Mersey Maritime - A driving force for the maritime industry on merseysideMersey Maritime - A driving force for the maritime industry on merseyside

Category : Monthly Ezine

By Mersey Maritime

Mersey Maritime engages with UK’s two biggest political parties

Mersey Maritime has made its presence felt at the annual conferences of Britain’s two main political parties as it looks to cement its position as the leading voice in the UK’s maritime strategy.

With both Labour and Conservatives closely matched in the polls, it is crucial for the organisation to make sure it establishes and maintains strong relationships with the leading figures in both parties.

Lunch event

During the Labour Party Conference in Liverpool, Mersey Maritime joined forces with Maritime UK to to organise a lunch on board Merseyside’s only floating restaurant, Floating Grace, attended by members of the shadow cabinet and by local maritime firms.

The session proved invaluable in offering companies the chance to speak to leading opposition politicians and, in turn, the politicians themselves were offered a fascinating insight into Liverpool city region’s £4bn maritime sector.

Driving growth

And the following week, Mersey Maritime chief executive Chris Shirling-Rooke, spoke at an event at the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham the following week called Coastal Powerhouse: The Role of Maritime in Driving UK Growth.

Other speakers included Sir Bernard Jenkin, MP for Harwich and North Essex, John Murray, chief executive, Society of Maritime Industries, Tim Morris, chief executive, UK Major Ports Group, and Jonathan Roberts, communications director, UK Chamber of Shipping.

Mr Shirling-Rooke told those present how Liverpool city region’s maritime sector was a powerhouse that had established itself as the most successful maritime industry cluster in the UK and how it now had a great opportunity to prosper from increased transatlantic trade in the post-Brexit world.

He said: “Mersey Maritime and the Liverpool city region cluster model is now seen as the exemplar for the maritime sector by the Department for International Trade and we expect our model to be rolled out nationally.”

Challenges and opportunities

Talking about Mersey Maritime’s presence at both conferences, he said: “At the end of next March Britain will leave the European Union in what is probably the most significant change the UK has experienced in decades.

“Maritime is a growing global sector and Brexit will provide both challenges and opportunities for Merseyside and UK firms.

“We wanted to get the message out loud and clear to our political leaders that the Merseyside maritime sector is ready to take a lead role in our post-Brexit future and help push forward the UK economy.”

By Mersey Maritime

Member of the Month: RSM

With the possible Brexit date of March 29, 2019, drawing closer, the lack of certainty and potential implications remain for many businesses. Although the final outcomes are unknown, the possible options and available models are, therefore businesses can undertake possible testing and planning now in preparation.

In September, accountancy firm RSM joined forces with Mersey Maritime to host an event at its 20 Chapel Street office, in the heart of Liverpool’s commercial district, to discuss the variety of potential indirect tax impacts of Brexit, including cash flow constraints, additional costs and logistical implications.

Andy Gott, associate director and indirect tax specialist at RSM, said: “Currently there is a lack of information and certainty on what businesses can expect once Britain leaves the EU and there is a particular concern about what a no-deal Brexit will mean for businesses.

“While we don’t have all the answers – at this point, no one does – businesses can still explore the impacts of likely models and the possible implications on their supply chains by scenario planning the possible outcomes.”

The key message from the session was ‘preparation’. While some larger businesses are already planning for the different outcomes of negotiations, many mid-sized and owner-managed businesses may struggle due to resource constraints and have adopted a ‘wait and see’ attitude, which could be a risky strategy.

Possible areas that businesses could be addressing include

  • Reviewing supply chains – how could they be affected under a ‘no deal’ scenario? Even if your business is buying from a UK supplier, are they in turn importing components or raw materials from the EU?
  • Considering the impacts of delays for goods moving through ports and Customs.  The possible delays could arise from the additional checks and declarations required post-Brexit but also from the possible implementation issues of HMRC’s new import declaration system.
  • Stress testing margins for possible additional customs duties. Businesses should begin considering introducing Brexit clauses into contracts.
  • What are the cash flow implications on the business of additional import VAT?
  • Are there any mitigation opportunities that could benefit business post-Brexit, for example customs warehousing?

