Thistle Wind Partners gifts maritime training vessel to UHI

Thistle Wind Partners (TWP), which is developing the Ayre Offshore Wind Farm off the coast of Orkney and Caithness, has announced that it is gifting a training vessel to the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI).

see full size image
Left to right: Ian Taylor, Alison Wilson and Mark Shine

The vessel will be housed at UHI Orkney, where it will be used by the Maritime Studies Department (known locally as the ‘Nav School’) to train future mariners and prepare the offshore workforce of the future.

On hearing that the college would need to retire its current vessel, TWP offered to step in and provide funding for a new vessel, a Whaly 500R, which will make its way down from Shetland at the end of the month.

The new training vessel will ensure that the college can continue to train mariners destined for the fishing, renewables and merchant-marine sectors for many years to come.

UHI Orkney continues a legacy of sea-faring excellence in Orkney dating back to neolithic times, while mariners from the Highlands and Islands have been famed for their skill since the 18th and 19th centuries when the region was a foremost recruiting ground for global merchant vessels.

Mark Shiner, Curriculum Leader for Maritime and Engineering at UHI Orkney: “Our maritime school, on its own stone pier in Stromness, has taught young people to handle small boats and cope with weather and tides, for over 50 years. We have a long history of sending students to work throughout the maritime sector. This vessel will deliver skills and ensure safety as we teach real skills at sea. I am so grateful to Thistle Wind Partners for seeing the potential in our young seafarers and supporting them in this tangible way.”

Ian Taylor, Project Director, Thistle Wind Partners (TWP): “It is a great privilege for us to play even a small role in supporting the maritime future in the region. We know that as the presence of offshore wind grows, here and globally, there will be challenges in recruiting people with the right mix of maritime skills.

“It is fantastic to see UHI Orkney leading the way in incorporating offshore wind into its maritime curriculum. If young people can acquire these transferable skills, they will have the flexibility to work across the fishing, transportation and offshore energy sectors.”

Welcoming the donation, Alison Wilson, UHI’s Director of Development and Alumni Engagement, said: “We are delighted that Thistle Wind Partners is supporting our maritime students by providing funding for a new training vessel. As well as providing a valuable educational resource, the donation highlights Thistle Wind Partners’ ongoing commitment to UHI. The organisation is already supporting the work of our science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) outreach team and we are extremely grateful for this additional donation.”