Last week, Southampton Solent University’s opened its new £6 million home for officer cadet training and first certification courses at Warsash Maritime Academy. HRH The Princess Royal visited the new facilities at the University’s St. Mary’s Campus to commemorate the occasion.

The new premises will provide cadets with a modern teaching environment, brand new engineering workshops, a welding area, electrical control laboratories, an ECDIS simulator suite and Marine-Electro-Technical Officer (METO) workshops. 

“The development at St. Mary’s Campus is the first phase of our investment plans into maritime education and training at Solent,” explains Vice-Chancellor of Solent University, Professor Graham Baldwin. “It has modernised our facilities and allows us to build on the heritage and expertise associated with Warsash Maritime Academy. We are proud that Warsash has become world-renowned for providing a cadetship programme and a number of professional short courses for more than 70 years.”

The Princess Royal also went on to visit the University’s ship handling centre at Timsbury Lake, which is one of only five in the world, and had a tour of the lake aboard the ‘Challenger’ vessel, a scale model of a ro-ro ferry. The lake includes a four-mile scale length canal, buoyed channels, critical bends, turning basins, and harbour areas with 19 jetties where complex manoeuvres can be learnt and practiced in a scaled environment. The focus of training for masters, offers and pilots is around slow-speed control of ships and large yachts.

Warsash Superyacht Academy launched its three-year cadetship in 2016, in collaboration with Trinity House. Specifically tailored to the superyacht industry, it leads to the MCA OOW (Unlimited) CoC. The programme consists of five phases which alternate between academic studies at Warsash, which will now take advantage of the new facilities, and time at sea to gain practical experience on board superyachts and commercial vessels. 

Warsash’s September 2016 intake of cadets included the first select group of cadets aiming specifically for the yacht industry, who embarked on a training programme that has been enhanced to better prepare them for the sector. Currently in her second year of the cadetship, Lotty Astbury was attracted by the option of a cadetship at an esteemed maritime school that promised to launch her into a professional career.

“In terms of starting out in the superyacht industry, it is fairly unusual for someone to come in with an OOW ticket, particularly with an unlimited ticket, as most crew start their career as deckhands and then work their way up,” she explains. “Therefore, I think the cadetship will speed up my career progression in the long run.”

Such programmes play an important role in introducing well-trained, committed and professional crew into the maritime industry. Solent's £6 million investment provides a platform from which cadet training can hopefully gain more recognition and appreciation in the superyacht industry.

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