RSM is a leading audit, tax and consulting firm to the middle market with over 3,800 partners and staff operating from 35 locations throughout the UK. For the year ending 31 March 2017, RSM generated revenues of £319m.

RSM UK is a member firm of RSM International – the sixth largest network of audit, tax and consulting firms globally. The network spans more than 120 countries, 800 offices and more than 43,000 people, with a fee income of $(US)5.1bn.

By Mersey Maritime

Merseytravel & Merseyrail invite you to step on board their new trains

Merseytravel and Mersreyrail are offering members of the public the opportunity to step on board a full-size mock-up of one of the new trains that are due to come into service in 2021.

Production of the 52 units by Swiss manufacturer Stadler is currently under way at its factory with the first of the carriages due to arrive in Liverpool in 2019.

A replica carriage which is fully fitted out and includes working doors and a driver’s cab has been built and will go on display in Wirral and in Liverpool city centre in October and November.

The detailed and lifelike replica train is fully interactive, with working doors and an automatic sliding step which will bridge the gap between the train and platform edge, making the network more accessible to all users – including wheelchairs users.

Visitors will be able to walk along the open and spacious aisles, try the new wider seats and even take a look at the technology inside the driver’s cab.

Staff will be on hand to talk through the features of the new trains. These features – chosen with the input and guidance of Liverpool city region residents and rail network users – include phone charging points and bike racks. The carriage will be on display at

Pacific Road, Birkenhead, October 1 to 14, Monday to Sunday, 8am to 5.30pm, Tuesday 8am to 7.30pm
Liverpool Lime Street, 5-18 November 5 to 18, Monday  to Sunday, 7am to 6.30pm

Steve Rotheram, Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor said: “It is fantastic news that our train mock-up will be heading across the water in the next two weeks and to Lime Street in November.

“Before the new trains were designed and ordered, we asked the public what features they would like to see on them. We listened – and because of this – by 2020 we will see the most sophisticated trains in the country arrive on our network.”

By Mersey Maritime

LJMU offers programme of paid internships

Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) is to fund a programme of paid internships to offer graduates and undergraduates the opportunity to get real work experience.

LJMU will fund up to 140 hours/20 day internships and each intern will be paid a living wage by the university for the duration of the internship.

The host organisation commits to participating in the recruitment process, giving applicants feedback, giving the successful interns an appropriate experience of the world of work and a reference.

Corinne McGinty, marketing and events co-ordinator at Mersey Maritime is an enthusiastic supporter of the project having seen the value of internships from the point of view of both an intern and working in an organisation that has employed interns.

She said: “In 2014 LJMU helped me to secure a funded internship with the International Festival for Business (IFB). Prior to starting I was invited to a training day with the World of Work to ensure I was prepared, make sure I got the best out my time there and knew how to record the experiences and skills I was gaining on my CV.

“This was something that gave me the confidence to get stuck into my placement, asking questions, looking for opportunities to do more and learn as much as possible.

“In 2016, having secured a graduate job in the sponsorship team with IFB as a direct result of the internship, I had the opportunity to recruit 11 interns to assist us at the festival.

“They were a fantastic asset, arriving ready for the work environment and providing us with the extra capacity our small team needed to ensure that our sponsors were looked after. I think it’s a no brainer for businesses to take advantage of this ‘free’ talent.”

For more information on the programme contact LJMU’s Employer Engagement Team on 0151 231 8751 or email

By Mersey Maritime

Irish Sea ferry operator Stena Line pilots artificial intelligence on its vessels

Birkenhead to Belfast ferry operator Stena Line is to trial artificial intelligence (AI) to help guide its ships to find the most fuel efficient route between ports.

The Swedish company which owns 38 vessels, including Stena Mersey and Stena Lagan which operate in the Mersey most days, is aiming to implement AI navigation across its entire fleet by 2021.

