A new £1.2m engineering facility opened at Fleetwood Nautical Campus as part of the Seafarers Awareness Week celebrations.
The Marine Engineering Centre (MEC) was designed in conjunction with industry to provide first-class training in a real-world working environment which mirrors the facilities cadets will experience when working as officers at sea.
The MEC is the latest investment at Blackpool and The Fylde College’s Fleetwood Nautical Campus. The campus already boasts one of the sector’s largest engine room simulator and a state-of-the-art full mission ship bridge simulator, which allows cadets to negotiate some of the most challenging situations they will find at sea.
It was officially opened by Mr Ashok Mahapatra, Director of the Maritime Safety Division of the International Maritime Organisation, in front of key representatives from the shipping industry and invited dignitaries as part of the College’s 125 anniversary celebrations.
Neil Atkinson, Head of Fleetwood Nautical Campus, said:
“The MEC is another sign of the continued investment in maritime training here at Blackpool and The Fylde College, to ensure we are providing exactly what is needed by industry in a constantly-evolving world of new skills and technology.
“The country is crying out for suitability qualified marine engineers and we have worked closely with industry partners to design and build a facility which means we can offer end-to-end training across a range of levels.
“Adding the MEC to the simulators we have at Fleetwood and engineering equipment in the Advanced Technology Centre at our Bispham Campus means we now have the ability to offer the highest level training for our students to prepare them or reaccredit them for a wide range of roles at sea or on land.
“We are delighted to have had such a respected figure as Mr Ashok Mahapatra from the International Maritime Organisation agree to come and open the new facility for us.”
The MEC includes a variety of equipment typically found within the engine room onboard merchant vessels, sourced from ships including tankers, bulk carriers and supply vessels.
The marine propulsion plant comprises of a medium speed marine diesel engine with reduction gearbox and propeller shaft, while auxiliary systems include diesel generators, auxiliary boiler, pumps, purifiers, air compressors, heat exchangers and refrigeration training rigs.
The MEC workshop facilities include equipment for machining, hand fitting, pipe forming and a whole host of supporting resources to aid the development of skills required by Engineering Officers within the Merchant Navy.
The Centre was designed and built in collaboration with shipping industry partners to ensure the facility mirrored the type of workshops students are likely to find on-board a ship at sea.
Designers were allowed access to one ship while it was in dry dock to ensure they were providing a real-world experience for students. Other industry partners donated and loaned high-value equipment for cadets to work on.
Brady Hogg, Curriculum Manager for Marine Engineering at B&FC, added:
“It is vital for industry that our students leave us with the skills required to handle all of the many challenges they may come across when they are at sea.
“The centre will play an integral part in the wider College continuing to provide the highest-quality technical and professional education, where the quality of teaching and learning has recently received the highest possible “gold” rating for higher education in the government’s new Teaching Excellence Framework.”
The Marine Engineering Centre was part-funded by a Growth Deal grant through the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership. Pinington Construction took six months to build the facility, with the keys handed over at the end of 2016.
Following the launch, this year’s graduation ceremony at Fleetwood Marine Hall saw almost 100 students receive certificates for completing programmes in Nautical Science and Marine Engineering.