UK prime minister Boris Johnson met with schoolchildren when he visited the NLV Pharos, a lighthouse tender moored on the River Thames, to mark London International Shipping Week.
Pupils from St Peter’s London Docks primary school in Tower Hamlets joined with George Green school from the Isle of Dogs, school children from Southampton, and pupils of the London Nautical School, to learn about careers in maritime at the Maritime UK Careers Hub onboard the Pharos.
Maritime UK programmes officer Linn Vardheim said the Careers Hub was designed to create awareness and enthusiasm about the maritime industry in the wider community. ‘We want to show that it can be fun and interesting,’ she said.
The children were given a tour of the vessel including its high-tech deck, where they learned how the dynamic positioning system (DPS) keeps it in place during restoration work and saw first-hand how its navigation systems work.
Students were encouraged to interact with the displays including the 1851 Trust’s exhibition. The Trust is the official charity of the British America’s Cup challenger Ineos Team UK, led by Sir Ben Ainslie. Its purpose is to encourage more young women to embark on STEM careers (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) in the maritime industry.
A Lego display of a Maersk Line containership proved popular with the youngsters while teaching them about the importance of container shipping to the UK economy.
The Merchant Navy Training Board (MNTB) used virtual reality headsets to show the schoolchildren what onboard environments such as engine rooms and navigation decks look like, as well as visuals on the size of ships they could work on.
The prime minister took the time to speak with the school children and maritime professionals at the event, including Rachel Gurnett, training and careers manager at the MNTB, who talked to the PM about pathways into the industry for young people.
‘It’s nice to know the maritime industry has the backing of the prime minister, as it’s a great industry to come into,’ Ms Gurnett said. ‘We just hope that it continues to grow and that more and more people in the UK get more involved in maritime careers.’
Maritime minister Nusrat Ghani also attended the Maritime UK Careers Hub with defence minister Ben Wallace during shipping week.
HRH The Princess Royal is patron of the Northern Lighthouse Board, the General Lighthouse Authority for Scotland and the Isle of Man, which operates the Pharos. She has a dedicated apartment onboard the vessel, which she uses to tour the UK’s northern lighthouse assets.