Prince Charles visited the Scottish Maritime Academy (SMA) at Peterhead last week, when he met fishermen studying to extend their fishing careers, reports David Linkie.

Above: Andrew Reid of Avoch meets HRH The Prince of Wales, watched by Jonathon Dixon, while studying navigation as part of their Class 2 Ticket course.

After being greeted by the local unit of Sea Cadets, HRH The Prince of Wales was introduced to Liz McIntyre, principal of North East Scotland College, and SMA centre manager Linda Hope, by management board member Ann Bell.

The Prince began his hour-long visit to the campus by talking to Gavin Duthie (Sunbeam), Jonathan Bellamy (Unity) and Matthew Sabiston (Farnella), who are studying for their Class I tickets.

Traditional chartwork and navigation skills under the guidance of lecturer Graham Bruce was the focus for seven fishermen, Ray McPhee (Moremma), Andrew Reid (Quantus), Jonathan Dixon (Cornelis Vrolijk), Andrew Reid (Apollo), Danny Fisher Jr (Billy Rooney), David Watson-Spouse (Macduff Shellfish) and Colin Main (Acorn), currently working towards their Class 2 Tickets.

Prince Charles discusses the bridge simulator system with Banff Academy pupil Rory McDermott before guiding a fishing vessel into Peterhead Bay in storm conditions.

After meeting a third group, showcasing their rope skills, including making boarding ladders, monkey’s fists and splicing (without spikes) Prince Charles moved on to the Academy’s bridge simulator control room, where he was met by team leader Peter Duncan and seven pupils from Peterhead and Banff Academies.

The Prince’s tour concluded with him taking the Azimuth control to steer a vessel safely between Peterhead breakwaters in simulated force 10 conditions, during which his previous Royal Navy experienced stood him in good stead.

The timing of the Royal visit coincided with notable increase in fishermen enrolling onto courses at the Scottish Maritime Academy, the maritime centre of excellence of North East Scotland College, over the past six months. This is due, in part, to the upturn in the industry but also the availability of funding from the European Maritime & Fisheries Fund, Seafish and the Maritime Coastguard Agency.

Steven Beagrie from Fraserburgh recently enrolled on the Electronic Navigations Systems at the Academy, and he has been a recipient of this recent funding. Steven is a crewman on Chris Andra and he is working towards his Class 2 fishing ticket. Steven has opted to complete the required short courses ahead of enrolling onto the Class 2 course followed by his oral examinations.

Seven pupils from Peterhead and Banff Academies received their Seafish certificates from college principal and chief executive Liz McIntyre (right) just last week.

“The funding has made a big difference,” he said. “It is a lot of money to find, for the short courses and the upcoming Class 2. I completed the GMDSS GOC course earlier on in the year, which was quite hard, but enjoyable. I am now on the final part of the Electronic Navigation Systems course, which has involved using the Academy’s simulator, which is impressive and realistic.”

The Academy is committed to running courses to improve the skillset of existing fishing professionals and to provide safety training. Courses include: the mandatory safety courses; Deck Officer Class 2 and Class 1 (Fishing). There has been a significant increase in fishermen undertaking these courses.

Linda Hope, centre manager commented: “We are now facilitating the two-day Furuno computer-based, type-specific ECDIS Training, and we have a dedicated workstation that fishermen can book in advance. In addition to the MCA 30-hour Approved Engine Course Part 1 offered to seafarers, we are in the process of developing Part 2 with a view to launching this late 2017.

“We have also adapted the new entrant Trainee Deckhand course so that it incorporates the Seafish mandatory certificates, enabling trainees to enter the fishing industry and many have been successful in getting their first berths.”

The Academy helps young people acquire the skills needed to work at sea in a number of ways. Secondary school pupils are offered the opportunity to enrol on Skills for Work Maritime programme and the Seafish-funded Introduction to Commercial Seafishing course.

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