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Ratings Join Up

Six young seafarers employed by NorthLink Ferries have embarked on a new training programme at the NAFC Marine Centre UHI.

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The Modern Apprenticeship Ratings with Amber Johnson of NorthLink Ferries (centre).

The students, from Orkney and Shetland, have enrolled on the Modern Apprenticeship programme to train as deck or engine-room ratings for the merchant navy. Over the course of the programme they will spend time working at sea on board NorthLink ships interspersed with periods of study at NAFC. The training programme will last either 18 months, for engine room ratings, or 24 months for deck ratings.

The students met this week with Amber Johnson who is a 2nd Officer with NorthLink Ferries and will be their company mentor during their training. Ms Johnson was able to provide them with a valuable insight into life at sea, as well as answering their questions.

Ratings undertake a range of important tasks on ships. For deck ratings these will include maintenance and repair work, checking and operating equipment, cargo handling, mooring the ship in port, security and firefighting duties, assisting the officer of the watch with navigation duties, and acting as lookout or steersman.

The duties of engine room ratings include the maintenance, servicing and repair of machinery in the engine room and elsewhere on the ship, and of electrical and safety systems (such as fire alarms and air conditioning), and assisting the engineering officer of the watch by monitoring the safe running of the engineering plant and other equipment.

On successful completion of the programme students will receive a Modern Apprenticeship in Maritime Occupations and a qualification in Maritime Studies from the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA), and will be qualified to act as Able Seafarers.

NAFC's Head of Merchant Navy Training Laura Burden said that she was delighted that NorthLink Ferries have chosen NAFC to train their seafarers. "This Modern Apprenticeship is a fabulous opportunity for local young people to train for an excellent career at sea. Contrary to what is often believed there are many job opportunities for British ratings in the merchant navy, particularly on ferries and offshore supply vessels, with many companies actively recruiting to fill posts left vacant by an aging workforce. We hope that other companies will follow NorthLink's lead and take up the training opportunities that NAFC can offer, and look forward to working with these trainees as they take their first steps towards a career in the Merchant Navy."

Lewis Fraser, one of the apprentice deck ratings, sees the apprenticeship as a "great opportunity". He enrolled after seeing the opportunity advertised in the Shetland Times and is "really enjoying the course, learning lots of new things and meeting a wide range of interesting people."

See full details of the Modern Apprenticeships for deck and engine room ratings:

Further information is available from Laura Burden.