Officer cadet award 2011

Publisher:Department for Transport
Minister:Mike Penning MP
Publication type:Video
Published date: 7 February 2011
Mode/topic:Shipping, UK Search and Rescue


The British merchant fleet is known the world over for maintaining the highest standards in shipping and is managed by the United Kingdom Ship Register, which is operated within the Maritime and Coastguard Agency. The training of young officers is very important and Karley Smith, currently a Third Officer with Sealion Shipping, is this year's winner of the Officer Trainee of the Year award.

Date filmed: January 2011


Narrator: Karley Smith, a third officer with Sealion Shipping, is this year’s winner of the Officer Trainee of the Year award. The British merchant fleet is known the world over for maintaining the highest standards in shipping, and is managed by the United Kingdom Ship Register which is operated within the Maritime & Coastguard Agency, and, as MCA chief executive Sir Alan Massey explains, the training of young officers is very important.

Sir Alan Massey, Chief Executive, Maritime & Coastguard Agency: We’ve been running this competition for a few years now and we do it because although we’re a safety agency we also run the British flag, so any British-flagged vessel comes under our auspices, and we’re very interested in having a vibrant shipping industry that’s populated with bright young people who come through, and provide the sort of career structure that exists, that makes British officers, you know, amongst the best in the world.  And so we’re desperately proud of people like Karley because they do represent so much that’s good about British youth and so much that’s good about our shipping industry.

N: Karley studied at Blackpool and the Fylde College, sponsored by James Fisher and Sons plc, and trained with Pacific Nuclear Transport Limited.  So what inspired her to pursue a career in the Merchant Navy?

Karley Smith, Third Officer with Sealion Shipping: I wanted something that was varied, and I also wanted to study a degree course, and the year I applied they’d started running a foundation degree in nautical science, and it was all a brand new course, and I decided to give it a shot, see what it was going to offer, because there’s no student debt attached to a qualification in the Merchant Navy when you do a cadetship, as a training company sponsors you through and pays for your training, your accommodation, and also gives you a wage.

N: Cadetships are a combination of academic study and practical work experience.

KS: It's split into phases so you do some phases at college and some phases at sea. You basically you learn some subjects and then put it into practice on a ship, come back to the college, learn more subjects, put that into practice on a ship, and then come back to the college in the end, do your exams, and then qualify as an officer, providing all goes well. I would recommend it because, as I said, it’s so different. There's a lot of careers available - you don't necessarily have to stay at sea, there’s a lot of shore positions available as soon as you have seagoing experience – and I think it’s a good career to be in.

SAM: So there's banking, insurance, finance, ship-broking, all of those sort of supporting industries. London remains the centre of international shipping and long may it continue, and we do need people with the skills of Karley.

N: Minister for Shipping Mike Penning is keen to emphasise the importance of a strong and growing merchant shipping fleet.

Mike Penning, Minister for Shipping: I think it’s hugely important: 96% of all imports come into this country and our exports that go out, come in by sea, so we are a world leader in shipping and we need to continue to do so, and this Government will support them in that.  And the reputation and the skills of our fleet, 1,600 ships plus now, and that’s something we need to not only protect but grow, because if we’re going to get out of this economic situation that we’re in, then we need growth. We're continuing to support the training of young cadets coming through into the Merchant Navy, that’s very, very important. Everybody needs their skills and their professionalism and their dedication recognised, and Karley won the award nationally, so that’s why I brought her here to the Department of Transport, to the Shipping Minister's office. I mean, the Red Ensign is renowned around the world, you know. I'm not only responsible for the Red Ensign but also the British protectorate flag fleets. They are world renowned as great officers and good ships and that’s something that I intend to continue.

KS: On most ships I’ve been on I’ve been the only female. It doesn’t put me off in any way but I would like to see more females coming to sea, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t and there’s no reason why they shouldn’t want to do a career like this. They're certainly capable, so why not?

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