The start of the cadetship
I am doing a foundation degree route and I am thereby sponsored by Maersk Supply Service through Chiltern Maritime. I have just completed my first phase at sea (phase 2 of the cadetship) and I am about to start the subsequent academic third phase at Warsash.
Starting at the beginning of my experience, in phase one; I came into this cadetship not exactly knowing what to expect. I do not have a navy background, the only connection was my dad being a Royal Marine. I had previously been sailing and on ferries but my knowledge of being at sea was limited.
Phase one during the education is spent as a “normal university experience”, where we are meeting new people and studying. The studying aspect is left for you to decide how much effort you put in. The lecturers will suggest how much time a week you should spend doing additional work. After your exams you spend two weeks completing courses at the old Warsash campus. This includes fire fighting, survival techniques, first aid and beginning ship techniques (EDH course). Before going to sea, I also had to complete a helicopter underwater escape training course. The courses are a lot of fun after the intense few months of studying and exams!
Phase two of the cadetship
Moving on to phase two, the part I was most concerned about and my first trip at sea. This can be very daunting and something no one can really prepare you fully for. I spent around 5 months from the 18th of March till the 8th of August on the Maersk Forza around the west coast of Africa.
After Africa I was sent to Ghana. This ment that I would have to take my first flight on my own from London Heathrow. When I got to Ghana, I had to go through immigration and security to then be picked up from the airport by the ships agency and taken to the airport hotel. In the morning, I had agreed to meet the agency at 5 as I had an internal flight to catch half past 5 in order to make my way to Takoradi and finally Sekondi Naval base.
I thought I would be uncontrollably nervous, but instead I mostly felt excited and ready for this next stage.
The special bond onboard
For the next few weeks I spent my time trying to find my way around the ship and getting to know everyone onboard. I would split my time evenly into deck work and bridge work, and I had time off in the weekends to study.
My daily routine often started at the bridge where I talked to the chief mate who would give me a range of options for the day. I would get involved with what the AB’s were doing, painting chipping, replacing wooden decks and general maintenance of the ship. I was also helping with tasks from the ships maintenance and IFS system. This involved safety checks of the LSA and FFE, checking the contents of the lifeboats, fire extinguishers, BA sets and a range of other tasks. The navigation side was mostly taught by the second officers on duty. I was shown how to create passage plans, use the bridge equipment such as ECDIS, GMDSS and the DP system.
It wasn’t all work though! I would also spend hours on the bridge just talking to the officers and crew, this often involved some questionable karaoke nights, which really helped when I was missing home. I still have weekly communications with most people on the ship, a month after I have disembarked and everyone has made it clear that if I need help I can contract them at any time.
Doing a cadetship has been one of the most rewarding experiences, and I have loved my time at college and at sea. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I have – and I wish you all luck for the future.
//Beth Pattrick 🌊
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