UK training and aid ship project seeks funding

Camell Laird-designed disaster relief ship for Britannia Maritime Aid. Credit: Camell Laird/Polaris Media

A new UK-based charity Britannia Maritime Aid (BMA) plans to build and operate a GBP150 million (USD190 million) training and disaster relief ship by 2024. It also plans to charter or buy suitable ships to run operations until its purpose-built ship is ready.  

At the project’s launch during the London International Shipping Week in September, the charity said, “The first-of-its-kind ship will be based in the Caribbean 365 days a year where it will deliver humanitarian aid and provide sea training berths for the next generation of UK and Commonwealth officer cadets, rating apprentices, and trainees in trades associated with aid and reconstruction.”  

Explaining how the project will be funded, BMA chair Captain Kevin Slade said, “BMA has launched a crowdfunding campaign for initial costs needed to finance a detailed business plan required for the next stage – obtaining the necessary funding to progress from concept to reality.”  

On its training role, a BMA statement said that the ship’s regular crew will be supplemented by maritime trainees, cadets, and apprentices who would gain ship handling, navigation, engineering, boat work, and pilotage experience. It will be fitted with full mission bridge and engine simulators.  

The statement added, “BMA’s project will provide much needed sea training berths at a time when the government plans to double the number of merchant navy officer cadets under its SMarT Plus initiative.” 

According to BMA, multiple maritime professionals and training experts have joined forces for the project, with backing from former First Sea Lords, the Lord West of Spithead, and Admiral Sir Nigel Essenhigh. Other supporters include members of the Houses of Lords and Commons, shipbuilder Cammell Laird, ship designers Leadship, unions RMT and Nautilus International, the UK Chamber of Shipping, the Merchant Navy Training Board, the maritime charity London Trinity House, and the government of Barbados.

The UK Chamber of Shipping CEO Bob Sanguinetti said he was confident that the project would attract funding. He added, “This is a worthy cause that enjoys widespread support.”