Life At Sea
Company: Shell Ship Management Limited (SSML)
College: Fleetwood Nautical Campus
Programme: Phase: 3rd Year Deck Cadet
I've always been interested in the sea and in ships in particular. When I was growing up my dad was in the merchant navy so I guess I have always been around the industry since I was young. When I started looking for a career after school this was always my first choice. I was very lucky when I started looking at a career at sea as I live near a nautical college so was able to go in and speak to people there who could give me lots of advice. After this I applied to a number of different companies and after a number of interviews eventually ended up as a cadet with Shell.
During the first phase at college all the cadets lived in halls of residence and I think this helped us to really bond as a group. Although you have a lot of work while your at college, you also have plenty of opportunities to get out and enjoy yourselves. One of my favourite times at college was when we had to do what are called the short courses. These are things like sea survival and fire fighting. They were completely different to what I had done in the past and it was also great to get out of the classroom and do something really hands on. Although you hope to never have to use the skills for real, it is a great experience to learn how to use all the fire fighting equipment such as breathing apparatus and how to attack and fight different types of fires.
One of the things I found different at college was the way the everyone around you, other cadets and staff, were always happy to help you out. Because the staff are all ex seafarers they are very experienced with what they teach and have probably been through what you are going through themselves.
Before I joined my first ship I was a bit nervous as I was going to be stepping into the unknown. Although we had been taught and prepared at college, it was still a big thing to step onto the ship for the first time. After the first week or two though I started to settle in and get used to my new environment and after that I really started to enjoy my new office. During my cadetship I have already been to 12 different countries including the USA, Mexico, Turkey, Singapore, Nigeria and Norway. I have also sailed with officers and crew from the UK, Croatia, India, Pakistan, Philippines, Canada, USA and Nigeria. The atmosphere on board the ships is usually really good, everyone speaks English and its really interesting to be able to see lots of different places and meet people from all over the world. As a cadet onboard you are learning all of the different jobs onboard. Although you spend the most time on the bridge, you also do work on deck, doing everything from simple painting through to complicated tank inspections.
When you are onboard ship you will usually have your own cabin, although some cabins have bunk beds meaning cadets occasionally have to share. In addition to that, all your meals are made for you, and certainly on the ships I’ve sailed on the food has been excellent. Because of the multinational nature of the ships company on our ships, we get several options for your meals each day, meaning there is always a choice if you don’t like one option. While you are onboard communications with home can be a big thing for some people. All the ships I’ve sailed on have had satellite phones that you can buy phone cards for. In addition to this we have started to get internet on the ships now, although this isn’t the broadband you might get at home, it is certainly good enough to do your emails and keep up to date on facebook.