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Paying more attention to the Thames

Team Leader of Spinnaker's Technical UK Division David Tubb has become increasingly aware of the importance of the River Thames – we hand over this blog to hear what he has to say:

As a recruiter with maritime focus, a geographical remit of the UK and based in an office just 45 minutes outside of London, I should be paying a lot more attention than I do to Old Father Thames. However, I don't think I'm alone.

"The river is a place to work and play, not just to be crossed," said David Phillips, Chief Harbour Master at Port of London Authority during his opening speech at the recent PLA open day.

Pondering on this point, I realised that I attend London fairly regularly for a variety of different events. I've noticed that there's a lot of talk of London as the 'maritime centre of the world', but there's such little mention of the great body of water flowing through the capital. The focus always seems to be what happens in the offices next to it.

Whilst at an NMDG (National Maritime Development Group) meeting in late May, hosted by Livett's Launches on the M.V. Edwardian, I heard the company's Director – and Waterman to the Queen – Chris Livett tell us the history of the river. He talked about how underutilised it is, and described projects that have happened that people don't even know about. For example, how do you think the Olympic rings appeared on Tower Bridge?

There are a number of projects that are utilising the Thames and taking traffic off the roads and out of central London. The extensions to the Northern Line, the rejuvenation of Blackfriars and the planned Thames Tideway Tunnel project, described as a 'renaissance for the river' by Roger Bailey, Head of Asset Delivery. The project will not just clean it up, but increase utilisation for a number of years.

Through speaking with those who operate on the Thames, yet another skills gap in the marine industry has been identified: those with Boat Masters Licenses and a Local Knowledge Endorsement to operate on the Thames.

The River Thames employs 46,000 people contributing approximately £3.7bn to the UK economy. However, discussing my new found passion at a recent Propeller Club lunch, I was astounded to hear the lack of operators based on the Thames that in my mind should be.

Spinnaker has been very active on the Thames over the past few months: we've visited the Woolwich Ferry, NMDG breakfast meeting, on the HQS Wellington with the Apostleship of the Sea and more recently when I announced I was going to "Thames it up" with St Kitts & Nevis International Ship Registry.

We really should pay more attention to the Thames. Rather than looking what's beside it, while crossing over it we really ought to look at what is happening on the river and think about how much more we could use it as a place to "work and play, not just to be crossed."

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