On such as Liverpool to Belfast, which runs twice a day across the Irish Sea, there are a number of variables that determine how much fuel is used, including currents, weather conditions, shallow water and speed through water.

As skilled as the captains and crews are, making such calculations taking into account the different combinations is impossible to do manually.

New model

In close collaboration with the technology company Hitachi, an AI model is being developed that will help predict the most fuel-efficient way to operate a certain vessel on a specific route.

The model will be a support for the captain and officers on board, and if successful it will make an important contribution to Stena Line’s sustainability target to reduce fuel consumption by 2.5 % annually.

Lars Carlsson, head of AI at Stena Line, said: “The model simulates many different scenarios before suggesting the most optimal route and performance setup.”

Senior Master

The model is still under development with the first pilot study taking place on Stena Scandinavica, under the supervision of Senior Master Jan Sjöström who has been working with fuel optimisation at Stena Line for the last 40 years.

“Since we are helping the AI to evolve, this is a very exciting and rewarding process,” said Mr Sjöström. “We’ve been making adjustments to the model after each trip for about four weeks and it is amazing to see how quickly it is learning.

The goal is to create a model that is so precise that it would be the ultimate decision support system for the captain when planning each trip. For example, if AI could assist with accurate predictions of currents, which is one of the most complicated variables today, it would help even the most experienced captain or officer.

Moving forward, the model will also help sharing competence and knowledge to the next generation of captains and officers.

Fuel efficient

Mr Sjöström added: “Planning a trip and handling a vessel in a safe and, at the same time, fuel efficient way is craftsmanship. Practice makes perfect, but when assisted by AI a new captain or officer could learn how to fuel optimise quicker. In return, this contributes to a more sustainable journey.”

Stena Line’s overall goal is that the whole company should be assisted by AI in 2021 and the pilot study on Stena Scandinavica, on the Gothenburg – Kiel route, is the first of several studies involving AI-assisted ferry trips within the fleet this year.

At the end of the year there will be an evaluation of the project, before deciding how to continue with AI-assistance on the company’s 38 ship

By Mersey Maritime

Wirral Chamber travels to the Isle of Man for Construction Forum

Members of Wirral Chamber of Commerce Construction Forum have returned from the Isle of Man after participating in a day long trade meeting with the Isle of Man Chamber of Commerce.

The event, which took place at the Salmon Lake Centre in Laxey, has enabled a number of positive links to be made and collaborative discussions to take place on a wide range of construction-related areas with counterparts from the island’s construction sector.

This included best practice, knowledge transfer, skill development and a brief regarding developments, particularly on projects such as the coastal defence, Douglas Promenade redevelopments, and investment schemes which are proposed for Wirral.

Leading the Wirral sector group were Paula Basnett, chief executive of Wirral Chamber and Paul Cardwell from Bromborough-based Capital Reinforcing and vice chair of the Construction Forum.

Mr Cardwell highlighted the importance of the visit to the island, saying: “We have developed a very strong, vibrant Construction Sector Forum in Wirral and it is key to its continual development that we look to create positive partnerships, such as the links we have built with the Isle of Man.

“In this way we can enable members of both the respective forums to learn from each and have a platform to strengthen links and look at possible project opportunities.”

During the day more than 60 delegates from the Isle of Man and Wirral took part in discussions with representatives from the Manx Department’s of Enterprise, Infrastructure, together with Wirral Council and the Wirral Met College.

Stephen Smyth, Construction Sector Lead, Isle of Man Chamber, added: “It was great to see businesses from our respective areas exploring ways in which they can complement each other, and work together for mutual benefit.”

By Mersey Maritime

Royal HaskoningDHV completes project at earthquake-hit New Zealand port

Engineering consultancy Royal HaskoningDHV has completed a contract with the operator of the Port of Wellington in New Zealand to assess an area that was hit by the 2016 earthquake.

The Mersey Maritime member has undertaken an operational ferry traffic study for a parcel of port land due for immediate use in October 2018, on behalf of CentrePort.

