My career in the maritime industry started in 1965 when, at the age of sixteen I joined the Merchant Navy. My first experience of life at sea was with Alfred Holt & Company (universally known as “the Blue Funnel line”), probably the most famous Liverpool shipping company of its time.
In 1972 I sat the examination for 2nd Officer. I was then offered a position as 2nd Officer with the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company, a post I held for a further two years.
In 1974 I joined Esso Petroleum Company as 2nd Officer and ultimately served as 1st Officer on product tankers operating throughout European waters.
In 1978 I enrolled at Fleetwood Nautical College studying for my Masters certification. During this time I took temporary employment with Mersey Docks & Harbour Company, the port authority for the Port of Liverpool. I found the work varied and interesting and so on completion of my Masters examination I successfully applied for a permanent position with MD&HC.
Over the next twenty three years I served as Master of various vessels owned and operated by MD&HC. I also acted on occasions as a relief Duty Officer at the Port Radar Station which eventually became known as VTS (Vessel Traffic Service) in line with international convention.
In 2001 I was offered and accepted the position of Assistant Harbour Master. In 2004 I was promoted to Deputy Harbour Master.
The role of Deputy Harbour Master for the Port of Liverpool meant that one of my responsibilities was that of VTS Manager. This required that I fully understand the recently introduced V103 international qualification for VTS operators. To this end I completed the V103/1 VTS Operator course at South Tyneside College and gained the qualification.
In 2008 I opted for early retirement and my thirty year career with MD&HC came to an end. Shortly after this, I was approached by South Tyneside College to join a small group of suitably qualified casual lectures who were selected by the college to provide training to VTS personnel.
It was whilst working as a casual lecturer at South Tyneside College that I met Captain Alan Liversedge and Steve Sanders. Alan and Steve are Assistant Harbour Masters for the Humber, arguably the busiest port in the U.K.
In 2009 the three of us established AFS Consultants, a consultancy business specialising in providing VTS Training at the two accredited training colleges in the U.K., namely South Tyneside College and Fleetwood Nautical Campus. In addition, we also deliver VTS training at the National Maritime College of Ireland, located in Cork.
Since its inception, AFS Consultants Ltd has developed into an internationally recognised training provider delivering training both in the U.K. and overseas in countries such as Brazil, India, Kenya, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
AFS Consultants are a ‘Lloyd’s Register Approved Training Provider’ and we have successfully delivered training overseas in Morocco and India on behalf of the International Maritime Organisation.