for all to use. She’s capable of working from Richmond in west London all the way out to the Thames estuary. Her work is vital on a waterway that’s home to the UK’s second-biggest port, the busiest inland waterway for passengers and freight – as well as a centre for recreational activity.

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Blue Space to drive maritime trade, productivity & growth

Located near to the QEII Bridge, on the banks of the River Thames, Blue Space @ SusCon will provide office and training space for innovative maritime businesses to undertake their work. The centre will help support maritime industries, facilitate growth opportunities and demonstrate why work force development is an economic benefit to the sector.

This unique 30,000 sq. ft., £6.5 million facility and its large open areas provides good opportunities for organisations to undertake a wealth of different sessions ranging from classroom based activities to hands on skill based training.

Speaking before the official launch, which saw Blue Space officially opened by the Port of London Authority Chief Harbour Master, Commander David Phillips, Peter Green, National Maritime Chief Executive, explained that the new centre will give maritime businesses a fixed place to support the development of their operations and the industry workforce.

Download full details of Blue Space news release.

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