Both the short and medium-term usage of the land is to be considered along with other driving factors such as the repair and upgrade of adjacent wharfs.

New use

The land area known as the ‘E’ site has been prepared for use following the demolition of a port-related building which stood on this land until the earthquake in November 2016, an event which compromised much of the operational port area of Wellington, particularly the container yard and the ferry berths used by Strait NZ Bluebridge.

Several of the buildings immediately adjacent to Glasgow Wharf and Kings Wharf (the ferry berths) were also affected by the earthquake.

CentrePort has already started a programme of works that are designed to bring the port back to maximum efficiency given the condition of the berths, while developing an overall master plan that is to be implemented over the coming years.

Ferry service

Bluebridge offers a freight and passenger route between the North and South Islands, servicing a variety of clients from the general public to commercial businesses. The mix of vehicles to be catered for in the marshalling areas requires careful consideration, both in terms of outgoing vehicles and incoming items that are not heading straight for the port outgate.

To fully understand the port layout and operational logistics at the Bluebridge berth at Kings Wharf, Royal HaskoningDHV deployed one of its senior ferry port operational master planners to Wellington from August 30 to the September 7.

Two vessels

Bluebridge currently operates a two-vessel service to the South Island with the MV Straitsman and the MV Strait Feronia. The fully laden vessel scenario was used to master plan the port layout options for both vessels under the medium-term plans.

Following the port visit and interviews with the management team of Bluebridge, Royal HaskoningDHV developed five options which CentrePort can carry forward into discussions with Bluebridge.  Each option offers a planned route for the short-term use of the land and wharf areas through to the medium-term requirements.

By Mersey Maritime

Exporting boosts productivity, delegates at trade event are told

UK companies that trade overseas can see their productivity rise by up to 34%, a major export event hosted at Mersey Maritime’s headquarters was told.

The Maritime Knowledge Hub in Birkenhead was the venue for the latest instalment of the Institute of Export and International Trade’s World Trade Summit programme, which saw speakers share their knowledge and experiences of international trade.

Deputy Mayor of Liverpool Gary Millar revealed the Government data that linked productivity to exporting in a speech described as “inspiring” by the institute. Cllr Millar drew on his long career selling businesses overseas, and also promoting Liverpool and the UK to the world.

Global opportunities

Among the many intriguing stories he related from his exporting past, was how an introduction of colour to typically mundane products such stair edgings and door handles earned him significant contracts with corporate giants, including fast food chain McDonalds.

His point about more companies needing to look at the opportunities that export brings was echoed by Luke Fitzsimmons of Bibby Financial Services and Chris Manka  from the Federation of Small Businesses, both of whom advocated the strength of ‘Brand Britain’ as a key asset for UK businesses when selling overseas.

Power of clusters

Mersey Maritime chief executive Chris Shirling-Rooke also addressed the delegates on the power of maritime clusters. Liverpool city region has now established itself as the most successful maritime cluster in the UK, with an annual GVA contribution of almost £4bn.

He outlined how the cluster model was a powerful tool in facilitating and increasing international trade and spoke of the local support provided by Mersey Maritime through the clustering of academic institutes and local government to provide support that isn’t driven by private interests, but by the need to grow local economies and jobs.

The discussion was chaired by Lesley Batchelor, director general of the Institute of Export and International Trade, who emphasised that exporting takes time and it needs to be done properly if companies don’t want to make costly mistakes.

She repeated the presentation she has made throughout this year’s programme calling for businesses to learn the skills of export – especially with Brexit coming up so fast.

By Mersey Maritime

Knitters produce 5,000 warm hats for seafarers arriving in Liverpool

Seafarers coming in to the Port of Liverpool will now get an even warmer welcome than usual thanks to the efforts of 25 Wirral knitters.

The team of women, led by Jackie Scanlon, from St Joseph’s Parish Church, in Upton, have spent seven years knitting more than 5,000 hats in a project for Liverpool Seafarers Centre.

