7 months ago

Harry Harris Blog Tidal Tuesday

Harry Harris Blog Tidal

Harry Harris – Merchant Navy It has been ten years since I first embarked on a career at sea. There have been many good times, and equally many sleepless hours at sea, but all in all I have absolutely no regrets about the industry I joined. It is a unique workplace environment and, it certainly alters your perspective on the planet and on humanity. The Merchant Navy, while certainly a tough industry in which to work, offers opportunities that rarely exist in many other careers. I originally started at Warsash and somehow survived there long enough to qualify as a deck officer. I worked for Maersk and BP at sea, eventually getting my Chief Mates qualification in 2015. I specialised in oil cargoes, working mostly on ocean-going tankers. Interestingly, I spent several years on what was one of the last British-flagged and all British crewed commercial deep-sea oil tankers, taking MOD cargoes to bases around the world. While at sea, I was lucky to visit dozens of countries, from the warm shores of the Pacific Ocean to the less than salubrious ports of Libya! The sunrises, sunsets and sheer enjoyment of navigating millions of pounds worth of ship and cargo were some of the highlights of my time at sea. In the summer of 2016, I decided to ‘come ashore’, but still within the maritime industry. I now work for Witherby Publishing Group, the professional maritime publishers. So far it has been a remarkably interesting change and I see it as a continuing, albeit new, chapter in my sea career. While I certainly miss keeping a lookout and seeing the horizon, I am more than ever aware of the enjoyment of being home every night. For myself that was and is always the hardest part of a career at sea; recognising that while at times it’s difficult, emotional and painful to be away, you do learn to enjoy your leave periods and appreciate the little things in life that you might take for granted in a normal career. It certainly makes you value the sheer volume of goods and services that the Merchant Navy supplies to the UK, Europe and the rest of the world the job that keeps us all clothed, warm, fed and ultimately alive! On reflection, one piece of advice that I would give to anyone starting a new career at sea is to prepare yourself mentally that it will be hard being away, often for many months at a time. I genuinely hope that, as time goes on, the industry will do more to reduce the length of seafarers spend on each assignment away from their loved ones. Being away for a month is a lot more manageable than being away from three, sometimes four months! That isn’t to say that it isn’t an improvement from the days of old, but still so much more could be done to improve the life of the average seafarer! While the less than pleasant memories of fatigue, inspections, perhaps more than a few scandalous adventures ashore come to mind, there was importantly over and above that a sense of being challenged, of doing something that few others do and facing more than most in their daily lives. A career at sea teaches you not just about others, but about yourself; what your capabilities are and what your breaking points are. And whether you stay at sea for your working life, or even just a few, I really believe a career as a seafarer is well worth considering. As Christopher Columbus remarked,

STATEMENT OF - Maritime Administration