Ships Monthly Magazine


Captain Peter Holt

Captain Peter Holt

To introduce our fantastic P&O Ferries competition, found on page 65, Captain Peter Holt, senior master of the Hull-Rotterdam Europoort multi-purpose ferry Pride of Hull, talked to Nicholas Leach about his career at sea and his ship.


When did you start at sea?
I went to sea aged 16 and did a four-year apprenticeship with Ocean Transport and Trading. The first ship that I served on was the general cargo ship Mano running to West Africa. Starting in 1974, I did my cadetship and gained my second mate’s ticket when I was 20.

What were the first ships you served on?
I served on most of the Ocean Transport ships, spending the most time on Barber Blue Sea ro-ros going around the world. I usually joined the ships in America and then went to the Middle East, to the West Coast of the USA, and then back to the US Eastern Seaboard via the Panama Canal. That round trip took 90 days, and we were carrying containers and ro-ro cargo. The ships had huge ramps and could carry tracked vehicles, diggers and cars, as well as yachts and pretty much everything. They included Barber Priam, Barber Persius and Barber Hector.


Captain Vincent Smit

Captain Vincent Smit

The master of the cruise ship Nieuw Amsterdam, Captain Vincent Smit, talks to Ted Scull during a transatlantic crossing from Fort Lauderdale to Lisbon

Is there a seafaring tradition in your family?
Yes, on my father’s side, there were officers who worked for KNSM, the Royal Netherlands Steamship Company of Amsterdam.

When did you go to sea and why?
At first I wanted to be an airline pilot, but there is a similar relationship between flying a plane and manoeuvring a ship. I used to cycle to the port area to watch the shipping when we moved to Antwerp.

What was your schooling?
I went to nautical college at 16, studied for four years and then got my third mate’s licence. I had two years of sailing time with Chevron on board oil tankers to reach second mate, then moved up to chief officer and went back to school.

Captain Richard Collins

Master of ro-pax ferry Celtic Horizon, which serves on the Rosslare-Cherbourg route between Ireland and France, talks  about his career and work to Jehan Ashmore.

Do you come from a seafaring background?
My father served with Irish Shipping and was Captain with B+I Line, serving on their first fast ferry, the passenger-only jetfoil Cu Na Mara, and from the age of 14 I realised a career at sea was for me.

Where did you study?
I started my cadetship with Scottish Ship Management Hogarth & Lyles Cape and Baron handy-sized bulk carriers and studied at Riversdale Regional College, Liverpool. This was followed by studies for the rest of my certificates at Cork’s Regional Technical College.

Captain Orpheus Kekus

Captain Orpheus Kekus

Captain Orpheus Kekus, master of Anglia Seaways, time chartered by Seatruck from DFDS for the Dublin-Heysham route, talked to Nicholas Leach about his career and his current command.

When did you start your career at sea? 

I graduated from the maritime academy in Gdynia in 1989 with a degree in nautical sciences and went straight to sea. I started with Polish Ocean Lines on the Baltic. In 1992 I started working for Danebrog on the North Sea on board the freight ferry Naesborg operating between Belgium and the Thames.

What did you do next?
After working on Naesborg, I returned to Polish Ocean Lines  to be closer to home, working two weeks on, two weeks off, with the ship operating between Poland and Sweden. From 1995 I went as a junior officer to Eurolink Ferries, whose ships traded between Vlissingen and Sheerness, but the service did not work out. I got promoted to Chief Officer with Eurolink in 1997, and when Eurolink ceased trading I moved to Dartline on ships running from the Thames to Belgium and Holland and was promoted by Dartline to captain.


Lieutenant Arnuad Sibertin-Blanc


The French survey ship FS Borda visited London back in March to attend the Oceanology International Exhibition, and Patrick Boniface went on board and spoke to her young commanding officer, Lieutenant Arnuad Sibertin-Blanc, about his ship and his career in the French Navy.

When did you join the French Navy?

I joined the Navy in 2000. I studied at the French Naval Academy, and after I graduated I embarked on the Landing Platform Dock Siroco for two years as a navigation officer. After that I joined the submarine forces, again as a navigator, and was in charge of underwater warfare, weapons and sonar. I served on the attack submarines FS Emerald and FS Casablanca before transferring to the nuclear ballistic missile submarine FS Vigilant. I took over command of FS Borda in July 2011 as the first command in my career in order to become a commander of a submarine. We need to command a small surface ship before we take command of a submarine. 

What is FS Borda’s current mission?
This ship is conducting a mission for SHOM (Service Hydrographique et Oceanographique de la Marine), which has been an independent hydrographic department since 2007. Before that time it was a Navy department. The missions of SHOM are to improve safety and navigation, and at present we are conducting a hydrographic survey of the Dover Strait to localise sandbanks, which are moving, and we need to localise them every ten years or so.

COMPANY NEWS: ‘Room for improvement’ say P&O

Pride of Burgundy, seen arriving at Calais in autumn gales, operates one of the routes now coming under scrutiny from P&O Ferries.

All aspects of its UK business are under the microscope as P&O Ferries conduct a major review of operations. Chief executive Helen Deeble explained: ‘Trading conditions are extremely tough due to the state of the economy across Europe. There has also been major competitor activity in the Irish Sea which has hit results hard. So, as we start to plan our budgets for 2013, it is clear that we need to reassess our operations. We believe there is significant room for improvement in performance, both on revenue generation and costs.’

The eight-week review began in September, looking particularly at areas including revenue generation and costs, with P&O saying what are described as significant increases in pension contributions to a number of schemes have added to pressure on finances.

P&O’s last major review in 2004 resulted in route closures and the loss of almost 2,000 jobs. It sparked a complete withdrawal from the Western Channel, with routes from Portsmouth to Cherbourg closed at the end of 2004 and Portsmouth-Le Havre in 2005 before Portsmouth-Bilbao halted in 2010. Closures on the Irish Sea were the Dublin-Mostyn and Larne-Troon freight services, while the Fleetwood–Larne freight route was sold to Stena Line.

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