“We are all absolutely thrilled to have reached this milestone,” said Jackie. “We started off from very humble beginnings in 2011 when we were asked to knit a few hats. It really took off and while not everyone in the parish knits, many people got involved by donating wool and material.

“When the seafarers arrive in Liverpool, they are often looking for some form of comfort and respite, and with the cold wet conditions they endure we have found that new, warm woolly hats go down a treat.

“We never thought we would end up producing this volume of hats, but the demand just keeps coming, and we take great pride in offering the service.”

Forces connection

Jackie has has a strong connection with the British Armed Forces, as a former RAF Cosford and RAF Lyneham recruit. Her son Andrew is a former Royal Navy officer, while her father John, aged 91, is a Merchant Navy veteran with long-term involvement with Liverpool Seafarers Centre.

She added: “In Merseyside we have such a strong emotional connection with the sea. There are so many families who have a link with the shipyard, the Royal Navy, or seafaring.

“My family is no exception. My father John has always instilled in us the importance of serving in the community and he still joins us now to hand the hats out to seafarers, because it’s so close to his heart.

“We’re hugely grateful to all the members of our parish who have supported the initiative over the years, whether it be knitting or supplying wool.

“Members from another community group called Rhythm and Line who use the parish hall have also greatly contributed. Without each and every persons’ efforts we would never have been so successful.”

Vital support

Liverpool Seafarers Centre offers wide-ranging support to 50,000 seafarers who pass through the River Mersey ports and berths every year. The charity is an ecumenical partnership between the Apostleship of the Sea (Liverpool) and The Mersey Mission to Seafarers.

Chief executive John Wilson added: “We are incredibly fortunate to have such strong support from people across our region who recognise the importance of seafarer welfare. However, we are keen to reach out to more local community groups, fellowships, businesses and volunteers who may not have heard of Liverpool Seafarers Centre and can help support our vital work.”

By Mersey Maritime

Liverpool Airport enjoys its busiest month for seven years in August

Liverpool John Lennon Airport (LJLA) enjoyed its busiest month in seven years in August, handling more than 535,000 passengers.

It was a 3% rise on August 2017 and contributed to a 2.5% increase in business for the year to date. Almost 3.5m passengers have passed through LJLA this year – over 86,000 more than in 2017.

A number of new services have taken off in recent months including flights to Palma and Malaga with Blue Air, to Pula, Dalaman and Palermo with easyJet, to Shannon with Ryanair and most recently Wideroe’s new service to Bergen.

These new routes have all helped to boost passenger numbers, in addition to higher passenger loads on existing well-established routes.

LJLA also claims the passenger experience is improving with queue times for passengers to go through security remaining low throughout August with 98% of passengers taking 10 mins or less to pass through.

This latest performance follows a recent report by consumer magazine Which? showing that Liverpool was one of the best UK airports in terms of customer satisfaction.

Growth is expected to continue in the coming months at LJLA too, with a number of new routes due to start later in the year including Wizz Air flights to Cluj, Iasi and Bucharest, a Ryanair service to Paphos and an easyJet service to Toulouse.


By Mersey Maritime

SeaKing electrical teams delivers Channel ferry project

Engineers from Birkenhead marine specialist SeaKing have completed a major upgrade project on three shortsea ferries operated by Danish shipping company DFDS Seaways.

The four-week project took place at Damen Dunkerque Shipyard in France involving MS Dunkerque Seaways, MS Dover Seaways and MS Delft Seaways. The three passenger and car ferries operate in the English Channel running between Dover and Dunkerque.

SeaKing Electrical managing director Dave Gillam said a 10-man team of engineering specialists were sent to complete the job, adding: “Work consisted of electrical upgrades to improve entertainment reception to 80 cabins and fitting of VDSs (Variable Speed Drives) to car deck vent fans.

“A total of 16 VDSs were fitted on decks 3, 5 and 10 on each ship. The existing drives had degraded due to age and exposure to warm conditions. These drives play a vital role to help reduce fuel consumption, energy use and CO2 emissions.

