Worldwide there are approximately 3,000 merchant ports and the work of the Harbour Master can vary widely from country to country and from port to port even within the same country.
Deputy Master Captain Ian McNaught describes the impact made by COVID-19 on the safety and charity operations of Trinity House and the work being done to move forward
Working to keep seafarers safe and supported
‘Following the recent revision to the Government’s lockdown restrictions, we at Trinity House are looking closely at how we can manage a safe return to full operational capacity as both a General Lighthouse Authority and a major maritime charity.
‘First and foremost—given that our statutory work as a General Lighthouse Authority and the objectives of the Trinity House Maritime Charity are all being delivered to a high standard—we are confident that we can take the time to get this right and do it properly.
‘Our people’s safety—both at sea and on shore—is our priority; we will continue to focus on delivering our various responsibilities and make our return to offices and depots when it is safe and appropriate, with all safety measures fully in place. As an organisation we have adapted quickly and deftly to remote working, making extensive use of technology to enhance collaboration and communication across shore teams and vessel crews.
‘While their core duties have resumed throughout the lockdown, our vessels and Buoy Yard teams are ready to pick up the backlog of buoy inspections and maintenance and our Field Operations teams will be getting out there to resume technical inspections and painting; we are proud to say that availability of our aids to navigation has been kept to the incredibly high standard demanded of all lighthouse authorities.
‘Likewise, our schedule for inspecting over 11,000 local aids to navigation has been slowed but will now return to its normal pace and we are making tentative arrangements—pending further Government guidance—to carry out our annual inspection committee.
The Maritime Charity
‘The work of the Maritime Charity has been no less busy and meaningful; the team works diligently—and in near-constant collaboration with partner charities—to meet the growing welfare need in the maritime community, to ensure the welfare and safety of mariners and their dependants.
‘Emergency response grants have been given to the Fishermen’s Mission, the Sailors’ Children’s Society and the Mission to Seafarers, among others, and the team has been meeting regularly with other funding partners and frontline charities to stay abreast of the emerging challenges.
‘To reiterate my comments from an earlier statement, I want to thank everyone at Trinity House, and their families too, for adapting so capably and completely to the demands placed upon them by the extraordinary circumstances presented by COVID-19.
‘My gratitude extends to maritime sector workers everywhere, including our colleagues at our sister lighthouse authorities the Northern Lighthouse Board and Irish Lights and our partner maritime charities. They have all demonstrated time and again that they are worthy of the ‘key worker’ plaudits—whether at sea or on shore—and our continuing recognition, applause and support.’
Captain Ian McNaught
Deputy Master, Trinity House.
Illustration: https://www.trinityhouse.co.uk/galleries/lightvessels ©.
In the UK the results of a recent Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT; see: CILT Home (ciltuk.org.uk) ) survey investigating the preparedness of Institute members ahead of the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020, reveals that a clear majority of members are concerned about the UK’s transition period coming to an end.
It is understood that the results show that 82% of CILT members who are involved in the movement of goods in and out of the EU are concerned (44% of them greatly concerned) about the transition period ending at the end of the year.
CILT stated that it is pleased to see 79% of respondents believe their organisation is at least moderately prepared for the end of the transition period. However, alarmingly, 31% of respondents told CILT they had made little or no progress with regards to EU exit preparations since the start of the year, although 77% of those questioned have made or are planning to make changes to their supply chain operations before 31 December.
Many respondents believe their organisation understands the key requirements for what needs to be done as a third-party country exporting or importing with the EU. However, members commented on feeling increasingly concerned over the lack of clarity that remains as the nation approaches the end of the transition period. Respondents also raised concerns about how imports from Northern Ireland will be handled.
As the UK Government launched the Freeports competitive bidding process towards the end of November DP World and Forth Ports advanced their bid for a Thames Freeport with London Gateway, the Port of Tilbury and Ford’s Dagenham engine plant at its heart.
Backed by the City Corporation of London, Essex Chamber of Commerce, London First, the Port of London Authority, the Thames Estuary Growth Board, Thurrock Council and the South East LEP, a Thames Freeport will, it is reported, drive innovation and transformational productivity gains by growing regional clusters in next generation logistics, automation, clean growth and advanced manufacturing. Vivid Economics is providing economic analysis in support of the bid, it is understood.
With a network of global and European shipping connections, excellent road, rail and river distribution networks, in addition to unrivalled first hand expertise in operating freeports, the Thurrock-based combined port and logistics cluster has the scale to grow the associated aerospace, automotive and many complex manufacturing and processing businesses along the Thames. This was the substance of a media release issued by Forth Ports and DP World.
The joint communiqué advised that a freeport will act as a job creation and high-quality development catalyst in an area of severe deprivation and economic need.
Both London Gateway and Tilbury ports have consented development land that is available for expansion now, with the aim to improve the opportunities for skilled jobs, bringing prosperity to the residents of Thurrock and beyond.
In the words of Alan Shaoul, DP World UK’s Chief Financial Officer: ‘Freeports will be an effective way of underpinning Britain’s economy post-Brexit and post-Covid by further enabling trade with the rest of the world and creating zones which will act as catalysts for commerce, creativity and prosperity.’