“The project was made more complex due to the timescales and working across multiple vessels requiring careful planning and project management. It demonstrates SeaKing’s ability to provide a quick response project turnaround and flexibility to travel anywhere in the world whilst tackling an electrical engineering challenge.”

DFDS fleet manager Nigel Cureton added: “This was a highly demanding project due to the tight timescales. We commend SeaKing’s work ethic, performance and quality of workmanship which were exceptional from start to finish.”

The news comes shortly after SeaKing announced a tender win from Cumbria County Council to repair The Mallard car ferry, operating in England’s Lake District.

SeaKing Electrical caters for the marine, industrial, commercial, military and offshore markets, specialising in electrical and electronics engineering.


By Mersey Maritime

Members join discussion on national ‘Women in Maritime’ campaign

Executives from across Liverpool City Region’s £4bn maritime sector have met to discuss their role in a national campaign to increase the number of women working in the maritime sector.

At the Birkenhead headquarters of industry body Mersey Maritime, people from a diverse range of businesses including KVH, Liverpool Cruise Terminal and Taylor Marine took part in a lively discussion on the issues around the initiative, which has been launched by Maritime UK.

Charter launch

Mersey Maritime commercial manager Ruth Wood, who sits on the ‘Women in Maritime’ taskforce, delivered a presentation about the campaign and the September launch of the Women in Maritime Charter. The taskforce comprises both maritime industry leaders and high-level Government officials.

Businesses will be asked to sign up to the Charter and commit to driving greater diversity within their organisations – from the shop floor to the boardroom.

Ruth told those assembled at the Birkenhead event: “The Women in Maritime initiative is about promoting equality and fairness across the maritime sector. The launch of the Charter is for businesses to pledge their support for creating positive change within their own organisations. Working with the taskforce, signatories will set out stretching targets with agreed timeframes to improve gender diversity that will be reported against regularly.

Numbers game

A number of important points were raised including making sure that the campaign didn’t simply become a “numbers game” where firms would simply fill lower-skilled roles with women. Ruth explained that the charter would assess gender diversity across four key areas – recruitment, promotion, retention and the proportion of women in decision-making roles.

There was an agreement that the campaign needed to be a catalyst for deeper cultural change where diversity at all levels of a company or organisation was the norm. Further supported by the need to better promote the diverse range of career choices in the maritime sector, particularly amongst young people.

Charter launch

Mersey Maritime will be hosting the Northern launch of the Women in Maritime Charter on Thursday, September 13, at Liverpool Town Hall. The event marks a number of celebrations taking place across the country as part of Maritime UK Week.

The event is being sponsored by the Mayor of Liverpool, Merchant Navy Training Board and Complete Training Solutions and will provide businesses with the opportunity to find out more about the Women in Maritime initiative and the Charter.

Attendees will have the opportunity to hear from the Women in Maritime taskforce, businesses who have already signed the pledge and some inspirational female role models from the industry.

Speakers include:

  • Sue Terpilowski, Chair of the Women in Maritime Taskforce
  • Angie Redhead, Head of City Assets, Culture Liverpool
  • Kathryn Neilson, Director, Merchant Navy Training Board
  • Julia Bradley, Director of Sales and Marketing, Peel Ports Group

For further information on the event and to register to attend please click here. The event is accessible for both members and non-members of Mersey Maritime.

Mersey Maritime engages with UK’s two biggest political parties
Member of the Month: RSM
Merseytravel & Merseyrail invite you to step on board their new trains
LJMU offers programme of paid internships
Irish Sea ferry operator Stena Line pilots artificial intelligence on its vessels
Wirral Chamber travels to the Isle of Man for Construction Forum
Royal HaskoningDHV completes project at earthquake-hit New Zealand port
Exporting boosts productivity, delegates at trade event are told
Knitters produce 5,000 warm hats for seafarers arriving in Liverpool
Liverpool Airport enjoys its busiest month for seven years in August
SeaKing electrical teams delivers Channel ferry project
Members join discussion on national ‘Women in Maritime’ campaign